My alarm would go off.
And before I even had time to hit the snooze button, that suffocating feeling had already wrapped itself around my chest and stomach so tightly that the thought of getting out of bed totally crushed my soul.
I couldn’t verbalize exactly what the feeling was, but it was painful.
And it was dark.
And it stripped me of all of the amazing things I knew I was.
It left me feeling like an empty vessel. Like I was simply a body who was assigned the impossible burden of carrying on a life that wasn’t meant for me.
The simplest of tasks required all of my intent. I had to summon every ounce of gumption just to do the routine things that the former me would breeze through on a daily basis.
I felt guilty for not being able to enjoy the world around me.
I felt hopeless because I knew I wanted a different life, but I had no idea where to start in building it.
I felt anxious because I was uncertain about the future and whether I had the power to change it.
And I felt victimized by everything that happened to me.
DEPRESSION (INSERT SAD-FACE EMOJI)
If you hadn’t guessed it yet by my sexy depiction of my life during this time, I was depressed.
My life was dictated by the brutal combination of longing for a better life and the constant fear that I was not good enough to create it.
I was merely existing each day, surviving through work and my commute til I could get home and numb my brain with the comforting distractions of tv. Then i’d fall asleep, wake up, and trudge through it all over again.
I wanted to find out what was wrong with me, so I did what anyone would do and went to the doctor. They diagnosed me with depression, gave me some pills, and told me everything would be alright.
Except it wasn’t.
Although the pain subsided a bit from pills, I still could feel that underlying sensation that something was off. I knew deep down that there was more action for me to take in order to feel like my true self again.
I knew I had to do something, but here’s the problem….I didn’t know what that something was.
I had no damn clue what to do….until I did it.
And as crazy as that above remark sounds, in it lies the key to overcoming the feelings of depression that were deeply affecting my life.
*Please note I am going to share with you how I personally overcame/still deal with my depression and moved my life forward. I am in no way saying that if you are currently battling depression that what I am going to share is the perfect route for you to take. I am simply sharing my insights in hopes of encouraging you to view whatever negative emotions you are dealing with in a new, empowering light.
YOU ARE NOT A DISEASE
Unlike Kevin McCallister from Home Alone, you are not a disease.
But we all want certainty. We all want to be able to make sense of the world within us and around us.
So yeah, it makes sense that when dealing with this terrible feeling that we can’t understand or make go away, it’s convenient to label it as a sickness (depression) and medicate it (anti-depressants).
But what if you could understand it?
What if instead of viewing your depression as a sickness, or a weak attribute of your character that you were born with, what if you could change the lens through which you look at your depression, and actually extract value from it that moves your life forward?
I know this may sound crazy and I’m just some A-hole typing stuff on the internet, but follow me for a second.
Could it be possible that instead of trying to punish us for no reason, our bodies are actually creating the sensation of depression to let us know that part of our life is out of whack?
Is it possible that deep, deep down in our heart and our soul, our true-self knows that there are pieces of our lives that we are fundamentally unhappy with, but we are refusing to deal with?
I am not saying I am right or wrong, but I am saying that once I personally made this shift on how I viewed my depression, every single aspect of my life changed.
When I shifted my mindset and started to approach my depression as a valuable signal that my soul was desperately trying to send me, as opposed to some disease I was supposed to tolerate forever, the right doors started opening that moved my life forward.
When I consciously made the choice to be aware of how I was feeling, instead of becoming and embodying that feeling, I felt the biggest weight ever lifted off of me, and I was never the same again.
So how does feeling depressed guide you in the right direction? That’s a great question, you good-looking SOB!
Whether you can admit it or not, your inner-self/gut/intuition knows exactly what you want in life.
It knows the amazing life that you deserve to live, and along your journey, your soul will try to nudge you in the right direction so you can put the pieces in place to experience that life.
If you completely disregard your inner-self’s helpful guidance, your body will politely try to let you know you are veering off course.
It will give you an idea or a flash of brilliance to try to get your ass moving. You’ll start to picture the life you truly want and the goals you’d like to accomplish, and visualizing it seems incredible.
But you don’t act on it.
Following through on new ideas and taking risks is scary, uncertain and probably requires hard work.
Gross! Who wants that, right?
So we ignore the initial signals and keep on living our normal life, doing what is safe, predictable and comfortable.
Over time, our gut and intuition will continue to try to nudge us back in the right direction.
And if we keep ignoring it over and over, and keep traveling further and further down the path of comfort and safety, we get further and further away from the true brilliance we were meant to embrace. As we get further and further away from the life our true-self wants, we get more signals from our true-self that we are off course.
And we begin to feel ‘off’.
We get a bit anxious, a bit sad, a bit moody.
No big deal, we can easily drown those feelings out with distractions.
Scrolling thru instagram, binging Netflix, poorly managing a Fantasy Football team (why do all my QB’s keep getting concussions?), going to happy hour, shopping, hitting the town, cray brunches with your bff, planning vacations to look forward to so we can escape work…..there is literally an endless supply of stimulus we can use to keep ourselves from ever having to be alone with our true-self.
But sooner or later, your true-self will stop all the polite nudges and suggestions.
Being subtle clearly isn’t moving you to action, so what does your body and soul do?
Like Miss New York from Flavor of Love, it marches right up to you, pulls your hair, spits on your face, and calls you out for being a broke-ass hoe (hence the headline of this section).
And what I mean by that is, your body will send you an undeniable signal that you have gotten so far away from the true amazingness you were born to pursue, and you need to change directions ASAP.
Your true-self will send you a sign that you simply cannot overlook or ignore any longer. And this is what you experience as depression.
It’s an intentionally painful sensation because your heart and soul NEED you to take notice that you are settling into a life that is pulling you further and further from the true greatness you were destined to create.
Once I decided to view my depression in this way, everything changed.
Instead of putting my hopes in distractions and medications, I decided to finally listen to the fact that my soul was screaming out to me.
I finally paid attention to the fact that my feelings of depression were not a permanent piece of my personality, but were in fact messages trying to nudge me to take action.
So yeah, it’s kind of a dick-move that your heart and soul would create such a painful emotion for you to experience, but deep down, your true-self is just looking out for you and trying to help you move forward in creating the badass destiny you were put on earth to experience.
Okay, so if you’re following along, you know that I’m a regular person, just like you, who was experiencing mental distress and negative emotions. I was diagnosed with depression, and for a little while, I accepted my diagnosis and began to walk, talk, think and act all things depressed.
Once I consciously decided to shift how I viewed my depression, however, everything changed.
I no longer wore depression like a bulky, heavy jacket that I could never take off.
Instead, I stepped back and observed it.
I saw it as a message my soul was trying to send me, to urge me to take action and pursue the life I truly knew I wanted all along.
And now that I knew my temporary feelings of depression were a message from my true-self trying to get me on track to building an amazing life, my next task was finding out exactly what the message was that my true-self was trying to send me.
So I looked at a part of my life I was fundamentally unhappy with; my job.
My job was sucking my soul, and it was time that I addressed this area of life.
And to start the process of moving forward, I literally played a game of truth AND dare with myself.
It went a little something like this:
TRUTH: What is something creative that makes me fulfilled, that while i’m doing it, I lose track of time and joyfully get lost in it?
DARE: Do one thing that will allow the creative activity to play a larger role in my life
Obviously this is different for everyone. Everyone has their own unique gifts, passions, experiences and expertise. So your journey may look nothing like mine.
But for me, I realized that fitness was that creative activity I loved to get lost in.
And one way to allow fitness to play a larger role in in my life was to get a personal training certification so that I could more effectively share my passion with other people.
So I listened to my intuition, signed up for a personal training certification program, and every night when I got home from my sales job that I didn’t like, I studied for an hour. I did this every week for 20 weeks.
And I shit you not, by just knowing I was taking steps in the direction that my true-self was guiding me toward, a large majority of the depressing feelings I used to experience had subsided.
I’m not saying I instantly went from sad and hopeless to joyous and self-assured, but I felt significantly better physically and emotionally by simply taking action and moving forward little by little.
Playing this game of truth and dare with myself gave me the clarity I needed to re-connect with my true-self again. It was the catalyst that allowed me to begin translating the message my depression was trying to communicate to me so that I could step in the right direction.
I will be honest with you. I did not have some grand master plan when I decided to begin studying for that personal trainer exam. I just knew it felt right and made me feel fulfilled, so I took the first step.
But here’s the thing.
If I HAD tried to plot out the entire journey, I would have failed. I would have overanalyzed things to the point where I would have been too afraid or intimidated to take action.
So I just moved forward one step at a time. And let my intuition be the guide.
And things have unfolded in an amazing way.
I studied for the certification exam and passed.
I started working as a personal trainer.
Then I earned the role director of fitness for one of the most elite training facilities in the Mid-Atlantic.
Then I started a fitness blog.
And then I became an entrepreneur when I created and ran my online fitness coaching business.
And now I am a transformational breakthrough coach who uses the badass combination of fitness and mindset development to help others become fearless action takers so that they can build the body and life of their dreams.
There is no way I could possibly have planned out every step of this journey back when I decided to start studying for that exam.
And I am glad I didn’t, because I would never have possibly known how high I can possibly reach.
As I grow, so does my potential. So trying to plan every little detail would limit myself.
The most important thing I did was just start and listen to my intuition along the way.
The path won’t look entirely clear, and that’s okay. Embrace that, and make your first move!
So once I deciphered the message that my depression was trying to relay to me, I took action and got the ball rolling.
And it felt incredible.
And in order to truly build the life you want and accomplish the amazing things you know you deserve, you need to keep the ball rolling forward so you can create badass momentum.
And the way I keep my momentum going forward is by stepping into fear. By continually taking action even when my brain tries to talk me out of it.
Because whether you know it or not, our brains are literally wired to keep us safe, fat and comfortable. They are wired to help us merely survive. So naturally we will feel reluctant to try things that are unfamiliar and new. Things that are challenging and scary. Things outside our comfort zone.
But you were put on this earth to thrive, not just scrape by.
So just know you are going to feel fear along the way with your journey. You are going to feel doubt. You are going to feel judgement. You are going to feel discomfort.
But don’t let it dictate who you are and how you respond. Just know it’s your overly cautious brain suggesting that you settle for safe, comfortable and mediocre.
Say ‘hell no’ to that suggestion and take action anyway.
The more you can do this, the stronger your action-taking muscle gets. And the stronger this muscle gets, the weaker the fear gets.
And when you can adopt this type of mindset, when you can feel fear, acknowledge it as a temporary suggestion to settle and play it safe, and then decide to take action that moves your body and life forward, then you become unstoppable.
You remove the limits on your life, and you can accomplish any damn thing you want.
So if you were to sum up the steps I took to overcome my depression, it would go a little something like this:
– Acknowledging if you feel ‘off’. This feeling sucks, and you know you deserve to be filled with fulfillment and joy, not sadness.
– Shifting the lens with which you analyze these sad feelings. Know you are not broken, damaged or doomed. You may be experiencing sensations of depression, but know this is not your identity. You are just receiving a message.
– Decipher the message. These feelings are a sign that something in your life is out of whack, and you have not addressed it.
What could that be? You can either use the Truth And Dare exercise I did, or you can simply sit alone with yourself, and write down the ONE big thing you’ve wanted to change for a long time but you’ve been too afraid to tackle. Hint- if there is any area of your life that you feel you are settling or selling yourself short, start there.
– Take action on the change you want to make. Start moving forward, letting your gut and intuition be the guide. Remember, you don’t have to have the journey mapped out perfectly. You just need that first step.
– ALWAYS REMEMBER: Fear is just a suggestion to settle for safe and comfortable. You will experience it a bunch throughout this journey, and that’s totally cool. To be fearless doesn’t mean you are immune to fear or don’t feel it. Being fearless means you can acknowledge fear, decline its invitation to give up, and still maintain your ability to CHOOSE to take action that keeps moving you toward your goals.
Whether it’s depression, anxiety, fear of failure, fear or judgment, self-doubt or any other negative emotion holding you back from building the amazing life and body that you deserve, please know that these feelings are temporary suggestions.
They are not permanent. They are not your personality. They are not you.
The more you can begin to acknowledge these feelings without getting completely lost within them, the more you can move your life forward.
The more you can feel fear, doubt, judgment and discomfort and still CHOOSE to act in a way that gets you closer to your goals, that’s when you become fulfilled and unstoppable.
That’s when you become fearless.