What if we go through life, wholeheartedly believing in one Truth, only to discover that there’s a way of being that we never knew existed?
I grew up in the stereotypical New Jersey suburb. I was fortunate to have a supportive family, went on to become a serious competitive dancer, and considered myself a high-achiever in all academics. I wore the words “ambitious” and “overachiever” like a badge of honor, priding myself on always giving 110% to everything I did.
The way I showed up during my adolescent and young adult years represented the fraction of myself that was validated by society, by my environment, by my peers, and by the ones I love. I fit perfectly into what was expected of me, which led me to feel secure and safe in being that version of myself. I didn’t know any differently or have a reason to believe there was any other way to be. This was my reality.
“You don’t know what you don’t know.”
As Steve Jobs once said, “You can only connect the dots backwards.” Only in hindsight did I realize that those qualities I wore with pride were the very things that lead me to my “Phoenix Moment.” The moment where I deteriorated to ashes, but ultimately to emerge as the most whole, renewed, revived version of my authentic self.
Junior year of my collegiate career, I tore my labrum in my right hip. As a dance major and a dance team member, consumed by fear of who I’d be without the very thing that defined me, I chose to push through the pain for the next two full years of my college dance career. And so began my disintegration to ash.
My physical pain soon became the axis around which my entire life revolved. While my body broke down, my mind gripped onto any ounce of control it could. And my health, self-worth, and relationships all began to deteriorate along with my body.
When I graduated and my injury was properly diagnosed, I opted for surgery thinking that it would “fix” everything so I could go back to living my reality. But no less than 6 years later, I still battled with debilitating chronic pain and I had no idea what to do.
When my pain didn’t resolve after surgery, I looked outside myself for any and all solutions. I tried everything I knew of to heal myself: acupuncture, acupressure, chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy, massage therapy, pain management doctors, trigger point therapy, multiple cortisone injections, marcaine injections, cupping, dry needling, nerve blocks, resting, progressive strengthening…
…and nothing made a long-term difference. I couldn’t understand how I was in my early 20s, young and healthy, and yet my physical pain somehow wouldn’t heal in the hands of the medical system we learn to trust wholeheartedly.
Hitting rock bottom seems to be full of only suffering, but what if it’s divinely orchestrated to disrupt the pattern we’re living in and redirect our path to reconnect with the core of who we are?
Six years later, I decided I could no longer live with my life on pause. This time, I sought out the only option I hadn’t considered yet: talk therapy.
Therapy was the only option I tried on my path to healing that redirected my efforts from seeking solutions outside of myself to looking inward. And to my surprise, talking to a psychologist was the catalyst that sparked everything in my life to change.
This was the first step in my inner journey of transformation that lead me to become 100% pain free within just one year.
Life-Changing (literally) Takeaways
TRANSFORMATION STARTS WITH KNOWING WHO YOU (REALLY) ARE
There are two causes of transformation:
- Insight gained over time
Pain — both physical or emotional — can be sudden and disruptive. It challenges us to look inward and find a deeper understanding of our reality. Hitting rock bottom seems to be full of only suffering, but what if it’s divinely orchestrated to disrupt the pattern we’re living in and redirect our path to reconnect with the core of who we are? Most “awakenings” that lead to reconnection with one’s purpose come after a disorienting dilemma that sets a person on the path to becoming a more resilient, embodied version of their authentic self.
YOUR MIND IS MANIFESTING YOUR CURRENT REALITY
Like Arianna Huffington came to realize when her health and well-being caved in, our mental and physical wellness is inextricably connected. Our subconscious mind holds our unique, internal structure of beliefs about who we are, what our life should look like, and what is possible for us.
The subconscious mind runs on autopilot, so we’re projecting from mostly unconscious beliefs that control our thoughts, emotions, behaviors, actions, and results. Reprogramming our subconscious mind not only gets to the root of what’s reinforcing our unsustainable behaviors, but also recodes our physiology. We have the power to become our own self-healers.
YOUR LIFESTYLE IS THE KEY TO SUSTAINABLE WELLNESS
In looking back on my experience of pushing my body past its limits, I found that I had been slowly chipping away at my health and self-care over time in exchange for hustle and burnout.
Wellness is the integration of heightened self-awareness and shifted beliefs into consistent, daily action so we can unshackle ourselves and be free to live the life we deserve through sustainable lifestyle change.
One lesson I learned from Vishen Lakhiani, founder of Mindvalley, is the importance of turning our suffering into a superpower. My rock bottom taught me not to aim for perfectionism and higher standards to feel worthy, but rather break out of the mold of societal expectations to embrace true health and wellness through owning who I am and what I feel called to do. From what I can tell, it doesn’t get any closer to freedom than that.