All or Nothing?

Typically I turn into a piece of shit when anything doesn’t go 100 percent perfectly. One small thing and it becomes an entire failure.

At the start of the year, I told myself that if I run 1600km this year, I’m going to all of a sudden feel better about myself and life will just automatically be amazing. WRONG!  I got to 770km about three weeks ago and then just like that, my back gave out on me and then I turned into a 100 year old man. Despite the injury kind of sucking, I think it’s probably the best thing that could have happened to me because it’s given me a chance to realise that not only running, but so much of my life is all or nothing and I would like to actively change that type of behaviour. I’m also in a pretty good headspace to manage the situation because I realise that perhaps there are other aspects to my life than just running as a way to make myself feel better and live a fulfilling life.  Typically I turn into a piece of shit when anything doesn’t go 100 percent perfectly. One small thing and it becomes an entire failure.

I have so many examples of all or nothing behaviour I can share, but I could be here all day… A pretty basic and PG-rated example is coffee. I am flat out addicted to drinking it. I spend so much of my day thinking about drinking coffee and where I’m going to go and get my next fix from. Swap out coffee for anything else, and that’s how I live. I’m not saying I do everything to the extreme all the time, but maybe I’m just pretty intense about a handful of things which make me feel irritated and annoyed. I generally struggle to see any middle ground about a lot of things yet I can be very compassionate and empathic enough to understand the middle ground in others – just not myself.

I can’t understand why I can’t think logically about my own logic…

Don’t get me wrong, I’m feeling great recently, but I also recognise that this may be short lived because I know myself well enough to know that I have planted a seed in my brain about feeling all or nothing about things and that in itself can produce a spiral of negative thoughts that could bring me down. Who knows? It’s uncharted waters for me… By approaching quite a number of situations within my life as all or nothing, it is maybe at this point in time where I actively seek to do something about it instead of talking about doing it.  I’m great at talking about things, but implementing – not so much.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, I’ve been seeing a psychologist to unpack a lot of the shit in my head. I’m finally comfortable admitting that I’ve got a good head on my shoulders, but I’m not entirely comfortable about the way I process a lot of my thoughts and beliefs.

…A little left field here, but I’ve got a swag of photos I’d taken while I was away and while they may not be directly related to any particular content within this story, I’ll tell you a bit about each photo and some background around where my head was at during these snapshots in time.  I think a lot of my Japan experience in 2016 helped me arrive at this point in my life – amongst other things. So, I guess they are kinda still relevant…

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I didn’t know these legends before I found myself randomly on a bullet train bound for Fukushima and stumbling across a tiny little Hawaiian bar. I got drunk, we jammed on the ukulele, I smoked cheap cigarettes with the guy on the left, we all ate late night ramen and then did a photo booth. Best part of this story is I had nowhere to stay and the second guy from the left let me crash at his house overnight. Seriously nice guys and I loved how this episode of my life panned out! 

 

…seeing a psychologist…helps me see myself through another person’s eyes.

Anyway, back into the blogging action…  I get frustrated by myself a lot which really is dumb because I’m the kind of guy who can spot a better way to do something at work a mile away – except my thoughts. I have to put myself and potentially others through a lot to arrive at a solution. I think because I struggle to control these thoughts makes me highly predisposed to being ultra critical and a bit of an idealist about what perfection looks like – which feeds into this all or nothingness. While seeing something broken outside of my own existence comes relatively easily to me, I struggle with building solutions into my own life. I can’t understand why I can’t think logically about my own logic…

Seeing a psychologist I believe is a very healthy thing to do and I’m not at all ashamed to admit I see one. I don’t think I would be who I am right now without taking the step to see someone.  That’s the hardest step to take.  If I didn’t go, I’d just be running the same scenarios over in my head a million times over and be completely out of touch with my own reality.

The beauty about seeing a psychologist for me is that it enhances my self-belief by cognitively processing through bullshit thoughts then thinking logically about the matter and moving along. Not only that, it helps me see myself through another person’s eyes. It’s like a non-judgemental lens where deep-seeded thoughts can come to the surface and be dealt with in a positive and active approach as opposed to letting the thoughts consume me.

I chose not to head down the medication path as I’ve been there and personally it wasn’t for me, but I’m not here to discuss what is right and wrong. It’s personal choice. What I won’t do any longer is turn a blind eye to some of the issues that have led me to the person I became over the last 5-10 years. In order for me to progress as an individual, positive actions need to be taken to replace the old, negative thoughts.

…I should not run so much to prove a point to myself or anyone else.

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Here’s a picture of me thinking I’m awesome because I’m smoking a Cuban that a mate gave me. This is after quite a few hours of drinking and wanting to (re)live the dream of my Japan experience 15 years ago. This was about two weeks into my Japan trip in 2016. It was still hot as balls and if you get to know me, you’ll know I am a hardcore sweat machine. A white sweaty guy in a white t-shirt in Japan in summer was a bad choice…

I injure my back quite regularly which is telling me a few things about myself.  The most important and relevant lesson being that I should not run so much to prove a point to myself or anyone else. I went from weighing almost 100kgs late last year after coming back from Japan for three months, to saying “right, that’s it! I’ve had enough of being overweight, time to do something about it!” to bringing my weight back to around 85kg. It’s been a completely unhealthy and shoddy road to success (if you can call it that!) and now my arse is paying for it with injury.  I’ve listened to my body this time around and I’m taking it easy, but so I don’t put the weight back on, I’m taking the approach this time to eat well despite my injury.  Healthy eating is really helping me to establish a healthy mindset. I was hugely cynical about this for years, but now I’m converted – just need to stick to my guns!

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Still right in the thick of a humid and hot Japanese summer – early September 2016. I was getting pretty ‘cuddly’ by now – creeping towards the three-figure weight category. I was sliding very snuggly into a pair of 36″ Dickies and refining a ‘dad bod’ having never been remotely near being a dad in any capacity. Think I did about 5km and it nearly destroyed me as I was nursing my 2016 back injury… I was using running here as way to turn around the changes that had taken place a few months prior which I’ll get to in later blogs…

Usually if I injure myself it’s an excuse to become a fiend with food. I’ll get into my eating some other time, but that’s my drug of choice. I will eat most people under the table, so I’m extremely luck to only be 85kg. Eating is just another prime example of my dedication to being a pretty extreme person with a highly addictive personality. I’m certainly not the chilled out, fun-loving dude I guess friends and others see me as sometimes. This is all behind closed doors – until I’ve started sharing my thoughts in this type of forum. No turning back now…

At the start of the year, I guess I chose a slightly more considered approach to building my endurance around running because I wasn’t working and had all the time in the world to focus on myself. I worked my way up from 5-10km per week up to 35-40km over the course of 6 months, but rarely focused on my eating. Running was usually out of the immense guilt I placed on myself from eating too much shit all the time.

In the last six months or so, I’ve been able to get my times down to where I am relatively quick, but I was lacking the discipline around dieting and stretching. It ended up being a numbers game for me prior to the injury.  “Gotta get my 40km in a week otherwise I’m a piece of shit and I’ll get depressed and life will suck!”. See – all or nothing! That kind of mentality. Can anyone else relate to that? Maybe not the same scenario, but similar thought process?

What have I learned?

So before I said I was seeing a psychologist. Well, I thought I’d share some of the advice I’ve received. There were a few things they called bullshit on which has given me some clarity to be able to turn a few things around:

  • Take time and enjoy things!
  • Plan!

The list goes on, but I’ll try and unpack these two points and keep it simple. These areas I feel relate to my all or nothingness. Remember as I said in my first blog, the purpose of me writing these blogs in this heart on my sleeve way is valuable for me, so how you engage with my thinking is up to you. I just hope there might be something in it for you or maybe can give me advice about…

Take time and enjoy things!

Current Situation

I guess I’m in the process of building myself a life again for myself back home so I’m looking at this area with some importance, but if you knew my current situation, you might think I’m living quite the opposite to where I want to be. Right now, I live in a dorm style house on a major road in Adelaide. Cars and trucks fly by all night – not to mention the sound of planes and other strange sounds.  I live with people who mostly keep to themselves, or steal my shit and don’t replace things and is nothing really like any share house situation I’ve ever experienced.

I’m not complaining about it because I chose to live here and it’s serving a need. I put myself in this situation so I could live close to the city and take a punt on living back in Adelaide while I’m trying to figure out life in general.  More importantly having a space that is my own allows me to devote some time and effort to improving how I can deliver Move2Live so we’re all getting some value out of it.

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Here’s me pretending to enjoy a moment at the northernmost point in Japan, Cape Soya. Background story is, I woke up late as usual, spent an hour taking photos around Wakkani, which incidentally is like the town Japan has forgotten. I hopped on a bus to see the cape knowing I only had 45 minutes to enjoy it before I had to race back to grab the train for the six hour journey back to Sapporo. Either side of this photo is me running around with no plan and short of time to take it in. The point is, I made it to the top – I just didn’t do it in an enjoyable and planned out fashion.

Coming Home

Prior to living near the city, I was staying with friends for four months and before that I was travelling throughout Japan for three months, so the last year has been all over the place, but in reality the last 2.5 years of my life has been a self-imposed, all over the place ride and not really that amazing, but needed to happen I guess…

I came back to Adelaide because my dad had a heart operation, my life savings was running out and I needed to earn money to live. Same old story. Had the equation been slightly different, I could have been living elsewhere, studying something in another part of the country – that when I think about it now has little to know relevance to my life anymore.

I always seem to come back to Adelaide slightly defeated, yet willing to reinvent myself despite trying to resist living here for so many years. If it feels good, do it, right? I’ve always seen myself living elsewhere, but it never turns out that way. Maybe I actually need Adelaide as security blanket because I know I won’t have any major issues setting my life back up here. I guess it’s not a bad thing, but living here makes me flighty…

My whole point is that I’m not a settled person in case you haven’t already worked that out. I feel like I’m a nomad and I like moving around and seeing as many things as I can and not really take the settle down option. But is it healthy? Not sure. I think this flightiness is related to being an all or nothing guy. I’m too busy thinking about the next big adventure, or the past and because of that I don’t take time to enjoy what I’m doing right now.

Eating Well – And Enjoying it!

If I look at my eating and taking time there, it just doesn’t happen. I’m eating on the run and focussing on the next destination. Recently however, I’ve actively listened and changed some of my eating behaviour which, for the first time feels like it’s working. I’ve never felt more energetic. Generally speaking though, I’ll spend hours in my car and on the move so I buy lots of food – never cooking for myself.  While I’m not a huge fan of my living situation, it’s serving a purpose. When I moved in, I continued the take-away food path of destruction, but in recent weeks, I’m making the time to cook for myself and then sit down and enjoy the food I’m eating. It’s not glamorous cuisine, but it’s getting better and I’m feeling healthier because I’m eating the right foods. It’s also encouraging me to cook a variety of different food. Go me!

I never thought in a million years that if I ate better, I’d feel better. Such an obvious solution, but I was always focussed on the exercise as being the only solution to feeling healthy and well. Something as simple as enjoying the food I’ve cooked for myself and taking the time to eat in a relaxed fashion is having profound effects on my all or nothing attitude. Because I’m eating better almost every day now, I don’t feel as guilty on the days I don’t exercise and it gives me the drive to do other forms of exercise, like yoga and skateboarding that I can enjoy. I’m not impressing anyone with trying to run a marathon a week – I’m just doing myself damage because I’m approaching exercise in the wrong way. Doing a variety of exercise makes each one more enjoyable, less of a chore and strikes a balance. The balance is the key and I guess for me, it’s a skill I must learn by breaking my life down into smaller steps if I’m predisposed to an all or nothing thought process.

Plan!

I feel that I am planning things better than I have in the past and a lot of what I’ve spoken about regarding enjoying myself directly relates to how I choose to plan my life. I’ve never been good at planning things because I’m only ever focused on coming up with the idea – not working out how to roll the idea out as a practical solution. This trait spills into both my personal and professional life, but I’m very mindful about doing things to change here.

Food Planning

Once again, coming back to food, I’m making the plan to buy food weekly and having to think about how I can turn all of these independent food items into something I might actually want to eat. It’s kind of an unfamiliar concept for me because for as long as I can remember, I’ve just bought food. Once you have an eating life like you have in Japan, nothing compares. You can get anything you want, whenever you want, and it’s super cheap. Why would you go to the supermarket and buy food when you can eat quickly and cheaply? That life is engrained in me, but I’m slowly beating it out of me. It’s like going first class and then being asked to go back to economy.  I’m serving up economy food at the moment, but I want to get better. At least to the point where I would mostly want to eat my own food over eating out.

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Ahh, ramen. How I miss you… I got to a point of eating ramen almost everyday in Japan last year. Very obsessed by it. A Chinese doctor I saw in Japan said my liver is the reason I get back problems and I’m eating a highly fatty diet, too much sugar and so on. While I yearn for ramen, I can live without it at the moment because I feel good about eating well. 

 

The list goes on with making plans, but the approach I’m going to take is to just plan a few things and see how they go, rather than planning every single aspect to my life because I will continue living an all or nothing life and nothing will ever change. I know making plans might come very easy to some people, but for me and I’m sure there’s a lot of other people out there too that just don’t know how to plan, or aren’t naturally geared that way. I want to learn and grow as a person, so I will plan some things and try to relax about others.  That feels like I’m striking a good life balance and hopefully will teach me to enjoy the life that I have.

Well, that’s another blog dusted. Thanks for staying there with me to the end. I’m working towards every three weeks to write a blog at the moment. I want to take the time to get what I’m writing down, but I also want it to matter. And in the interests of practicing what I preach, I don’t want to put so much pressure on everything in my own life that I end up doing nothing. Like everything I seem to be doing at the moment, I’m going to take the considered approach, build a few steps for me along the way to do it and hopefully I can build some new and positive ways of living a meaningful life.

Cheers!

Michael

 

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2 thoughts on “All or Nothing?

  1. Love it Mike! Atleast you’ve got the “all” part of your personality… I’m a classic “jack of all trades- master of none” kinda person. ☺️
    I reckon you’re pretty good in the kitchen btw…..There’s something to be said for old sayings like- “you are what you eat” hey!??

    Liked by 1 person

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