The One Thing That Helped Keep My Sanity

and also changed everything else.

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I grew up like many kids looking at life thinking everything is perfect and had no real perception of what ‘life’ was about and nor should I really, I was just a kid. But it wasn’t perfect, it was just normal. 

I just wanted to go out and play sports all day or play with other kids in the streets or local park. That was perfect to me.

The reality of growing up is altogether different than we imagined as kids and our little world of perfection soon gets completely distorted when life’s events and challenges comes knocking.

My normality I later realised was anything but normal. I grew up with a mother who spent most of my childhood in mental asylums and my dad worked all the hours he could to provide for us.

It was only years later I realised just how far from normal my childhood was and when facing certain challenges started to question my own sanity and something telling me I’d be going the same route as my mother.

I remember in my twenties being in a very stressful position in the corporate world and working crazy hours, travelling and trying my best to provide for my family and be a dad. Now that was the real challenge thinking back, as no one had actually taught us how to do that. 

The second most important job in the world and we aren’t taught how to do it, instead we’re just expected to learn along the way. Talk about putting even more pressure on young and already stressed shoulders.

That’s when the challenge first reared its head and heard myself questioning  whether I would end up suffering the safe fate as my mother. It may sound egotistical, but I was fairly brash in my twenties and I recall saying to myself “There’s no (bleeping) way that is going to happen”.

I somehow managed block out ever contemplating such an event.

Roll forward twenty years and when things should have gone smoothly in my perfectly thought out world I had planned from childhood; the house, great job, wonderful family and all the trapping that go with a successful career, things suddenly went very sour and before I really understood what was happening I lost my job, career and everything that went along with it.

Shocked was an understatement. It was traumatic. I tried to brush it off as I had with everything else and just gotten through things as I had always done before, without always knowing how. Sheer belligerence most likely.

This was different. I wasn’t in control and was powerless it seemed to improve the situation and that’s when the biggest challenge to my sanity came. The doubt, the fear and the thoughts ending up locked away like my mother tested me to almost breaking point.

It seemed like the whole world was conspiring against me and I was being taught a lesson, made an example of. Or a myriad of other ‘things’ I tried to justify why.

It all became a blur and I searched, watched, read and listened to anything that I could to help move me forward. Movement couldn’t come fast enough, and it was whilst playing golf one day that I realised it was the only place I could find any real solace. 

Being outside in the fresh air, surrounded by nature being challenged by the game and competing was a release. While the majority of people find the game one of, if not the most mentally frustrating and challenging games there is, to me it was a source of peace, serenity and much needed calm in a very stormy time.

Looking back, what I discovered was, that when playing the game, I became so focused on what I was doing that everything else just became irrelevant.

When playing each shot controlling my breathing was key to bringing calm and control to everything. It was relaxing, peaceful at the same time challenging but in a different way. It helped me to actually thrive because I was away from all the crap that was literally killing me.

It was also healthy, walking 4-5 miles taking time to recharge often exhausted internal batteries.

Whilst many struggle with the game, I would encourage you take a different view and embrace the beautiful game in a different way and see if it can help you thrive.  As Wayne Dyer once said “When you change the way you look at something, the thing you look at changes”.

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