Going Through A Dark Place

During times of heartbreak, loss, and struggle, it’s easy to think we have to feel depressed. Often we’ll resort to the mindset of “I don’t deserve to be happy.” This is merely the beginning of a slippery slope towards a dark place.

The good news is we don’t have to go there. We can choose to focus our energies elsewhere. It’s not easy, but it’s doable if you put your mind to it.

The following are some of my favorite mindset tricks towards staying positive:

Can’t Change It

A lot of the time, we focus on the “what if.” What if this hadn’t happened? What if they had done something differently? What if I had done something differently? This puts us in a state of lack. When you’re living in lack, you’re focusing solely on the negatives. It leads to many more and drives us towards that dark place.

Unfortunately, you can’t change the past. What you can do is focus on where to go from here.

Open Yourself To Positives

If your situation is really dark, it’s easy to think there are no positives. That’s understandable. There are so many clouds of negativity that it’s hard to see through them. But maybe you don’t have to. Instead, what if you look around them?

Start looking for the positives no matter how bad the situation might be. Simply being open to this concept will allow you to see wonderful things around you that you weren’t aware of before.  Finding just one will make your situation incredibly less painful.

A Brighter Future

Trying to envision what the future looks like is hard enough. It’s twice as hard when going through a struggle. Dark times can make us stronger. We learn from these experiences and grow in an incredibly powerful way. The next time we encounter something similar, we’ll be better prepared. More importantly, we’ll be able to help others who may be less experienced.

Why I’m Sharing This

Earlier this week, I learned my longest childhood friend, David Kendricken, passed away. He was twenty five years old. I was devastated when I learned the news. It nearly put me in a dark place myself. Instead, I decided to apply everything I learned from personal development.

Let me clarify: This doesn’t make our situation “okay.” It means we’re accepting the “can’t change it” mentality and allowing ourselves to get through in a positive way. Some of the positives I’m choosing to focus are seeing some friends who knew Dave very well. Perhaps I’ll make more friends this week whom I wouldn’t have met otherwise. We can preserve his memory by sharing stories. (I got plenty 🙂 )

For those of you who knew and loved Dave, please keep the following in mind:

Forgive yourself for how you’re feeling right now. Especially if you’re feeling any kind of depression or guilt. You’re human. And if you were friends with Dave, you’re probably a damn good one too.

Be open to finding those positives. We’re not trying to be perfect. In fact, f**k being perfect. I hate that word. Just try to find one. See what happens.

Dave, you were a hell of a guy. I always knew you were. But looking at all of the love on your facebook page tells me that plenty of others knew that too. While this situation isn’t ideal, I see so much love from your friends and family that I can’t help but feel it too. Thanks for spreading that to all of us.

Love ya, “son.”

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Jealous Of Successful People? Try This Instead

I’ve been chatting a lot with people regarding the topic of jealousy and comparing ourselves to others. It’s an easy trap to fall into. Your friend gets a speaking role on Chicago Fire. You’re still struggling to find representation. Clearly they’re doing something right and you’re not……right?

WRONG!

I’m going to ask you to put aside your thoughts that you “absolutely know to be true,” as well as your pride, just for the next few minutes. If you’re always getting jealous and comparing yourself to others, this could be a game changer.

Stop the comparison

Don’t compare your beginning to someone else’s middle. I’m not talking about age. I’m talking about your specific beginning to whatever path you’re on. It’s your path. Just because someone reaches their goals before you is irrelevant. Stop paying attention to them. Start paying attention to you.

Stop focusing on the negative areas

A habit I’ve noticed that jealous people have is that they’re putting their energies into the wrong places. When they could be focusing on what they could do better at their next audition, they’re focusing on how unfair it is that someone else got the part they wanted. Not only does this lead to a bunch of negativity, but it’s a waste of energy. Literally, it’s exhausting. You need that energy so you can reach your own goals. Don’t worry about theirs.

Next, avoid the mindset of “they got the part because they’re better than me.” If you are an actor, start reading Backstage articles. Get involved with Dallas Travers and Courtney Rioux. You’ll very quickly learn that there’s a million and ten reasons why you didn’t get cast – and it usually has nothing to do with you.

But that’s a topic for a future post.

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Start focusing on bettering yourself

I want you to try incorporating a new mindset: Your friend isn’t better than you. Usually they’re just merely having their “Aha!” moments at a quicker pace.

What’s an “Aha!” moment? It’s the moment where something just clicks in your head and you literally say “Aha! I never thought of it that way!” Having these moments can lead to overcoming obstacles and significantly less fear when chasing your goals.

For example, your friend on Chicago Fire may have had an “Aha!” that they learned in class. Maybe it was regarding something they were doing wrong in the audition room. Because they put themselves in an environment where they can better themselves (a classroom), they were able to move past this obstacle.

Actor or not, start reading personal development books and articles (Leave a comment below and I’ll message you some). Surround yourself with positive and inspiring people (I have another list for that). Avoid anyone and anything that will lead to jealousy or negative thinking.

No negativity

“Tony. This is amazing. I need more. What’s next?”

Here’s the thing: While I have resources, I’m not a teacher. I’m not a motivational speaker. I’m a guy with a blog on a free platform. Maybe someday I’ll conclude my posts with “For $200, I will be your mentor!” For today, you need to start elsewhere. You’ll need to consistently incorporate these positive traits in order for them to become a habit. Once they become a habit, they’ll be ingrained in your head.

And then….you’ll be awesome.

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Find ways to incorporate this mindset on a regular basis. Start small. Then go bigger as you get more comfortable. But start today.

Still not sure where to begin? Comment below. I’m here to help. And won’t even charge you $200 (but will totally accept if you’re offering).

My Unpleasant Reoccurring Theme

Don’t get me wrong – I’m happy with the path that I’m on right now. 2104 has been a good year. That being said, this week I noticed an unpleasant reoccurring theme: I continue to put myself in unpleasant situations. I work a part time job I don’t like. I quit. I experience brief joy that I’ve left the job. It’s soon replaced by the realization that I don’t like whichever new gig(s) I’ve picked up. The cycle repeats.

As I made this discovery, those pesky, negative voices crept in:

Are you really making progress? Is it worth it to keep going down this path? Should you just redefine your game plan and try a different route?

These voices don’t usually lead to much confidence or positivity. Thank god that one positive voice chimed in to save the day (she still thinks I’m really cute, too):

Tony…your goals are enormous. There’s a reason this is taking so long. You’re thinking big.

Damn, she’s good.

While we’re pursuing a crazy, awesome life, we encounter a lot of negativity. There are obstacles and resistance popping up left and right. If they weren’t there, our goals wouldn’t be crazy and awesome. Take mine, for example: I want a full time income from acting, fitness, and writing. That’s it. (I’ll make an exception for something better that may come along.) Oh, and I want them to give me a somewhat flexible schedule so I can have a social life too.

If there is no struggle, there is no progress

Photo credit: http://millerela.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/if-there-is-no-struggle-there-is-no-progress/

Personally, I hate the word perfect because nothing is ever perfect. There’s always one more thing that could make our situation, our jobs, our income, whatever….a little better. But I’m going to use the word in this case: I want a perfect life. I want you to have a perfect life too. Is it actually going to be perfect? Not actually. That would be silly. But in my crazy, awesome, Tony world, it’s pretty damn close.

Go after that crazy, awesome life. Just keep being patient.

Your turn: My reoccurring theme while chasing after my crazy, awesome life is that I continue to get frustrated while working new part time jobs. What theme keeps coming up for you?

Find Your ‘Why’ That Makes You Cry

Ever notice how some of your goals are accomplished quicker than others? Whether we’re busy or just not putting in the time we know we should, some goals get left to the side. Sure, we can pick them back up anytime. But how do we pick them up and stay consistent?

Recently I watched a fantastic presentation that covered a bunch of topics. One of the presenters, Tarah Marie Carr, talked about finding your “why.” She talked about how hard she worked on her business in order to support her family. Because of this strong “why,” her husband was able to return home from serving overseas.

I love her story. Here’s mine:

(Spoiler alert: It’s about food. Not about being in love. Unless you count my passion for red wine and snacks.)  

I have a strong interest in nutrition. This turned up a few notches when I became a health and fitness accountability coach. I got a meal plan, portion sized containers, plus a formula explaining how many containers I could eat for each food group. (You may have heard me talk about this before.)

21 Day Fix

Despite this incredible plan, I still struggled with cravings. I’d go half the week eating clean, then erase my results each time I got tired and stressed. If I couldn’t sleep, I went straight for the kitchen. If I was really stressed, alcohol was inevitable. My goal of getting a six pack was always short lived at best.

Fast forward to last month: I was reading a great book called “Eat That Frog” by Brian Tracy. He discusses different options to be more quick and efficient with your goals. One chapter discusses nutrition. Tracy explains that in order to have the most energy to accomplish our goals, we need to be putting healthy foods into our bodies.

“Aha!”

I started to focus on what negative consequences might happen if I decided to go for the unhealthy options (which I desperately wanted). If I caved and kept going for cookies (seriously, love cookies) I’d feel guilty, upset, and tired. This kept me from being my best self. If I’m not my best self, I can’t get my work done. Translation: “Sorry goals. You’ll have to wait another day.”

Since I quit waiting tables, I’ve had to apply to odd jobs here and there to pay the bills. I don’t enjoy them. Each time I apply for a gig – even if it’s just for a day – I start to feel depressed.

And that’s my why.

I’m done working jobs I don’t like. I’m tired of spending my time learning about products or companies I don’t have a passion for. Each time I start to crave something I know I shouldn’t be eating, I think about these jobs. I think about how wonderful it’s going to be when all of my income comes solely from acting, writing, and fitness. Working on my goals involves lots of time and energy. I can’t tackle all of these if I’m not being healthy. Snacks can wait. My goals can’t.

Sound silly? That’s okay. It is. But it works. Guess who’s showing off his six pack on his trip home this week?

(Oh man, this totally means I’m gonna have a love story to share!)

What’s your “why?” Care to share it with us? (Do it. I promise it helps.)