THE DEVIL ON MY SHOULDER
I put a lot of posts up showing how into my life, my biz, my fitness and my chosen location-free lifestyle I am. Despite the fact that most of what I ‘do’ is work with entrepreneurs what I show goes far far beyond just what I do to make money. I LIKE showing what I’m doing to have my version of it all, and create the extreme business, extreme fitness, extreme life that I’ve always dreamed of and now get to LIVE.
But what I don’t talk about so much is the inevitable ‘downs’ that come with the ups …
Take this picture for instance. I was happy to walk into the gym and see that nobody was there and I could have my own private sweat session, so I took a selfie and planned to put it up with words to that effect. What it didn’t occur to me to share though, was that a big part of the reason I was happy to see the gym empty was that I really just wanted to scream and shout and cry.
I already DID my “workout” for today this morning 10 hours ago. Smashed out a killer weights circuit and felt great for it! But this, this was not really about training. This session was SELF-PROTECTIVE.
It’s one way I’ve learned to deal with the devil that is always, near to daily if NOT daily, on my shoulder.
Telling me I’m not good enough –
I haven’t done enough –
I’ll never BE done –
And that it’s all.too.much.
It’s the same devil that tempted me with bulimia on and off for 10 years (and mostly won) … until eventually I learned to understand this disease of self-control, and how to move past it.
Never over it, you understand, but past it; yes, I suppose so if only in a practical sense.
It’s the same devil that tormented me through several years of absolute hell-born insomnia when my first marriage ended at 26. I was lucky to get an hour of sleep a night; sometimes not that. For 3 years. I honestly do marvel at how I stayed alive, but then again the devil was there to help me escape at night with a lot of wine, and a lot of binge eating, and during the days I kept very, very, very, busy.
Escaping from who I didn’t want to be and running towards I didn’t know what.
And now, well now the devil on my shoulder plays with me in the same old way, with the same old taunts, and the same old anxiety rises up.
I struggle with anxiety.
I don’t talk about it because hey! Successful people have all their shit together, right? Well, no …
And the truth is I DO share pretty transparently about my shit; maybe too much so! But this, to be honest, I’ve not wanted to acknowledge as something real and maybe I still don’t, because seriously Kat! Get over it. It’s just a bit of crazy-adrenalin-go-go-go driven stress and you just need to chill!
Well, actually that’s true.
I DO go like a bat out of hell all day and most of the night as well! I LOVE it; I could never live any other way. I read a quote today that cracked me up, in a novel, said by the mafia boss character:
“Hobby? I don’t have hobbies. If I do something I do it for REAL.”
So yes, it is a REAL thing that I need to ‘chill’ and it’s not something that comes naturally, largely because for years – 10-15 of them, the WAY that I chilled was:
I binge ate, then purged.
Or I drank.
Or I just.worked.more.
And then I didn’t sleep.
And then I repeated.
So now, to this day, when it’s finally ‘my time’ and I sit down with a book or just to relax, the devil on my shoulder is there telling me –
“The EASIEST and most EFFECTIVE thing would be to eat, you know …
And more –
Ice-cream. Chocolate. Cake. Whatever. Eat it all then let it out and get that SWEET release. Escape. Hide. DISAPPEAR to a place where nobody and nothing can touch you.”
Of course the devil doesn’t tell you about the shame and loathing that always follows. It does a damn fine job of convincing you it will be fine, just this one more time!
But now I say no.
Again. Because that, that’s behind me now and GOD knows it was the toughest fucking thing in my life to break the hold of. And sometimes I automatically say no, I don’t have to think about it, but other times I really DO want to give in.
Release the build-up, and find calm; even for a moment.
The thing is, saying no to the sabotages of my past is also saying no to the instant release. If you’ve an addictive personality and you’ve ever abused that, you’ll know what I mean.
Mindless trash entertainment in excess.
Whatever it is.
It’s a QUICK release.
Saying no to that stuff, the sabotag-y version of it, is admirable. The only problem is it leaves the devil still there, politely waiting, refusing to leave, and infuriatingly REMINDING you that until you do something about it?
It and its bag of anxiety-ridden fears ain’t going anywhere.
There is another way though.
What I’ve learned, is that you can live with the anxiety and oft-on-the-brink-of-meltdown lifestyle of the driven entrepreneur who just wants more.
Firstly, know that you are not alone. And it’s not your fault.
It is VERY fucking common to struggle with anxiety as an entrepreneur, as a creator, as a leader.
It needs to be talked about more.
The ANSWER is not that you should fucking DO less. People who don’t get it, don’t get you, will assume that.
“You need to slow down!”, they’ll tell you.
“You’re too hard on yourself … you take on too much … be realistic!”
I’d sooner just quit the whole fucking thing now than not be who I am and who I AM is this.
So, know that who you are is OKAY and everybody has their areas of struggle.
Next, accept that your shitty thing is real. Don’t ignore it. Don’t fucking binge or otherwise run and hide your way through an entire decade and possibly a lifetime, because it WILL MAKE IT WORSE, and you KNOW that, and also it’s a ridiculous waste of time 🙂
So, what can you do?
Stare the beast in the eye.
For me, when the anxiety comes to taunt me, and the devil is riding firm on my shoulder, I can’t breathe.
I feel scared. Angry. As though I’m trapped in a bag; I have a desire to flail my limbs around to get out.
I want to RUN.
I used to run with food.
Or more, more, more work, to the point where I would work 16-hour days with maybe one 15-minute break, back when I ran my own personal training business.
Now, I still run.
By which I mean I actually fucking RUN.
I don’t go to the gym twice a day because I’m obsessed with my body (although I am!), I go because it grounds me. Because if I try and lay still and ‘breathe deep’, I can’t, and I get more panicked. But if I go and SWEAT then it causes me to need to breathe.
Sometimes, like today, I cry when I’m sprinting.
It’s okay to cry you know.
It’s okay to need a release.
It’s okay to be human.
You don’t HAVE to have all your shit together, all the time.
My goal is not to be anxiety-free, although that would be nice. But my goal, my focus, is simply to keep my eye on the prize of the life I desire that I’ve chosen, and to SUPPORT myself through that.
Exercise is one way.
Fun and adventure and cool social stuff another.
Having a massage or some other form of self-care can help.
Going on a long walk in nature, and just working the mental AUGH out is great.
Eating more good fats, as well as foods high in magnesium and tryptophan also helps, from a nutritional and hormonal standpoint.
Writing is another.
And sometimes, quite honestly, nothing really helps, and I just ride it out.
Which is all that any of us can ever do, really!
It doesn’t make you a bad person to struggle.
And just as we each need to own our AWESOME we each need to own the areas of who we are that are not so fun, and find a way to dance with them.
I hope my post today helps you a little, to dance with whichever devil sits on your shoulder.
Life is Now. Press Play.
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