* 7 minute read *
One of the things that I struggle to relate to when I read certain blogs or books on personal growth is how seemingly “perfect” some author’s lives seem. Sometimes it feels to me that any of the struggles or dark periods that the authors write about exist in their distant past and not in their everyday life.
I’ll be honest with you, my life is not perfect and I’m not always riding the crest of the wave or (be)ing awesome. Be(ing) awesome is something that I’m constantly getting better at! Over this past week I’ve had a pretty tough time and I’ve had to confront a few of my personal demons.
However, this week I want to explain why I think not being awesome is a very important part of becoming more awesome and why it is completely natural and in fact essential to experience the low points of life.
Today, where I live in Brisbane, Australia, it is the first day of Spring. I love Spring! It’s my favourite season, because I feel a new lease of life every year as I experience nature revitalising itself around me. While I was contemplating the cycles of the seasons this week, I stumbled across this video by a guy called Elliot Thulse (via Reddit) about overcoming a lack of motivation.
Elliot’s a personal trainer (pretty funny guy too!) and his advice for people suffering from a lack of motivation is to embrace it.
He uses a metaphor of catabolic / anabolic states and summer / winter seasons to explain how our motivation works in cycles. “Summer”, or the catabolic state when exercising, is when we are at our peak. We are excited, active, vibrant, full of vital energy and just generally out there kicking ass and enjoying life. However in the catabolic state, as we exert energy we are also gradually breaking ourselves down.
This process of breaking down is really important because it stimulates the other end of the spectrum; the anabolic state. We obviously can’t have summer all year round and likewise we can’t be in a catabolic state all of the time. There are always going to be times when we need to rest, digest, chill out, absorb and restore so that we can recapture the nourishing energy to stimulate our shift toward spring and into summer; back into a catabolic state.
As Elliot explains, motivation comes in cycles and seasons, just like the annual seasons and we need to adapt accordingly.
While I was struggling at one point this week I decided to duck out on my lunch break to just sit by the river and clear my mind. I noticed that the river was at low tide and this got my thinking about all of the other areas of nature and life where things fluctuate in waves or tides.
The ocean and the river are never the same, they have their moments of highs and lows.
Music and sound travel to our ears via wavelengths that rise and fall. We appreciate the subtleties of music because of their highs and lows, crescendos and de-crescendos.
Our heart operates in peaks and troughs. If it doesn’t, it’s flat-lining and we are not alive.
We all know people who seem to have a “steady” life. They may be stuck in a comfortable job, not taking any risks or embracing change, and although they don’t seem to be particularly unhappy they’re definitely not happy or at their full potential. They’re flat-lining.
This might work for some people, however I made a conscious decision about three years ago to never ever go through life feeling numb. I choose to experience the full spectrum of human emotion and life experience in favour of a sanitised or numb life.
We all make mistakes, we all feel down, we all experience emotions that we can’t make sense of immediately and we all behave in ways that we later regret.
There is a concept called grace that is often used in religious contexts, but you don’t need to be religious to necessarily understand the message of grace.
As Maston Kipp explained this week a simple way of understanding the concept of grace is thinking of it as a universal reprieve.
Grace means that if we slip, fall, fail, distort or disown our behaviour we don’t have to remain in suffering or self-punishment.
Real Education describes this kind of behaviour as “shadow behaviour”. It sounds negative but it is actually a very important part of a process that helps us learn and grow.
Grace means that as long as we take ownership for our actions and take the necessary steps to clean up and rectify the effects of our actions, we can move forward, with a valuable lesson that allows us to grow.
I don’t believe that we are mystically punished for our actions in this world. I don’t believe that this kind of attitude (that we deserve bad luck or punishment) is helpful in any way to our day to day life.
We all experience moments of low motivation, of dark emotion, of shadow behaviour. We are all beautifully imperfect. While it is important to take ownership for any of our negative behaviour its also important to move on and let go. Winter doesn’t have to last all year long. Spring time is here! It’s time to shine!
Til next week Be Awesome!
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