When I hear stories like this guy’s, I realized what a sheltered and blessed life I have lived. David Goggins is a bad man, in the best way possible.
I encourage you to read his book Can’t Hurt Me, it is a fascinating look into the mind of a man who has been through Hell a bunch of times, starting in his childhood. Quick bullet points or a recap wouldn’t do his story justice, so I am not going to bother. At one point he weighed almost 300 pounds and was working as an exterminator at night in order to get by. Within three months he had lost 100 pounds as was taking his second shot at completing military training to join the Armed Forces. He is the only person to graduate Navy SEAL training, Army Ranger Training, and Air Force Tactical Air Controller Training. HOW he survived these trainings, the injuries he overcame and he mental toughness it took to do so, is beyond inspirational.
I read his book as part of my book club, and it was interesting to hear each of the guys talk about their own takeaways from the stories. We were all blown away by the mental feats this guy accomplished, like getting through a couple of weeks of SEAL training with a broken knee cap and bad stress fractures in his shins. The idea of duct taping my shins before a walk around the block sounds terrible, let alone what he did. Incredible what the mind can do, if you can get to that place in your head to do so.
One of the things he said that really struck me was talking about facing your past, realizing why you are who you are, and coming to terms with that. I heard another quote not too long ago that went something like this:
“If you don’t deal with your demons, they move into
your basement and start working out”
There you have it; the core problem that so many people struggle with. Far too many of us self medicate, are passive aggressive towards others, develop compensation strategies, or just flat out suffer the consequences of having wounds that never actually heal and scar over. Look, you can’t change your past, what happened to you is always going to be there. But what you can, and should, do is to face those issues, figure things out, and let it empower you. I’m not talking about jumping out of an airplane to get over a fear of heights, I am talking about dealing with the crap from your childhood (we all have it) that affects how you see yourself and your place in the world. Goggins did it, many others have too. I’m in the process….
I don’t know where it comes from, yet anyway, but I have a deep seeded need to be loved. I was the first child, not the second. I have zero recollection of any time where I didn’t feel loved and valued as a child. I can’t pinpoint the origin of this, but I can tell you what it has done to my view of the world as an adult. Achievement meant love- the more I accomplished, the more value I must have. When I fell short, it wasn’t just a loss, it is a soul-crushing experience that rattled me to my core. Little league games and later on racquetball matches were played as if life and death, the life or death of my self worth. Later, it moved to sexual conquest. What better way to gain the love of another then by having sex with them? Getting someone to share something so personal with me and no one else (sort of) certainly seemed like an expression of love that my ego and self worth so desperately needed.
It took a lot of soul searching, a lot of long road trips and hours on end spent fly fishing, my mind free to roam, until I started to piece these things together. I started to clean out the basement, slowly but surely, over time. I didn’t get to that frame of mind in short order, and I wasn’t going to fix it in a hurry either. But I knew I had to start, otherwise the patterns I have lived would be the sentence of my life. I wanted more. Those around me deserved more.
Luckily for me I was a couple of years into this process when I met my wife. I apologize to all of the others that came before her; as I did not fully understand myself at that time, therefore could not have been as open and honest with you as I should have been. I wasn’t even looking into the basement at that time, let alone starting to clean house. Now, as I close in on 50, happily married in an amazing relationship, I can really start to work.
I still have days where I see an old thought process emerge. I get feelings of inadequacy or feel the need for an ego hit in one form or another. But now I see it, I short circuit it, and I move on. I know better; I’ve learned that my past does not dictate my future. This applies to the good stuff and the bad stuff. So, I continue my quest, fighting the dragons of the past, forging my way through new territory, accepting new challenges. I am a warrior on an unending quest, doing the best I can every day. I will suffer wounds, I will explore, become lost, and find my way once again. But in the end, I will look back and know that I have seen and experienced things others only dream of.
Start cleaning out your basement. Once you do, you too will be free to roam and explore all that life has to hold for you. You will see it in a better light, and you will be a better person for having done it.