I sympathized with a client and shared how I was struggling with the stress of managing all the things that are part of my day to day. How I was finding it difficult to keep FOCUSED on the good. How I was noticing I had a short fuse and small things were setting me off. To her surprise and frankly to mine, she said “WOW, I did not know that you struggled with such negative thinking, you’re Ira, always smiling, always upbeat, always positive.” That conversation spurred this post. I felt I needed to share the “other side” with people. Whenever I receive feedback from a speaking or teaching engagement I am always grateful to see the words “inspiring” as part of the feedback. I love that I have a platform to inspire people and help them hope for something greater. But what I never want to do is create a GAP between where they are right now and where they aspire to be. A gap that they feel is out of their reach because they do not embody the perfect characteristics or traits required to obtain it. It is one thing to be INSPIRED, it is another to step out in belief to actually accomplish stuff and the illusion of having to have it all together is freaking intimidating.
As a personal trainer I have been on the inside of many successful people’s homes, yet I have never met a single person who has it all together, who is not struggling with anything. In fact some of the people I have met that have the most are the one’s struggling the most. They cannot say things like “if I only won the lottery, things would be different”
I have had some hard days/weeks/months over the last decade, whether it has been struggling to make ends meet, dealing with loss, mourning strained relationships, being confused over which direction to pursue, losing sleep with anxiety or fear surrounding my kids. Dealing with relational conflict, being frustrated with jobs and workplaces. Being heartbroken over situations I had no control over. The little voices in my head can sometimes be overwhelming, depressive, frustrating and feeding anger and anxiety.
Why do I share my struggle? Well the light hearted hashtag #thestruggleisreal, is not always light hearted. I think we can sometimes help more people by being vulnerable rather than always trying to appear perfect, put together, and on point.
One thing I do know is my hardest times have been just what I needed to breakthrough. The unbearableness of being at rock bottom led to the willingness to recognize my stubborn ways long enough to do something about them. The reason why I identify with your struggle and know just what is going on in your head is because it is happening in my head too.
Over the years I have learned to feed the fire I want to burn more brightly. There are times when my journal is filled with negative, angry, pleading, ungrateful, prayers and I sometimes would walk away from my journaling time, more anxious, more fearful, more unwilling to tackle my day. Looking over my journals from years past though, things have changed. There has been a growth in my spirit. A willingness to reevaluate and give up my comfortable yet ineffective old ways for the awkward uncomfortable new ways. I have become more ‘self aware’ and developed the discipline to feed the fire I want to burn in my life. I have to CHOOSE which voice in my head gets valuable space in my day. I am learning to respond to life rather than react to it. What I want you to hear loud and clear though is the inspiring, positive, uplifting nature you see come out of me has passed through a filter of prayer and thanksgiving and sometimes that filter is filthy and the process was laboursome and difficult.
There are days where being inspiring is extremely difficult and draining. One thing I recognize though is that relationships have boundaries. It does not serve you well if I show up with all my baggage and throw it on you unexpectedly. I believe in living a life of service and when I commit my time to someone to serve them, that environment requires me to show up with my best and the focus needs to be on them. My baggage has appropriate places to be unloaded. My prayer time and my faith is a place where I cast everything. My wife who knows me best helps me through my times of need and my close friends and family are other appropriate places to voice my struggles and ask for the help and guidance I need.
This I know. Nobody has a clean filter. Everybody struggles, #thestruggleisreal and not always in a lighthearted joking way. We are all striving to move from point A (where we are) to point B (where we want to be) so let’s stop working so hard to make it look effortless because it ain’t!
Sincerely, Ira McNamara