Taking Responsibility to Take Back Control
“I understand there’s a guy inside me who wants to lay in bed, smoke weed all day, and watch cartoons and old movies. My whole life is a series of stratagems to avoid, and outwit, that guy” –Anthony Bourdain
The other day, one of my very close friends asked me the question “When did you beat your depression?”
She, like way too many others, and myself have been on a long journey of seeking mental wellness and the ever-present desire to be “happy” and to not be “depressed.”
I thought to myself, “I never beat the depression that I feel. I still struggle with it everyday. But she sees me as ‘cured’. So what is it that I have done in the past months that has created this noticeable change?”
“I haven’t beaten anything yet” I responded, “But everything changed when I made the decision to take responsibility for my own well-being. I realized I was unwilling to continue to live the life I was living. I was unwilling to go one more day feeling like shit. And I knew I had to do whatever it takes to ‘get there.’”
That decision changed my entire perspective on my life. And, as I’m currently learning, that is a decision I have to make every day that I wake up.
Some days it’s easy to make that decision. You wake up motivated to “be your best self” and take the steps you need to do to get your mind and your body feeling good.
But, if you are like me, most days making that decision is extremely difficult, and some days its feels downright impossible. So, what if I did everything in my power to make it as easy as possible for myself to choose happiness and health every single day?
So I went about experimenting and developing a system that could create an environment that made saying “yes” as easy as possible. And I went about the work of making that system into a habit.
So what exactly have I been doing? I’ve established a morning routine, and I’ve been forcing myself to follow it closely every day.
First, I wake up and I move my body. I have a list of four body weight exercises from Dr. Joseph Mercola that are centered on releasing Nitric Oxide in the body. You can check out the quick workout here. I do this to get my blood flowing and wake up my brain and my body. It’s super quick and easy and I know I can do it from anywhere.
Then I sit down and do a series of intense breathing exercises followed by a guided meditation. My favorite are from Dr. Joe Dispenza from his book Becoming Supernatural, but I encourage you to find one that resonates with you, and really commit to it each time you sit down to meditate.
Once I’m finished, I’m now ready to start my day. I know from experience and repeated practice how I am going to feel once I’ve completed my morning routine, and 100% of the time it is better than I felt when I first woke up. And from that mental headspace it’s going to be much, much easier to say “yes” to happiness and health.
What if I did this every morning for 21 days? How would I feel if I made the effort to work that mental muscle and “get there” on my own, without the help of external chemicals and substances? By repeating this process every day, I’m strengthening those pathways and building the chemical memory in my body of what Joy, Acceptance, and Gratitude FEELS like. And eventually, if I keep practicing this everyday, those emotions will become embedded into my unconscious mind, and my body will turn that new pathway into a habit.
I developed my morning routine by testing out what worked for me. Through experimenting with different programs and protocols, and asking myself at every step “How do I feel after I do this? Is it better than I felt before?” I encourage you to experiment and find what works for you. If you are always doing the same things, odds are you are going to continue having the same experiences and continue feeling the same emotions. But if your will to experience something new and better in your life is stronger than your addiction to those old emotions and habits, the floodgates of possibility are going to burst open in your mind, and your body will have no choice but to respond.
The most important things I have found that help me to “Get There” each morning are:
1. Movement and Exercise (get the blood flowing, break up old pathways)
2. Breath work (quieting the body and getting very still in the mind)
3. Meditation (Focusing clearly on my intention and desired emotion, and really allowing myself to feel those emotions in my body)
Find what works for you. And love yourself enough to do it every day, for at least 21 days, and I promise the changes in your mind and in your body will be glaringly apparent, not only to you, but to everyone around you.
I have been in an ongoing struggle with my mental wellness since I was a teenager. I’ve seen countless of my peers wrestle with the same internal feelings of inadequacy, fear, and hopelessness. I have fought with myself for the past seven years trying to get to “happiness”, and have experienced tremendous anger and resentment at myself for not being where I want to be, while still actively making decisions and repeating habits that are keeping me from the ever-distant success I can see in my mind.
I am currently at a place in my mental health journey that I am extremely proud of. These are the steps I am taking that have made my current state possible. And I hope that by sharing my journey and my own struggles that it can help others who might find themselves feeling the way I have for some many years, by revealing that we all have the power to take control of our bodies, our mind, and our futures.