When You Think You’re Going To Die
Today I woke up at 4:00am and for the first time in four months I could breathe.
Big, deep, effortless belly breaths. The kind that I’m used to breathing on a regular basis. The kind that should be readily accessible to me being a yoga teacher and all.
But for the past four months they weren’t there. I felt like I was like climbing Everest.
One step forward. Five labored breaths. One step forward. Five labored breaths.
I feel like I just got pulled out of the rubble from an earthquake. There’s a feeling of lightness that I haven’t felt since sometime in November.
To be honest, it makes me tear up a little just to think about how good it feels right now to be sitting in this hammock just breathing and writing.
Yes, the past four months have been hell. I’ve been keeping a secret for a while.
And that secret is:
I thought I was going to die.
Seriously. Actually die.
I’ve never experienced anything like this.
The Conference For Men has pushed me in ways that I didn’t even know were possible.
I’ve never been so paralyzed by fear. I’ve never had my body completely malfunction the way that it has over the past four months. I’ve never been so out of control with my thoughts before.
In November, I had my first panic attack. As it was happening, I thought for a split second that I was having a heart attack. It was like my chest was caving in on itself.
I cried myself to sleep multiple times.
Some days I would just lie in bed all day, despite an inbox full of emails and meetings to prepare for.
One week in December, I spent a majority of it getting high, watching standup, and eating Chinese food. That was a brief highlight and a necessary intervention.
Then for the rest of December, I stayed holed up in my friend’s apartment in New York City, wishing I was somewhere warmer.
In January, I cut out my main two coping mechanisms. Yep, I’m still sober and celibate. 61 days and counting.
Without anywhere to hide, I faced all of my demons head on.
Some nights I would lay down in bed and just think for hours. My body would sometimes buzz with nervous energy.
I’d have a fever. Then I’d have the chills. Some nights I’d roll around for hours, talking in my sleep and having crazy, nightmarish dreams.
It was like warfare was going on in my body.
Before I got to EXECUTE I was worried that I was going to completely fall apart beforehand. But luckily, my zone of genius is being in front of people coaching and facilitating. So it was actually energizing for me to be there (and healing).
Then I went straight off to Thailand for the entire month of February, which was crucial for my health and sanity. In between rides on scooters and play dates with tigers, I was up late working on the sales page with Sam and Max and crying next to Lisa and Charmaine.
I’d have a really great day, then a horrible day. This cycle went on all month.
And then yesterday, our new website went online. And over 25 affiliates are already on board to help spread the word.
Today I’m sitting in a hammock in Tucson, AZ listening to the birds while the sun warms the left side of my body.
Welcome to entrepreneurship.
Yes, Resistance made me her bitch for the past four months. So much that I regularly thought I was actually dying.
Yet I’m still here.
And I’m so grateful that I got to have these experiences. I’ve never had a panic attack before. I’ve never felt this overwhelmed before. I’ve never worked this hard on anything before.
This just adds to my body of work when I’m helping someone through the same thing. Now I can actually say, “I totally understood what you’re going through.”
Looking back, there were some crucial elements of making it through these dark times. Here they are, in order of significance.
1. I Asked For Help
It truly takes a village.
Throughout the past four months I reached out for help wherever I could get it.
Dozens of friends got on the phone with me as I vented and bitched all over them. They held space for me to be as crazy as I needed to be. And they loved me throughout the process.
As a man, I honestly think one of my core competitive advantages is that I simply ask for help.
I’m not afraid to look weak. I’m not afraid of scaring my friends off. I’m not afraid of showing them that I’m human.
Thank you everyone who supported me. You know who you are and you know what you mean to me.
2. I Moved My Body
On the days when I was feeling a little better than horrible, I noticed that it was usually because I worked out that morning.
The more I moved my body, the better I felt. The less I did, the more I felt like I was dying.
And I learned that it didn’t even have to be a full workout. Even 5-10 minutes of movement made a considerable difference.
Max and I did Tony Robbins’ Hour Of Power in the mornings when we were in Thailand. Those were some of our most productive work days together.
The more I learn about top performers, the more that I realize that movement isn’t just recommended, it’s absolutely essential.
3. I Got Grateful
During the times when I was really dark, one of the only things that would get me unstuck was sitting down and doing some sort of gratitude practice.
Sometimes I’d just sit and write and write until something got through the darkness. I’d write something like, “I’m grateful for dehydrated fruit,” then I’d chuckle and feel a little release in my body.
Gratitude practices are a staple in the morning or evening rituals of many of the most successful people I know.
If you want some random gratitude sprinkled into your day, download this free app from my friend Karol.
4. I Slowed Down
With cortisol coursing through my body and a mild headache most of the time, I wasn’t able to keep up the same pace that I’m used to.
So I slowed down. Way down.
I wrote less. I cut out unnecessary meetings. I took out everything but the absolute essential to keep me and my business going.
And I didn’t worry about what everyone else was doing around me.
5. I Kept Working
This almost seems counter-intuitive to the point above, but it’s not. I didn’t completely crawl up into a ball and die (even when I wanted to).
I kept working. Step by step.
Some days I had only an hour of good work in me. That was enough.
Wherever you are, there is a single step that you can take that won’t overwhelm you.
Take that step.
Yes, I didn’t die, but at times I felt like I was going to.
And even though there is a risk of me looking like I don’t have everything together, I think it’s more important that I share this story.
Because it’s a story that gets told behind closed doors on Skype chats with my peers. But few of them share these stories publicly. They just hide out for a while.
But I share it because you need to know that wherever you are on journey, there will be times where you might feel like the world is caving in on you.
You might feel like there is no way out.
You might feel like you’re totally going crazy.
You might even feel like you’re going to die.
To that, I say, “Great. You’re making progress.”
PS – Share this with anyone going through a rough patch in their relationship or business.