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We’ve all been lied to. Did you know that?
All our lives we’ve been told lies about who are our real enemies and who are our true friends. Today, I’m going to talk about the truth behind these lies so that you can figure out why it is that you don’t always have a satisfying life, and what you can do to correct that.
In particular, there are five things that I’ll be covering in this post that we have been taught to avoid when we should be embracing them. And counter to that; these five come with things that we’ve been taught to embrace that we should really be avoiding.
Consumerism promotes physical comfort.
Almost every piece of advertising and every product you see is designed to make life more ‘comfortable’. Physical pain, on the other hand – particularly being cold or enduring the discomfort that comes from physical exertion – is “bad,” and you should be trying to avoid it. You should be feeling soft and safe and warm at all times.
Yet the cold and physical pain are two of the best teachers and character builders that you will ever find.
Comfort is just for recovery. It’s just to heal yourself after exertion so that you’re ready for the next attempt. Too much time spent in comfort makes us weak and fragile. And as you look out into the world, you can see it’s full of weak and fragile people who have been lied to. They believe in comfort. They’ve been pursuing it for so long now that they’re unable to handle real-world suffering.
Guys like Wim Hof and David Goggins show us the benefits of suffering and pain. If you are able to willingly expose yourself to physical discomfort – to cold and physical exertion – you will develop your mind and your body to become more resilient, harder, stronger, and better able to survive the trials of life.
(As we go through each of these five lies, I’m going to give you examples from my own life where I discovered the difference.)
And for this particular one, I think of the example of ordering pizza, something I’ve done many times in my life. It’s one of the most comfortable activities you can do. You sit at home, they bring it to you, it’s already cooked for you, it feels good to eat… and it’s unhealthy. That’s a classic case of comfort.
As opposed to a time recently where I went hiking with some friends and we got caught out in a thunderstorm. They were with their very small child, about 2 years old, and we were all huddling under an inadequate temporary shelter. We were about two or three kilometers away from the car, and it was almost hailing – that super heavy rain. But I volunteered to run through that rain, soaking wet, freezing cold, and struggling due to being unfit at the time, just to get to the car to be the hero that rescued everyone.
Now, which of those do you think built my character more: ordering pizza, or running in the rain?
The second lie we are taught is that “fitting in” is better than being embarrassed or rejected.
Embarrassment is just hormones flowing through the body. All of those emotions and sensations that you associate with “bad” social experiences are just feelings. Nobody ever actually died of embarrassment. And yet you’re told to avoid it like it’s the fucking plague, as if it’s actually dangerous to be different. You’re told it’s bad to be embarrassed and to have people not like you.
Through things like bullying – whether we experience it ourselves or we just see it vicariously – and through media and TV shows showing that rejection for being different is bad, and so on, we built up an image that is bad to not fit in.
The real truth is that in order to fit in you have to sacrifice your integrity. And that’s a whole lot worse than a bit of embarrassment!
You see, when you lose your integrity, you essentially lose yourself. When you’re no longer living by the values that you believe in, you start to lose sight of what they even are. In the end, you might fit in with everybody but you don’t have a fucking clue who you are anymore. And there is absolutely nothing worse, nothing more existential and miserable, than not knowing who you are or why you’re here. You trying to fit in has caused that problem.
You standing out, you risking embarrassment, you risking rejection, in order to be who you really are, is the solution to that problem. And no, it’s not going to hurt as much as you think.
Example from my own life: I used to play in a covers band. We played nice songs that were very popular and we always filled the local nightclub with people. For four hours, I’d be up there slapping the bass… playing songs that I fucking hated! I would have never have listened to them by myself. I was only doing it for popularity and a bit of money.
Years later, shaking with anxiety, I stepped into my first salsa dance class. That first class led to an obsession with dancing. At the time, my friends mocked and ridiculed me for being there (they all thought dancing was “gay”). I was also the beginner, so I sucked during the class and maybe a couple of people laughed at my clumsiness. There was a lot of embarrassment and humiliation and social shame I had to go through to find dancing.
But which do you think is more rewarding: Playing music I hate to people I don’t like, or dancing? Dancing meant finding my passion, finding something I thoroughly enjoy, and actually finding my wife. Is that not worth a little embarrassment?
The third lie we’re taught is that safety is good, and that fear is what keeps us safe.
This is also known as the “comfort zone” – being comfortable and safe means trying to stick with something that’s familiar rather than going into the great unknown. It’s funny really; the lie is that we perceive fear as being somehow related to safety. We think if we’re afraid of something then it must be dangerous, and if we’re not afraid of something then it must be safe. But when you stop and think about it, that’s fucking ridiculous.
Notice how fearless people are about getting into a motor vehicle, or drinking alcohol, or sleeping with a stranger. Fear doesn’t seem to stop people doing that shit, and yet those are some of the most dangerous activities you could possibly ever engage in (in terms of survival and health risks).
Instead of those very real threats, people are afraid of starting their own business, which is actually an excellent idea if you do it right. They fear being deep and intimate with other people, even though this is what’s needed to build great connections and it allows you to feel true love and is the cure to loneliness. People fear even going to the gym or trying out some sport that’s unfamiliar, yet these things are really good for your body.
So the idea that fear keeps you “safe” is fucking ludicrous.
Fear doesn’t keep you safe; it keeps you familiar. Fear isn’t about your survival. It’s about keeping things the same. Fear will kill you to keep things the same! Just ask anybody who’s been in a series of abusive relationships. They aren’t afraid of getting into those relationships, they’re afraid of getting out!
Fear is the threshold to growth. As Will Smith once said,
“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.”
This means if you’re not regularly choosing to experience fear and engaging in acts of courage, then you’re declining (because you’re not growing). There is no plateau – you’re either going up or you’re going down. So if you’ve spent a long time feeling safe or familiar, odds are your life is slipping ever more down into mediocrity.
One day you’re going to wake up in a panicky sweat and go “What the fuck am I doing with my life?!” and it will be because you avoided being afraid.
There is no such thing as ‘fearless’ (except maybe for pure psychopaths). James Bond is not a real person. Real people who do great shit with their lives regularly experience fearful sensations.
This doesn’t mean terror. You don’t have to go into the realms of being absolutely terrified, because that’s just too much fear.
But fear manifests in smaller ways: procrastination, confusion and doubt, hesitation and reluctance, and just general discomfort. These are the types of fear that you should be facing at least once a day, if not more. These types of fear are your friends.
A great example from my life was my old career in the Department of Corrections. I mean, I was killing it there, I was doing really well. I was really good at my job, super familiar, almost no real challenge in it. I was in the zone. By the time I was in my 5th year or so, there weren’t many days that I felt afraid in my job. It was pretty easy.
You compare that with starting my own coaching business. That was fucking scary! Everybody doubted me. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I took all these big stupid risks. I was just constantly in the unknown every other day. But now I fucking love my career – it thrills me to do this work.
But I still don’t stop. I’m still doing things I’m afraid of every day. Even creating posts like this can be uncomfortable for me. And that’s what’s given me a fulfilling career – not being good at shit but regularly going into the unknown.
The fourth lie we’re taught is that losing is bad and winning is good.
I want you to take a moment to think about what “winning” really means. It generally means one of two things. Either you were the best out of everybody who was competing, and or you were lucky.
How much character do you build being the best? Or being the luckiest? I’m not saying you aren’t pushing yourself when you win, but perhaps you would find a little more in the tank if you had stiffer competition.
Losing, on the other hand, and in particular losing when you tried your very best – like going to failure and going beyond what you thought you’re capable of but still losing – creates a completely different story. It means you chose challenging competition, it means you really had to push yourself, it means you probably got better.
There’s a story that occurs to me. I once watched Usain Bolt win a gold medal in the Olympics, one of the many times he did that. By the end of the race he was well ahead of everybody else – a few body lengths, and clearly he was going to win. He looked around, saw that he was well ahead, and then he slowed down! It’s the Olympic final and yet he slowed down. Now, do you think you would have slowed down if he was in second place?
Winning does not last. All it tells you is that your competition was too easy, that you’re a big fish in a small pond and it’s time to move up to a bigger fucking pond. Winning is actually a form of graduation, it’s time for you to move on. If you’re losing, while busting your heart out and trying your best, then you’re probably right where you need to be.
An example from my own life: I used to dance Zouk competitively, and my partner and I would win pretty much everything that we competed in. I know this sounds good, but the reality was we were competing in a small pool. There weren’t very many people to compete against and none of them were as dedicated or training as much as we were. So it wasn’t really much of a success to win. We didn’t get much feedback from that and we weren’t pushed to grow because really, there was nobody to fight against.
Compare that to my first time I got into Muay Thai kickboxing. I was put in the ring against somebody who was training for the K1 competition, a beast who was also prospecting for a gang. He whooped my ass. He absolutely destroyed me. I almost vomited from the shock and pain. But there was something about being in the ring with this intimidating and dangerous beast that brought out the best possible me. I defended myself to the death because I was up against a real challenge.
If I’d been fighting some six year old and beating him half to death, I wouldn’t have learned anything.
And the last lie that we’re told is a rather tricky one, and that is that “supportive” people are good and “discouraging” people bad. Or should I say, enablers are good and coaches are bad.
See, sometimes your true enemies are actual people, those closest to you no less. One of the most difficult lessons I think anyone has to learn, especially if you made your friends or developed your relationships when you were in a particularly low-confidence place, is that odds are those relationships are not very healthy.
These are the people who might appear to be very supportive of you, but their support usually involves restricting you. If someone discourages your growth and encourages you to be more comfortable and conformist, they’re not your friends, they are enablers. They are enabling your addiction to comfort.
Compare this with hiring a coach or a mentor, somebody who doesn’t give a shit about your “poor me” narrative is going to push you to be the best that you can possibly be. Someone who will not take shit from you on the pathway to growth. A hired coach, or a mentor or particularly critical yet supportive friend – they are trying to get you to grow. They’re not enabling any addiction. They try and help you get clean.
Your friends and family might think they have good intentions when they’re telling you to “slow down” and “pick your battles” and “play it safe” and “don’t burn your bridges” and “take it easy.” But what’s really happening is they’re projecting onto you – it’s called ‘transference’ (a.k.a. manipulation). They’re afraid of what you’re attempting to do, and they don’t want you to prove that it can be done because then they’d have to question themselves and their own mediocrity.
If they can talk you out of doing it, though, they’ll be able to convince themselves that it is indeed impossible, and then they won’t feel the guilt of not living life to the full. So they’re not really doing this for you, they’re doing it for themselves… and you’re letting them do it.
Coaches and mentors will be hard on you. They might hurt your feelings. But they’ll be doing it for your own good. Their agenda is your success, not your comfort, and they’re willing to get uncomfortable and for you to be uncomfortable in order for you to achieve the kind of life that you deserve, and to make the most of the one shot you have on this planet.
An example from my own life: When I first mentioned the idea of starting my own business, I remember sitting in the lounge once with three of my close friends, all of whom were lifelong employees and knew nothing about starting a business. Every single one of them was trying to talk me out of it. They even said something about the “economy being too tough,” like they know what the fuck the economy is!
Compare that with the coach that I hired for $3,000. All he was saying was “Are you at least 80% ready? Because if you are, go for it!” It turned out he was the one who was right. Worth every fucking penny. And the one successful businessman I knew also told me to take a risk and go for it. Why would I listen to anyone else?
It’s easy to break free from these five lies and live in a more truthful way, with just a couple of simple actions each day.
The first one is something that is physically uncomfortable, preferably cold, like going for a long run in the rain, or having ice-cold showers or ice baths. Or at least when you do physical exercise, going all the way to failure, going until you cannot lift another gram.
The other one is to do something that’s socially awkward for you. Most of our fears are socially related – we’re worried about what other people think. Breaking through those fears is how you see the truth behind these lies. Do something that stands out socially, something that’s awkward. Like for me, it’s trying to practice Czech language when I barely speak it. For others, it might be approaching a stranger, or not wearing makeup on your night out.
And while you’re trying all this stuff, get yourself a coach. I’m really not just trying to sell my own coaching here. I’ll recommend other coaches to you if you like! I don’t care who you work with as long as you work with someone.
There are no Olympic athletes who don’t have a coach, okay? The top performers in every field have someone who’s got their back. So get someone for yourself because your success is not a priority for many of your friends and family. It’s as simple as that. They might love you, but your success is not their agenda if they are comfort-seekers.
I hope you enjoyed that post. Hope it wasn’t too hard on you. Thank you so much for reading. Please share it around, comment below and most importantly, subscribe to the YouTube channel if you enjoyed it.
And if you do want some references to other coaches or indeed you want to work with me get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll help you get to the next level.