Stepping into a Vulnerable You.

Even if you’re starting your Personal Development Journey from scratch, my guidance can allow you to leave everything behind and strike out on a new path. Oh - and how to be a happier healthier human :)

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When we get to the point of believing that extinguishing our own life-force is a more preferable outcome than trying to tackle our problems, there are clearly deep issues within ourselves that need to be explored, and we need to make time for healing and work on ourselves. I was that human. I was at that point one Sunday morning sitting at my kitchen table - I had investments in various businesses, I was making a good income, had no debts, a beautiful family and a home. What was going on, why were these dark pervading thoughts taking hold of me? From the outside everything looked so good.

I believe that everyone has an innate ability to sustain a certain level of stress, I like to call it your stress bank, and once you are within your limit at your stress bank, you can cope with everything that life throws at you. Your stress bank limit is able to sustain the daily grind, the annual significant bumps in the road and the usual work stresses. However, it is not conditioned to deal with major life traumas, for such events the mind needs support from the soul, it needs external resources. But what we tend to do at times of significant stress is internalise, withdraw, lock away the emotions and try to ‘move on’. A tactic that may yield benefit in the short term, but now think about your stress bank threshold: you have added a very significant event to that account. This significant life event will leave your account always on the verge of being overdrawn - very little further stressors are now required to spike your anxiety and paralyse your system and leave your account permanently overdrawn. 

This pretty much describes me two years after my son Joshua had died in 2011. People were admiring my strength and ability to rebuild. We moved country, started again, and I devoted my attention to building a new business. Ironically I was concerned that my other son Luca (who was four at the time) and my wife may not be dealing properly with the death of Joshua. I encouraged my wife to seek counselling and we took Luca to one or two sessions over the next few months. All through this period I felt like I was doing really well. If I struggled, I knew I just needed an extra few drinks in the evening to numb the pain. What a fool, if only I could have realised that it is ok to be vulnerable, it is ok to look for help. Sharing pain with one another would start the healing process. 

I remember during the early stages of building a business (soon after Joshua’s death) - I had just finished a presentation to the board of a bank. Their MD asked me to stay back for a coffee and a chat. He asked me “should you really be here, given the fact that Joshua’s funeral was only five weeks ago?”. I laughed this suggestion off and explained that this was my recovery, this is what made me feel healthy. In many ways, that position could have been ok, provided that in parallel to coming to terms with his death, I was seeking help and healing my wounds. No, I was being a ‘strong man’ pushing through pain and in return overdrawing my account at the stress bank.

Stress and anxiety tend to go hand in hand with a bad diet, limited sleep, poor exercise and a constantly busy mind. Substance abuse (alcohol, food, medication etc.) become a means to disguise the underlying issues. However, we can reverse this state of being by having a balanced diet, sleeping well, exercising and taking some time to focus on ourselves (being mindful). 

I am not saying that my diet was the key to my recovery, but just like meditation, exercise and therapy, it was one of the important components. At the core of recovery from trauma is our physical health. If we can first start to build a healthy lifestyle, we can then start to build holistic practices, helping us to become more mindful to help expand our understanding of ourselves. 

Therapy is key to starting this process if you are suffering. The simple act of sharing our problems already starts to unburden us. The right therapists will help you come to terms with these problems and accept them as being part of you. That is exactly the process I followed, and I ended up learning from some incredible Eastern practitioners who changed my life. 

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And in the end, the willingness to do the work, to show up for yourself, is the gelling agent that will bind your practices and create significant lifestyle change. I still wake up and show up for myself every morning. I eat well, I sleep well, I move, I meditate, I don’t drink alcohol ... I maintain these practices to keep my life in balance. There is no instant cure, just the journey, but you can make sure the journey is fun and engaging, which will help you level out the balance of your stress bank account. 

Within three months from that dark Sunday morning, I was feeling happy, connected to life and discovering a better version of me, a version that didn’t even exist before I lost Joshua. This path is available to all, no matter what your challenge, simply look for the path and plan your way forward. It is ok to be vulnerable and it is ok go ask for help.

Justin.

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