This is post is a reflective one as I look back at my 30th year on this planet. This year has been one of huge change, growth, reflection and success.
Ending relationships that were holding me back and bringing me down. Two Buddhist retreats. Two MMA fights. A trip to Thailand. Losing my best buddy Simba. One Pandemic. One Ultra Marathon (55km). Two Marathons in one weekend. I launched my blog and I am about to launch my Podcast.
It’s safe to say it’s been busy, emotional and a huge catalyst for change.
As with all challenges in life there have been some new important lessons that have been learnt and old ones reinforced as the universe knew I hadn’t fully learnt them!
I want to share them with you, so you may also benefit.
Don’t let anyone prevent you from growing
This year saw the ending of my a relationship, a few friendships and I had to severely limit my contact with a very close family member. Why?
In life people have choices. We can either choose to take responsibility, reflect on ourselves and take steps to learn and grow. This can often be a painful and turbulent process however it is one well worth doing.
Alternatively, we take the easy route and we hide from our issues and these inevitably impact our lives and seep into our view of the world and often become highlighted in our judgment and criticism of others.
The nature of choosing the path of confronting your own issues often highlights in others, areas they are not willing to address. This often results in criticism, negativity and sometimes insults. Don’t worry about it, that’s just their issues being projected on to you. However, you do not need to keep exposing yourself to people who want to hold you back.
This can happen in all areas of life. Whether it’s people encouraging you to drink alcohol or eat junk food when you’ve chosen to abstain and become healthier. Or it could be unnecessary negativity and unwarranted criticism when you want to start a new side hustle or hobby.
Largely people are completely unaware of their insecurities, flaws and underlying biases so understanding that can help us manage its negative effects on us. We must understand that everybody is on their own journey and it is not up to us to force others to learn and grow.
I believe we must help others where we can however sometimes it gets to a point if someone refuses to grow, to learn and to accept you on your journey then it’s best to call it a day on that particular relationship.
It’s hard but exposing yourself to toxicity for a prolonged period of time will damage your Mental Health and if you let it, hold you back on your journey. This is especially important when you are dealing with people in your “inner circle”.
It’s so easy to receive criticism, negativity and hate these days. The prolific use of social media and the lack of blowback on what people write means that you get a lot of cowards and keyboard warriors happy to dish out insults and abuse because let’s face it….they don’t have the risk of getting punched in the face.
For this reason, in order to be able to cope with any potential negativity from fake “friends” and strangers, we need to bulletproof our inner circle. For me, that means my inner circle needs to be behind me 100%. They need to understand and respect my values and boundaries.
They do not have to agree with me, in fact, I welcome discussion to make sure I have thought about all the options. However, once I decide something they must get on board and have faith in me. Get on board or ship out!
Life is far too short to have toxicity in your inner circle. You can’t go to war with people who wish you harm in your team. I can’t step in the cage to fight if my corner team want me to lose and you can’t excel at life with snakes in the grass wishing you ill and waiting for you to fall.
Set boundaries. Have the hard conversations. If needs be, be courageous and have a clear out!
Never quit, there is always another way out
My toughest fight last year was against a big tough hard-hitting polish guy. I got battered. He hit harder than anybody has hit me before, I was rattled. I got cut 3 times in the first round. There was blood, swelling and it was all very dramatic. I quit. I gave up on myself and wanted the ref to stop it. I’m glad he didn’t, that would have been a mistake.
I made it to the second round. With a pep talk from my cornerman, I came out fighting. My opponent tired from punching my face (LOL) tried to take me down. That was a mistake. I got in one of my favourite positions for a submission, rolled him over and squeezed until the ref pulled me off of him.
That was the best feeling ever. The sweet taste of victory after adversity. The lesson?
Never quit on yourself. Ever!
No matter how bad the situation there is always a way out. Sometimes you just have to absorb the shit and wait for life to give you an opening and then bam. You’re out. You’re back on top and it’s your chance to win. (I would advise putting your guard up at these times so you don’t tale unnecessary damage!)
Life is suffering….but also impermanent
Attending my Buddhist retreats taught me a huge amount about life. The reality of life and also how disconnected we are with the truth of who we are and where we live.
Buddhists believe that life is suffering. They say that the cause of this suffering is us wanting things to be different from how they are. That is we either want more of the good stuff or less of the bad stuff. The end of suffering the Buddhists call enlightenment.
In our terms, it is accepting things for how they are. Understanding our wanting and doing our best to be more present and release our grip on desire and rejection.
This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive for things. Especially when these things are good for us, our families, our communities. However, if we can learn to let go of our grasp a little on how much we want these things. Then we can make big steps forward in our happiness.
We must also understand everything is impermanent. The good and bad will come and go and understanding this will help us whether the bad or the obstacles in our lives a little better as situations do not last forever.
Changing this attitude towards life will mean that we can enjoy the good times when they are here and accept them when they are gone. We can be positive in dealing with bad times as we know they will not last forever.
This is truly a lesson well learnt by myself over the past years. I realised at the top of the mountain on my silent retreat that I had created my own suffering over the past few years.
Yes, I got in a bad situation with work, it wasn’t all my fault, I did meet unexpected obstacles. However, instead of accepting and controlling what I could, I spent a lot of time beating myself up and compounded by a bad relationship sent my Mental Health down.
I spent a lot of time in a bad headspace because I wanted things to be different from how they were.
Spending time Solo is a very powerful thing.
My trip to Thailand was a fantastic solo adventure. Something I had never done before (the solo bit). I met some incredible people and saw some beautiful sights.
It was so liberating being able to decide what I wanted to do each day. I didn’t have to consult anyone else. I didn’t have to navigate anyone else’s needs or emotions. I could get up drink coffee where I wanted, eat where I wanted and walk as far as I wanted.
As a 30-year-old, I have never done this as I have spent my 20’s in long term relationships. The freedom was incredible.
The other thing it gave me was confidence in socialising. I quit drinking alcohol 19 months ago. I had always used it to help build my confidence and interact and after my last relationship, I had concerns about my ability to do this without booze.
Turns out I’m all good. Sober Daniel doesn’t enjoy the same things as drunk Dan but that’s all good. Drunk Dan makes bad decisions so he’s benched!
I also did my first solo Peak District adventure the other day. It’s weird I normally think about doing stuff with people, they’re busy so I don’t go. I now relish an opportunity to go out and explore on my own.
So many people jump from relationship to relationship without allowing themselves to be confident on their own and solve any unresolved things that they need to. They search for what they are missing in someone else which is never an ideal start for a relationship.
Anyway, I’m enjoying the Freedom! I’m enjoying navigating this new relationship with myself.
I would highly recommend solo travel or at least solo adventures! There’s a lot of growth to happen from it!
Peoples judgements and criticism often highlight more about them than you.
The pandemic obviously hit this year which highlighted just how many people are insecure and anxious about their own health. There’s been a huge amount of finger-pointing and fear.
If you observe and look at the people who are panicking and getting crazy and abusive you may find they are simply highlighting their own issues. I’ve been on the receiving end of self-righteous abuse from people who are quite frankly not healthy and deal with anxiety.
Although it can be hurtful, upsetting or downright annoying. Understanding that they are merely projecting their insecurities and flaws onto you at least helps take the sting out of any comments that they make.
It’s just useful to remember that someone who is happy, content and self-aware will not blame, point the finger or abuse other people. Therefore do not worry about anyone who may point the finger at you. I personally wouldn’t bother responding half the time and if you do just respond with love, kill them with kindness.
There is no point arguing with someone who is unaware as this will just drag you down to their level as we know we cannot force others to change or think differently. That comes from within.
Find Your Vibe Tribe
My first retreat in Totnes showed me that there is another way to live. It also showed me that there are a whole type of people out there that are on their journeys and care more about things such as the environment, looking inwards, philosophy and being a good person.
This basically made me realise that I need to find more people on my vibe. I needed to find friends who can socialise without alcohol, who are up for hikes and physical activity, who can hold an intellectual conversation (Not juts banter).
Travelling was a great start. While I was away I met some awesome people who I connected with straight away. We spoke about life, about spirituality, philosophy. We ate, we drank, we laughed and connected. I met some friends for life.
This year I also left a friendship WhatsApp group as it was not at all my vibe and I found it negative to be part of. I was told by one of my good friends that I can’t cut people out or I’d be alone. Needless to say, I put him straight, I’m not here to take shit from people who are supposed to be friends! (And neither are you.)
Four weeks later I was invited to join another WhatsApp group by some Instagram runners. It was to join them as part of a team to take part in a virtual relay. This group was full of positivity, encouragement and good vibes. We remain connected on Instagram and hope we will all meet up one day.
This shows that once you clear space in your life and you align with your beliefs and values. You begin to tell the world what you want and you never know you may just it get! Weird huh!?
Getting professional help is worth the investment
As a personal trainer, I’ve always valued the service that a good coach and mentor provides. It accelerates your progress, giving you knowledge, encouragement and empowerment to achieve things that would take you so much longer on your own. It also helps avoid painful mistakes and saves valuable time.
I’ve had Personal Trainers before, I’ve been to therapists and I have a Mindset/life coach. All of which have been hugely valuable in my journey. In my development, physically, mentally and spiritually.
This year I hired a mentor to help me start Blogging. I knew I wanted to write but I didn’t really understand what blogging was, how to start, how to use it to build a brand. I also hadn’t been educated on writing since I was in school, not to mention have the confidence to write things and put them out there.
Hiring my mentor Michelle was the best investment I could have made for myself and for my brand. After I had completed the blog mentoring I then jumped into her small podcast academy which again was fantastic and resulted in me soon launching my podcast.
Could I have done it all myself? Sure. Would the result have been as good? No.
Not without a huge amount of trial and error, self-doubt, panic. Lot’s of research and a lot of swearing! Even then Michelle has years of experience as an editor and there’s no substitute for that!
I know it costs money but if you can afford it, whatever you are trying to achieve I highly recommend hiring a coach. It will be well worth it!
Other peoples growth is their own responsibility
Something I personally have always struggled with since transforming my own life when I was younger, is the frustration that comes with trying to help people that don’t want to be helped. Or rather trying to help people who say they want help or change but refuse to do the necessary work.
It used to get me when I was a personal trainer. I couldn’t understand people paying for a service and not doing the work to transform their lives for better health and happiness.
I also believed that by changing my own life, I would lead the way and be able to help my family address their health too which sadly didn't happen. Although after many years something clicked with my Dad and he’s finally addressed his health and made huge steps forward in that department. (I'm very proud of him)
It’s incredibly hard watching someone repeat the same mistakes over and over again. It’s so hard watching someone sabotage their chances at happiness by remaining in toxic relationships or not addressing the things that are preventing them from growth and happiness.
Of course, much of this is subjective and we need to be aware of us projecting on others. However, I struggle to care and love someone and not get frustrated when they consistently put themselves on a course for stress, bad health, heartache and trauma.
However, what I have learnt is that you have to detach with love. That’s still loving them and caring but it’s understanding you are powerless to help them and that it is their journey and their responsibility to change. You can love them but detach from the situation.
This is incredibly hard to do. I tend to detach from people completely. So I’m still learning to still love and care for someone while not allowing their pain and upset to cause me trauma.
We cannot control what other people do. Every one of us is in charge of our own growth, our own life and we have to accept that. If we do not, we become a nag, a criticiser and we push people away.