I never thought I would overcome such traumatizing events in my life. I consider myself “wise beyond my years” due to vast life experiences thus far.
Since age 6, type 1 Diabetes has been a constant struggle. Every day is continuous upkeep on my carbohydrate intake, mental and physical well being. Now fast forward 12 years, my brother passes away from an accidental heroin overdose. I had just started my first semester at college, and my demeanor shattered.
Think the troubles would stop there? Come 2014, and I almost died in a devasting car accident resulting in 9 pins and a plate in my hip. Another four years go by, and I admit myself to a drug rehabilitation program.
I have certainly beaten the odds. I overcame these struggles while completing a bachelor’s degree, working full time, and completing my master’s degree.
You might ask, “how do you keep such an optimistic outlook? What type of attitude or mindset did you develop to keep your head above water?” That, my friend, I will discuss in this article. The type of mindset and attitude you develop through trying times is crucial to your success.
“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. It may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” – Maya Angelou
Clueless in my early twenties, I had no idea how to shift my attitude. Terrible low self-esteem, beating myself into oblivion for every little mistake, and self-isolating myself is the only way to describe my character back then.
I always blamed my genes for my faults and felt guilty that I could not save my brother’s life from the depths of addiction. As you can tell, I had a low self-image of myself; a self-defeating attitude.
It wasn’t until my addiction took hold and destroyed my inner self. Like someone screaming through a megaphone, my subconscious repeated daily, “Wake the fuck up, Austin; this is not who you are as an individual.” The attitude I kept carrying around was pessimistic.
From rehab to developing relationships with various people, I was able to form an attitude that would carry me to success. An attitude shift was vital for my well-being.
Action Step: Take inventory of your attitude on a daily or hourly basis. Create an hourly attitude check-in asking yourself, “What is causing me to be negative?” “Do I have a supportive group of people who will cheer me on through success and struggles?” “How can a 180-degree shift in my attitude affect my life going forward?”
I was pushing a 100-ton rock every day. This amount of weight put a severe toll on my motivation. Lying, betraying my loved ones, making mistakes in graduate school, relapsing, and almost getting fired at my job, made me want to give up my dreams of pushing that rock to the finish line.
How did I keep going? Most people would have given up at the first few signs of failure. How did all of those failures and mistakes lead me in a self-fulfilling direction? One word: perseverance.
It might sound like common sense that perseverance is the way to success. However, life forces thrown from a million directions were depleting my energy. In my mind’s eye, despite many setbacks, I saw attainable success within reach.
Even a few hundred times of falling made me a more resilient individual. Can the setbacks continue? Absolutely. I usually tell myself: “I am not a byproduct of my past; I am a different version of myself every day. Who I was in the past does not define my future self.”
Action Step: Look back in your life and list all the times you failed multiple times. On one side, have a list of your fall downs, then, on the other hand, list how you overcame those obstacles. What was the outcome? How did perseverance play a role in your come back? Say to yourself, ” The person I was in the past does not shape who I am today.”
One minute I am on overdrive worrying about the future. The next minute I am stuck on replay in the past. “Will I be happy and successful in the future?” “But wait, how can I be successful in the future if I fucked up so often in the past?”
The mind on overdrive jumping back from past to future and future to history is an energy drainer. Mind jumping will put you into a deep hole eventually. What is the key to stabilizing your mind? Self-awareness.
Completely unaware of my so-called “mind travel” put me in constant stress and negativity. My girlfriend broke up with me? Constant worrying and overanalyzing of my mistakes. Have you screwed up an assignment at work? Immediately I would feel like a failure and be ignorant of my mental chatter.
Being self-aware of your thoughts and developing a strategy to ease the negativity will bring you immense joy. Practicing a form of mindful breathing helped me climb out of my mind’s shit.
Action Step: How much worrying and anxiety bring you into a state of fear or paralyzation? Write down your thoughts in vivid detail. On a piece of paper in one column, write the future, and in another column, write the past. Write out what scares you about the future and what holds you back from your past. Then each day, try to implement a breathing exercise where you mindfully feel your breath. A consistent breathing practice will ground you and keep you in the present moment.
Going to hell and back was an exciting and eye-opening experience. I have accepted the fact that I am not who I was in the past. I can admit that I am a better version of myself daily.
Attitude change comes with developing an inventory to notice negativity. Falling hundreds of times and getting back up only shows how resilient you are as an individual. Most people will give up at the first sign of a setback. Giving up is not you! Self-awareness develops through grounding yourself in the present. Rather than being stuck in the past or projecting yourself into the future, stay mindful at that very moment.
One last thing, success does not come to those who worry and sob in their failures. Success comes to those who develop deep inner work amid setbacks and defeats.”