Nearly four years ago today my life began to spiral out of control. I was caught totally off guard and quickly hit rock bottom. For as long as I can remember I've been a worrier (some things more than others) but nevertheless I worried incessantly about everything. With that said I was happy most of the time, my self esteem was generally high, I was confident in my abilities, and extremely competitive.
I grew up involved in all sorts of athletics and was in better than average physical shape as I exercised numerous times each week. I was sort of late in the maturity process, so it took me longer than I anticipated, but I competed my bachelors degree in 1998. Went to work full time and completed an MBA at the same time. I am extremely proud of this accomplishment because of the sacrifices I made and the focus I maintained. I completed the MBA program in 2003.
Not long after I married Heather, we dated for nearly six years and don't know why she stuck with me but can't express how lucky I am to have her. We married in May of 2004. Soon after we found out she was pregnant. In a very short amount of time my life was really transformed. Definitely for the better.. (What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.)
So as I said, I've always been a worrier, in addition I was a very negative thinker and extremely pessimistic (note: I didn't realize any of this at the time.) Many of you may know where I'm coming from. Do you obsess about things to the point that you can't sleep? Does your mind take your thoughts, turn them into worse case scenarios, then play them over and over again in your head? Do you worry to the point that you make yourself sick?
I did and statistics show I'm certainly not alone. The reason I'm sharing this is that I had these symptoms, these problems that I endured for over 25 years before I was able to overcome these anxious, negative, worrisome, unproductive thoughts.
My little girl Brianna was born April 14th, 2005, less than a month prior I accepted a new job and left the one I'd worked at for nearly eight years. Three life changing events (marriage, child born, career change) in a very short time, coupled with my thought process...need I say more. About a month after Bri was born I sunk into a severe depression. I couldn't sleep, couldn't eat, i was performing poorly at the new job, and wasn't even coming close to fulfilling my role as father and husband. The corrupted thoughts playing in my head seemed to be never ending and they were all over the place.
"Your going to lose your job. You won't be able to pay your bills. Your car and house will be repossessed. Your wife is going to leave you. You don't even know how to change a diaper. Your losing weight. Your sick. You can't support your family. Your worthless! etc..." This was what I was allowing to go on in my head on a daily basis. Throw in the three life changing events and the stress associated I completely lost it.
I had lost my faith, lost my self esteem, my confidence. To save my job I went out on the Family Medical Leave Act, but knowing I would have to go back and face my co-workers was just horrifying because of my thought process. Somewhere in the midst of all of this craziness I remember sitting on the side of the bathtub, letting the water shower me while I prayed for a very long time.
That day I promised myself that I would not allow myself to feel this way again. I also decided that I could beat this! Don't get me wrong it didn't happen overnight, but the key was within myself. God helps those who help themselves! I started seeing some doctors at the same time I started exercising again and researching depression, anxiety, obsessiveness, etc. I spent time reflecting on the things that were really important to me. I started to change my thought process, began to set goals and expectations for myself.
I began reading some self help books, some inspirational and religious books as well. All the while I regaining my mental, physical and spiritual strength. Everytime a negitive thought would come into my head I would write it down then replace it with a positive thought. At first, it felt fake and I was skeptical of what I was learning. The reason, I stuck with it was I knew I wasn't going back to that "black hole again". After being out of work over a month I got up enough courage to go back. That was a tough morning, but at the end of the day I felt good.
I started a personal journal or diary (still tracking my negative thoughts and replacing them with positive, productive thoughts) and each day I would spend time writing in my journal. I would right about the day, what happened, how I felt. If something that day bothered me, caused me anxiety or worry I would try to pick that thought apart to determine the root. For example, I had a severe fear of public speaking and in the new job that was part of the it. Not so much standing up and presenting, just communicating in meetings, round tables, or one on one.
So guess what wrote about it, how it made me feel and decided that I needed to take action. My thought process was changing, in the past I would have worried all week about the meeting scheduled for Friday. Now I was thinking what was it that made me so anxious and how to I change it. In this case and many others preparation was the key. I began practicing speaking in front of mirrors, talking in the shower. All the time I was building up my physical and spiritual strength. I would and still do tell myself something like, "I am strong, confident and in control. I control my thoughts and feelings. I choose happiness. I am successful. I am learning new things each day...etc"
In one of those meetings I was charged with heading up a project. Later I would come back and present to the group about how we completed the project. All the time I am training my mind to think in a different way. Doing numerous exercises each day to help reinforce my training. I was putting myself first and treating myself with respect. Lifting myself up instead of beating myself up. The mind is such a powerful mystery, but I can tell you that you are what you think.
We completed the project and I gave an excellent presentation. I could see that many of my peers were impressed. It really made me feel good and was the real beginning of my mental comeback. Remember you are what you think. You and only you have the power to influence your thoughts. You can choose to be happy. You can choose to be positive. You can choose to be a leader. You can choose to be the best person you can be each day. You can choose to make a difference in the lives of others. You can choose to give back.
Today, nearly four years after falling into that "black hole" I am so grateful and thankful for the position I'm in. First, my faith is stronger than ever, not a convenient faith, but I have truly turned my life over to God. Second, my thoughts are positive. Anytime a negative thought slips in or I'm having a bad day I have trained myself to recognize and to consciously intercept those positive thoughts. Third, I give thanks. Gratitude is so important. You need to genuinely feel good about yourself (love yourself) be proud of your accomplishments or the things your are working toward. If you don't have any goals or expectations you need to start there and start small. One of the best ways to do that is to help others. Give back, donate your time, resources, clothes or money to help those less fortunate than you. Don't lose sight of the truly important things in your life. Don't take things in life for granted. When you wake up tomorrow morning, be thankful that you have another day to be your best. Try to help someone and make someone laugh.
Today I own a successful self defense product business! We ship things like pepper spray every day to every state in the US! We are growing daily and the sky is the limit! I have my beautiful wife Heather, Brianna will be 4 in April and guess what...we have a little boy due May 16th! My family and friends are tremendous. I am surrounded by good, quality people that help to challenge and inspire me. I am grateful for these blessings and we give back to some amazing charities.
Remember, you are what you think. So start thinking that way. Positive thoughts, produce positive feelings. You control your thoughts and your feelings. Choose happiness, choose God, be grateful and thankful, give back to help others.