Battling Mindset Fatigue

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For the last three months, I’ve battled. Battled the blues, and a generally meh attitude that makes me just not myself at all. Battle the treadmill. Another 4 miles? What tha…! Battle the drudgery of recovery. Yes, thank you, I hear you telling me I’m doing great, but I don’t feel so hot today. Battle energy sapping prescription drugs where my options are literally to skip the meds and more than double the chance of another heart attack or take them and feel less like me. There simply is no good solution at this time, sir. Battle the fear of failure (and other stupid lies), wondering if the new normal involves a lower level of production than that to which I’ve become accustomed. Wondering as well if publishing a Sad Sack post like this one is going to lower my clients’ willingness to remain clients. Then wondering if I even care. All that sh*t. I’d tell you I won the battle, but I don’t know yet—I’m still battling.

If you’re wondering what the hell kind of weird ass, depressing blog site you’ve wandered onto, I’ll catch you up in three sentences. Three months ago, I had a widowmaker heart attack, died on the table (really), and didn’t stay dead (obviously). While most people stay in the hospital 10-14 days after such an event, I was out in two. I attribute this to God’s grace and my mindset which I’ve cultivated to go from misery to joy pretty dang fast. Okay, five sentences: My positive motivation self laughs: “LET’S CELEBRATE Y’ALL!” My tired reality wants a nap.

This post explains all that.

The externals of a setback are numbing aren’t they? Clients who were lost a job talk about how painful it is every few days to see yet another rejection notice. Clients who lost a relationship tell of dividing up their remaining friends every few days. Clients who no longer feel close to God tell about how they get soft spiritual reminders of their not so spiritual lives. Every few days, I get another email reminding me in very specific dollar amounts just how good are my medical team—$166,000 for two days, and we ain’t done spending that money. Wow. I don’t know about your insurance plan, but, well, maybe you have an idea why I was feeling in a little in the battle lately. My share of that fat bill dented in my net worth, but honestly, I am so grateful to have the cash to pay it!

The simple truth is that for the last quarter, all my goals were shot to hell. That wears on a goal-oriented guy, you know? And the more I tried to get something done, the more obvious it was how little control I owned. Ugh.

I could not do almost any of the things I wanted to do. I missed my nephew’s wedding and cancel a few speaking engagements because I could not fly. I could not get out of a record-setting Texas heat wave because I couldn’t handle the altitude at our place in Colorado (poor me, I know). My sleep patterns changed and I learned to live on less than five hours per night. (They’ve since returned to normal, thank God because I am a sh*t show on 5-hours/night.) For two months, 4pm felt like 11pm, and even now 6pm feels like “I’m toast”. Most annoying is that no matter what I say, people assume one foot’s in the grave, which makes me angry.

The miserable state has become far more difficult to cast aside. And yet, this too is just brain training.

Things gradually leveled off, my energy had returned for the most part, and while I’ve lost a few good clients, I’ve gained a couple new ones. None of that was within my control either.

I have held serve over the amount of time I put into my cardio-rehabilitation program. Today, I’ve regained about 90% of the physical strength I had before the heart attack. Another month or so and I’ll regain all the muscle mass I lost. That’s pretty good. Even better, I do about 250% more cardio than I before. That’s not a typo. I’m catching up in the gym, and I’ve improved on the track.

How is that possible?

All I can say is that I’ve used the process I tell you to use. I notice misery. I examine what emotions am I feeling and what am I believing that’s causing that misery? Usually, it’s sadness or anger over unattained goals. The lie is I’m not far enough along, or the old goblin, I’m not good enough. Then I get into fear and the lie: Crap! The rest of my life is going to suck.

I counter that, reminding myself: This is a process. Hearts simply do not become efficient any faster than mine is. I am healthy. I do the things healthy people do. That’ gets me into the workout and eating right (two things I control). It also causes me to remember that no one really cares about my whining, so I might as well stop doing it. Instead, I’ll write something, read something, call someone, and make damn sure I deliver value to my clients.

It takes more than physical exertion to defeat bad health. You’ve heard or read about my research that shows 83% of success is the psychology of the thing (7% is strategy and tactics, and about 10% is beyond our control).

The mental part really is the bigger battle. Many days I did not want to workout—I wanted to sit on the couch. Some days, I sat on the couch. I hate to admit it, but I just did not have the energy to move. Twice—this is still funny to me—I forced myself to go to the gym where I sat on their couch, then went home. But four other times I made it to the gym, sat on the couch and did not go home. Being there was enough to get me to move those damn treadmill, elliptical, and weight machines.

My doctors tell me that around 2/3 of the people who experience a serious health setback like mine get clinically depressed. I wrote the book on avoiding depression, but the creeping inner critic still got me down. As I am writing this, it’s 3pm, I have not been to the gym, and the inner critic is winning. My son is in town and we have a family dinner tonight—I’m cooking and…nope, not gonna get to the gym today.

This is a rest day. So?

They tell me some of this funk is the medicine I have to take. It makes it easier for the heart to heal. It also drains energy, and if you’ve read my book, you know that the brain is like a battery. It only has so much energy. If you expend energy on something other than doing what you want to do, it’s like draining the battery on your phone with piggish apps—the energy isn’t there when you need it. The drugs drain energy and even though it’s for a good cause, it puts me into funky town in a bad way. I am seriously cussing in my head right now.

What to do? What to do?

First, what not to do. If you’re in a spot like I’m in right this minute: do not ruminate on the negative. I have not a clue what the future holds. So anything that sounds like: Woe is me. I’ll never…I’ll always…I can’t… is not true.

Instead, I focus on the truth (the truth shall set you free!), which is: I am getting better. Any thought that contradicts the evidence (I am getting better) is a lie.

Then, I do some stuff that matters most, first. I set realistic expectations. For instance: write half a blog post (I started this one yesterday). I quit when I’m done and not when I should be done (I try real hard not to should on myself).

I think about what I can do, and not about what I cannot do. As a result, despite the negative tones which invade my space, I’m very satisfied with my progress and happy with life. I move from misery to joy quickly. I’m surprisingly at peace. How much would most of us give for peace?

Ultimately, I am getting everything done that really needs to get done. It may not be the script I’d like to read right now, but so what? It’s still a dang good story.

If you’re dealing with something that’s kicking your butt, at least download and read the freebie. If you’re still stuck, send me a note (jack@jackallenphd.com). We’ll see if I can help.