Facing your demons and conquering your fears
Do you fear risk, failure, judgment, discomfort or obstacles? If so, much of that may be related to childhood trauma, such as feelings of abandonment, insecurity, irrelevance or unworthiness that continues to haunt you today. These are shadow issues – our demons and fears – and we must work to conquer them. They differ from person to person, but we all have them. I get up every morning and prepare to chat and wrestle with my demons and conquer my fears. And yes, I still have plenty of them at 74. Sometimes I win; sometimes I lose; and sometimes we draw. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will set you free. It won’t be easy because humans are hardwired to avoid and escape pain and discomfort. It’s going to take hard work, and you’ll need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable – like David Groggins has done.
One of my role models and heroes is David Groggins, often called the “toughest man alive.” He has completed over 60 ultramarathons, triathlons and ultra-triathlons. An ultra-triathlon generally refers to all triathlon events with a distance that is a double, triple, quadruple, quintuple or deca-triathon of the Ironman triathlon, which consists of 2.4 miles (3.86 km) of swimming, 112 miles (180.25 km) of cycling and a full marathon (26.2 mi or 42.2 km) of running. And let’s not forget that he once held the Guinness World Record for pull-ups completing 4,030 in 17 hours! Holy shit! Take a deep breath, throw your old map and compass away and get started. But wait, there’s more!
One of a kind
Groggins is a retired Navy SEAL and the only person to complete two “hell weeks” in two months (the toughest training in the US military), the only person to complete SEAL training, US Army Ranger School and Air Force tactical air controller training (US Airforce special forces). It’s safe to say he knows how to face demons, conquer fears and become mentally tough. Goggins says, “Everybody is looking for mental toughness, every athlete, everybody in the world is looking for mental toughness. The only way you gain mental toughness is to do things you’re not happy doing. Or as William Faulkner put it, “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”
Be brutally honest
“If you continue doing things that you’re satisfied with, and that makes you happy, you’re not getting stronger. Either you’re getting better or worse, you’re not staying the same,” Groggins says. Be brutally honest with yourself and confront your fears head on. Use that to fuel your growth and development in life. David Groggins: “Once you come face to face with who you are, you have a starting point,” he said, when talking with London Real. Forget everything you know about motivation “Motivation comes and goes. When you’re driven, whatever is in front of you will get destroyed.,” Groggins says in his autobiography, Can’t Hurt Me.
You need to make a decision to move forward. When you think you’re about to hit the wall, find the door in the wall and push through it. Developing this attitude and mindset doesn’t happen naturally. It requires time and discipline to change the way your mind thinks. At BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training), future SEALs learn the 40% percent rule. The 40% rule is simple: When your mind is telling you that you’re done, that you’re exhausted, that you cannot possibly go any further, you’re only actually 40% done. It makes people ignore their brain’s first reactions to quit, stop pushing and complaining and find the 60% you need to continue. Goggins uses the “Cookie Jar” concept to help remind himself of what he’s been through, how it made him stronger and every accomplishment he’s achieved. You can use a real cookie jar or a mental cookie jar – whatever works best for you. When you’re feeling negative and the shitty voices are screaming nasty things in your head, reach in and grab a cookie or two.
If you don’t want to do something but can still do it, you’re mentally tough and on the path to greatness, according to Groggins. He also practices the “Accountability Mirror” of placing post-it notes on your bathroom mirror with your goals, whether they’re career goals, lifestyle goals, etc. so you see them every morning. This way, you hold yourself accountable for achieving the goals you set. Do things that make you uncomfortable. Break your big goal into smaller, more attainable goals. Visualize yourself achieving each goal. When you look in the mirror every day, you must be honest with yourself and check in with your progress toward your goals. The following are my current post-it notes. What am I doing to keep the “old man” away when he comes knocking at my door every morning? What am I doing to be more persistent? And what am I doing to find new challenges? “When you look yourself in the mirror, that’s the one person you can’t lie to,” David Groggins reminds us. What would you post on your bathroom mirror?