As the holidays are quickly approaching, I can’t help but reflect on years past, how I have felt and what the Christmas season means to me as I have grown. Above everything else, I remember where I was just a few years ago and what the 320lb version of me was feeling. Confused, depressed, negative, miserable, tired, out of breath and full of Cadbury mini-eggs, I needed a change, and I didn’t know how to do it. I also thought it was impossible. I mean it is, isn’t it?...
For those new to my story, I lived with what could be considered a standard North American lifestyle. I am not insisting that this isn’t a real problem elsewhere, but I can only speak for what I saw and what I lived through. In my lifetime, I worked almost every shift available, relied on fast food (a lot), barely went to the gym (ever), drank every weekend (all of the time, socially… and then because I wanted to… and then just because) and developed the habits that I lived with. These habits, like all of our habits, are created from a whole lifetime of learning and experience. Some are picked up easily, some come from our upbringing or the ‘throwns’ as Gary John Bishop would argue, and some are just what we create on our own as the easy way. It is in the pursuit of making everything easy that our brains naturally try to help us streamline our daily routines. Unfortunately, our brains don’t know when they are helping us and when they are hurting us. Really, sitting on the couch and flying through Netflix shows isn’t hurting us, we are quite safe, but is it the best use of our time AND the healthiest for the long term. We need to be aware of what our own body is trying to do to us and work on controlling it.
Wait, what is a ‘thrown?’ In “Stop Doing That Sh*t”, a book about ending self-sabotage, Gary explains how we will easily beat ourselves up and prevent personal growth because of situations that we are ‘thrown’ in to. These are situations that are every bit beyond our control, such as who our parents are, what city and hospital we are born in, where we grew up as a child, etc. We all have so many of these things that we spend so much time being upset about and blaming others for. Before moving forward, I realize that there are some real problems out there and some awful conditions that people are ‘thrown’ into, it is in no disrespect to those situations but more towards those, including every excuse I used to use, that “can’t… because…”. The situations that we have had no control over absolutely can not prevent us from becoming something great. I have had to accept this and work on avoiding my usual excuses as I grow into areas that were so very foreign and uncomfortable to me before.
In the pursuit of personal growth and overcoming this old version of myself, I started a huge shift in my mindset and have ultimately changed my identity. This all sounds like it is difficult and impossible, but I can assure you that it is much easier than you think. The hardest part is making the decision to change and then sticking to it. Once you decide that you want or don’t want to be a certain way and you work towards doing something about it, you invite the things into your life that will compliment this. For instance, if you decide that you want to be someone that is healthy and in shape, you will think twice about eating a tray of cookies and not going for that walk. This doesn’t mean that you can never have a cookie or not-not exercise again but that you program yourself to identify with the person you want to become. Do this everyday, push yourself when it gets tough and relax when your mind and body needs it and you will find yourself becoming something new, something better.
One true thing in the wellness space, especially for everything I have been working on, is that there can be a lot of pressure put on ourselves to push through and keep going. To use every minute of every day to be the best Father, Husband, Friend, Co-Worker, Business Owner, etc. and to never miss a chance to workout, read my books, work on my courses, and continue my growth. I have heard the Christmas season described as ‘Separation Season’. Using your competitions downtime, holidays, and relaxation to propel yourself way past them. This is very powerful and all a great concept. It will likely help you propel forward but what if you were already grinding through and expelling all your energies into your development, isn’t it ok to relax?
No matter what you read, hear, and believe, you must do what is right by you and the needs in your life. If it is healthy for you, in the season of your life that you are in, to push every ounce of your energy through the Christmas season and to push into the new year, then by all means do so. If the season of your life requires you to give yourself a break and to enjoy the warmth of the holidays, then do that. The separation season theory can add an already massive amount of pressure on you to grow and be better and could ultimately hurt your progress if you aren’t careful. Without overthinking it and creating self-doubt, is a week or two push over the holidays going to propel you forward or is that same period relaxing and unwinding going to? That is up to you.
As I wind down and I use the holidays to relax with my family and recharge, the engines are getting serviced, the tune-up is booked, and my separation season will not be sacrificed. My separation season is not aligned with Christmas holidays but is this entire stage of my life and my constant growth, not the two-week period that someone else might be pushing less than me. The only true separation I am the most concerned about and working the hardest on, is distancing myself from the person I used to be and continuing my growth and personal/professional development.
Whether you are pushing through the holidays or simply surviving, doing what you need to do in this season of your life is the most important. Push when you can, relax when you need to and no matter what, just keep moving forward.
All the best over the holiday season and in 2024.
You’ve got this!