#75HARD – My Journey Through #LiveHARD
I took up the #75HARD challenge to go to war with myself. This may sound absurd considering the spiritual way of life that I live and teach. Apart from my 19 years in recovery from alcoholism and addiction which requires the action of rigorous honesty, developing a manner of trusting and relying on God, and intense work with other addicts, I have suffered from a mental illness for over 40 years called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and a chronic pain condition for over 30 years. I am no longer ashamed to speak openly and without apology about my OCD. Six years ago rap superstar Eminem ft. Rihana produced a hit single called “The Monster”, all about the mental disease called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The Monster video on Youtube has pulled 699million views! Go figure! Having watched this video over a dozen times, the loud and clear message I relate to is the ignorance towards this disease and how it affects those who suffer, and reflects shades of the ignorance towards addiction.
The Monster Within
My experience with this Monster in my head has been like living with a mental school yard bully, who is not there to take my lunch, he is there to take my dignity and my soul. Each one of us has approximately 90 K thoughts a day. At least half of my daily thoughts are dominated by the monster. Fifty thousand thoughts of dread and anxiety every day. Performing physical rituals is the only way out of the terror in my head. However this only brings temporary relief until the monster returns with another mental attack of bewilderment and fear.
Pain Is Compulsory Suffering Is Optional
Chronic pain has been a standing partner of mine for 30 years. Due to numerous complications from my lower back down to and including my feet, I experience extreme pain every day of my life. My lower spinal column is severely damaged and the complications in my feet are beyond medical intervention.
Hence I wrote and published my book in 2014 called “Walking on Fire the Journey Back from Chronic Pain and Suffering”. I wrote the book to carry a message of hope to those who suffer like me. In 2007 I was told by my doctor to start thinking about life in a wheel chair. 13 years later I am still standing and walking on fire and I am on day 57 of the #75HARD challenge.
Addiction – The Worlds Greatest Pandemic
My 21 years of alcoholism and addiction has been the best thing that happened to me. It has set me up for the last 19 years to live a life serving others like me. It has given me the most profound life purpose of helping others without expecting reward. This is an incredible way to live and as long as I am alive I will give away what I have been freely given every day of my life. However there is a dark side to the work I do and intense work with spiritually sick people every day takes its toll. This line of work attracts enormous pressure, it is physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausting and there is no vacation included in the job description, you cannot put people who are suffering from a fatal hopeless state of mind and body on hold while you potter off for down time at the beach.
So as you can see there has been a war raging in me on three fronts over the last 30 years. Although the 12 Step program has been my salvation in my recovery from addiction, and still is to this day, my addiction coupled with the psychological and emotional effects of my OCD and Chronic Pain Syndrome have created an internal malady at a level that cannot be conveyed in words. Chewing broken glass and staring into the abyss comes to mind.
I have been a regular listener of the Andy Frisella MFCEO Project and now The REAL AF podcast for the last year. In my line of work I have developed razor sharp intuition on people’s underlying motives, and almost immediately connected to Andy’s genuine and serving soul. Here is a person who aspires to achieve daily success through action and is committed to sharing his resultant happiness without expecting reward with those who will accept it. Not hard to tell he has been to hell and back to become the person he is today. I connected immediately to Vaughn Kola on the spiritual plane, and love the humility that oozes out of his banter with Andy.
Then I listened to the #75HARD podcast. It was like I experienced an awakening when Andy spoke about the missing link between the plethora of so called life-changing courses and actually achieving success. The missing link between all the material out there and actually bringing that material to life, is the mechanism that will actuate any kind of success principle and that mechanism is called action. In my experience of recovery from a hopeless state of mind and body, it is impossible to read or think your way into a new kind of thinking and living. You can only action your way into a new way of living.
Nothing is wasted in God’s economy, and the fact I only listened to the #75HARD podcast a day before the COVID19 lock down was no coincidence. I started my #75HARD journey on day one of lock down. As I write this I am on day 57. I have walked 137 kilometres as one of my daily workouts performed outdoors. My physical pain activates within less than a kilometre of walking or 10 minutes of standing. It is a stabbing pain in my back and a deep throbbing pain in my feet and they love working in sync. This has been my experience for over 30 years. As I write this article I have to pinch myself to realize this is not a dream, I have actually walked this distance and yet the day before I started I wouldn’t have attempted to walk more than 1 kilometre without experience severe pain. Here’s the thing, I have been walking with a 60 lbs weight on my back, nothing special, a plain knapsack filled with rocks I live in Africa go figure!
How many of us have a war raging within ourselves, but are too scared to admit that to ourselves and others. Nearly all of us! Very few will accept this about themselves and who can blame them. It takes a certain kind of strength and courage to admit there is internal darkness, turmoil and pain. To admit this is to admit weakness, or so our minds convince us of this fact. However to admit and accept one’s own reality is the way of strength, it is impossible to move pass your self-defeat until you accept your own weaknesses. I am not afraid to admit the war raging within me is a battle between my mind that is constantly seeking ease and comfort (the easy way) in difficult situations and my conscience reminding me of the reality of those situations. In simple terms my mind has always been primed to seek the easy way out of difficult situations. My conscience goes to war with my mind until I know that I have done the right thing. This constant internal war is exhausting. It often creates a state of mental defensiveness and emotional sensitivity in me that can only be validated in self-pity. At this stage the monster in my mind kicks in and goes to work in driving me with fear and anxiety, this provokes a chain reaction that forces the physical pain in my lower body to the forefront of my mind and the suffering begins. This is continuous rinse and repeat cycle. It has been a dark and gigantic internal force that has threatened to destroy me on countless occasions and yet here I am, like a cockroach still alive. The only defense I have is living the spiritual way of life of living outside of myself by constantly serving outside of myself through the action of intensive work with people who suffer like me.
I immediately recognized the #75HARD program as the missing link mechanism that would defeat the enemy of seeking ease and comfort in me through action! Repetition confirms and strengthens habit and discipline becomes natural. Actionable discipline is freedom from the bondage of whatever it is that threatens to destroy you. This is the life changing effect that I have experienced after 56 days of #75HARD. There is another effect that I have experienced from #75HARD. That effect is courage. I have witnessed a new found courage developing inside me as I progress. This is a much deeper than mental transformation. This is a transformation of the human spirit, an awakening into a new experience of confidence, courage and purpose to life. It has been remarkable. In 2018 I wrote a book called “Spirit on Fire the Journey out of Addiction”,
I have started writing my 3rd book during my #75HARD experience and will title it “Courage on Fire the Journey out of Fear”.Although I have firmly engage the spiritual disciplines of the 12 step program in my life for 19 years, there has always been an actionable force that would activate the powerful spiritual principles missing in a severe case like mine. The trifecta of my addiction, OCD and chronic pain should have destroyed me long ago, the fact that it hasn’t bares witness to the courage that is there for the taking and is available to anyone who wants it bad enough.
#75HARD is the bridge that is empowering me to walk across from theorist to practitioner. I am fully aware that my only chance of survival is to outwork the darkness in me through a brutal work ethic. I pray this becomes the next frontier of changing many people’s lives through the practice of powerful action. I notice on the #75HARD social media groups that most people share about the physical changes and weight loss. Although I have shed 18 lbs in 56 days, there has been another kind of loss going on inside of me, and that is the loss of the mental burdens that have been standing in between myself and the correct actions that I should be taking in my daily life. This journey hasn’t been about learning how to do the right thing, it has been about unlearning all the bad habits and the mental narrative that has held me bondage to my own bullshit. The extreme disciplines and call to action of #75HARD have suffocated the desperate need in me to seek ease and comfort in difficult situations. The “easy does it” mental narrative in me had to be smashed and this has happened quite dramatically in the past 56 days. This needed to happen before any progress was made.
Thank you Andy Frisella for sharing with me and the world an absolute gem in personal transformation! I will be forever grateful to you.