“People only change for two reasons. If their backs are against the wall and they have no choice but to change or if they are really hungry for it”
You would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t been inspired by Tony Robbins. The man is a living legend. The icon of peak performance psychology and motivation.
Out of all the things I have learned from watching his videos and lectures, I believe that this theory of his is one of the most profound. And I’ve watched a lot of Tony Robbins. So much so that I had a roommate complain to administration about me because I watched his videos too loud in the common area at late hours of the night. It happened once.. ok maybe more than once.
The purpose of this post is to show that people need to be pushed sometimes. To their edge. Until they decide that it is time to take action. That they alone are responsible for how their lives turn out. I propose that maybe those whom we believe are suffering the greatest, that seem to have the worst luck, that have their backs against the wall are actually the closest to being freed from all their problems. They are the closest to feeling fed up with the nonsense and ready to take action. The closest to being happy.
“Those who suffer from the terrors of a nightmare are more likely to wake up than those who go through the regular ups and downs of a dream”
A little earlier than this time last year, one of my greatest fears was realized. It seems so childish now that THIS was my greatest fear. There is a lot of horrendous things that can happen in life, like being an accounting major. And THIS was what I was worried about?
To put it simply, I was cheated on. It was something I saw coming for a while but I decided to ignore the signs. To save the relationship. I knew this girl was trouble but I wanted to help her. I’ll admit I had a bit of a savior complex but I was also addicted to the relationship. Addicted to the highs and lows.
The night I found out what happened was one of the most brutally cold and lonesome nights of my life. To make matters more complicated, it involved other people I had trusted. I felt alone like I never had felt before.
How can I describe the feeling? It is a mix of loathsome hatred for the person who is causing you to feel like nothing you know is real and that you don’t really matter. It is a desire to make them hurt and cry in front of you while they beg your forgiveness. But it is also the inner child crying out for help in all of this. All I wanted was to be told that it was all a crude joke. That none of it really happened. I wished I was Jim Carrey in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and could erase specific moments from my memory. ZAPPPP. Never happened.
But fortunately, it did happen. No, I didn’t misspell anything.
I was pushed to the edge. The ensuing weeks (or months) were spent hating myself and everyone around me. It would take a while before I could go hours without tormenting myself with thoughts of that night. Images of what happened behind my back haunted me. I couldn’t stop asking myself if there were other nights. How long was I being lied to? Our relationship was short but the attachment we developed was seriously strong. Did she mean any of what she said?
I felt like everyone who I spoke to could see through the happy facade that I put up when I stepped out from the darkness of my lonely room to face the world. I felt like everyone could read my mind. I felt pity emanating from them and it bothered me.
Friends who knew the situation and knew both parties involved were direct targets of my angst. I did not show any particular ill will towards them but I could not hold a conversation without perceiving any look, any sigh or gesture as a feeling of pity. ‘I don’t want your fucking pity. Keep it for yourself‘, I would yell at them quietly in my head.
To top it all off, an entrepreneurial venture my friends and I started had failed not long before this. If one were to be poetic, one would have described it as the shit covered cherry on top of the ass flavored sundae that was my life at the time. It’s hard to describe the feeling of worthlessness but it’s easy for me to say that that was what I was experiencing.
But there was something that I knew for sure. I had hope and I wasn’t going to let the silly thoughtless act of a young girl affect the the way I live the rest of my life. I had heard too many stories of people with ‘baggage’ ruining future relationships to allow myself to become one of those people.
What the hell was I going to do? Ignoring it would plant seeds of self destructive behavior for my future. That was out of the question. So I decided to face it head on.
My dad ever so patiently explained to me again and again that young people do this all the time. ‘It’s not such a big deal‘ he said in his calm, reassuring voice. As you can imagine, that wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I wanted him to tell me that I was better than her. I wanted him to tell me that one solution could be to set her on fire or maybe something ‘outside the box’. You know.. something sensible!
His nonchalant attitude and my interpretation that he was trivializing the trauma I had just experienced made me blow up a couple of times over the phone. But his message started to seep in and I started to relax.
Maybe he was right..
So I set to work to forgive her. And the guy. I knew any resentment I held towards them would only keep my mental peace hostage. So everyday I forgave them. Everyday I wished them well.
I slipped a little at times as hate can be an uncontrollable beast and maybe I wanted to play with it a little. Hate can be quite powerful and pleasurable. It takes away your responsibility and makes you feel free for an instant because it’s not your fault. Only for an instant however. I changed my attitude once I saw through this illusion. And on and on, everyday I wished them well.
I could have blamed the girl for doing what she did and ‘ruining’ me the rest of my life (For a while, I really wanted to be on the other end of a dishonest relationship just so I could feel what it’s like. Maybe release my frustration out on some other poor girl). Or maybe it was me?? Maybe I didn’t pay her enough attention. Maybe I wasn’t as good as I should’ve been. Was it the sex? Oh god, no….
I decided to cut through all that bull shit. Shut my mouth and my thoughts and learn what life had to teach me.
I used to believe that humans needed to just be loved and accepted for who they are in order for their best traits to come out. If we just accepted people for who they are then they will be given room to create something really magical, to be their best selves. I am starting to change my mind.
At times, we all need people to test us, break us down, hold us accountable. Push just enough to wake up and take action. That’s what this girl and life did to me.
By being pushed, I took responsibility. For myself and my happiness. My worst fear had come true and I was still standing. Still alive and well. I was a better man for it. What else can my fear teach me?
A lot of the posts that I have written about took place after this experience. I don’t know if I would have even started writing had it not happened. If all that came out of that experience was a blog that allowed me to express myself and start challenging myself, then I would let cards fall in the same places given the opportunity to go back.
I won’t go into details about how my life changed since. It would require a lot of explanation that I am sure none of you would care to read. I still have my problems and I am still working on them but it’s different now. I feel more awake. More connected.
So maybe I owe this all to that young girl. She was my catalyst for change. If you’re reading this, thank you.
Thus, this post is a call to action. Tony Robbins explains that you change and take action when you’re ‘hungry’ or your back’s against the wall so let’s stop protecting people so much and let’s let them fall. Hold them accountable. Push them a little bit. Let them scrape their knees. Let’s start being honest and open with people. Not to satisfy our egos or whatever else it may be for. But to make them hungry. Make them stand up for themselves.
And let’s start challenging ourselves while we’re at it.
It takes a lot of darkness before one starts to seek the light. It is for this reason that I don’t get upset when things go wrong as much. It is for this reason that either I take care of my problems or don’t complain. Problems and things we perceive as ‘evil’ are really opportunities for us to be pushed against the wall. They shake us awake. Sometimes violently. But they test us.
Recently, the founder of the religious group which preaches that God’s love extends to everyone (well, except for ‘fags’, Jews, non-believers, soldiers and pretty much everyone but themselves) died. That group is the Westboro Baptist Church and the man was Fred Phelps. There is no debating that this is most definitely a hate group and this man was the main perpetrator.
But I saw so many people posting on Facebook and other social media that we should all ‘picket his funeral’ and ‘rejoice’ because he is dead. Let me get this straight. You want to picket and boycott a group of people who have beliefs that are different from yours and are outspoken about them? That sounds like you’d fit right in at Westboro Baptist Church. We would be practicing exactly what we condemned them for, would we not?
Why not instead look at people like the Westboro Baptist Church as a challenge to become better humans? More compassionate and loving beings. Not to feel better about ourselves because we are more ‘accepting’ than they are but because there is enough hate in the world and we don’t need to contribute anymore.
Are you up to it?