The Doldrums

The Doldrums

May 23, 2014

The Doldrums

 

 

By Josh Hunt

 

 

 

Pink berserker skull 3Wow, it has been a long while since I last posted, honestly too long. It’s not that I haven’t been inspired or had a lack of desire to write. In fact I wrote an article in mid-March, the problem was, it was one of the most negative things I have ever put down on paper. Hell, it might have been one of the most pessimistic things I have ever thought of. To be honest I was not in a good headspace. I had recently gotten back from a work trip overseas, which beat me up and frustrated me to no end. Frankly, I was pissed off, let down, and burnt out. During this time I tried to work out, but found it hard to do after working 13 hours a day, catching a cold, and trying to lift in a hotel (truth be told it was a nice hotel with a great gym, but it was still a hotel). I came back exhausted after spending over 48 hours traveling (there and back) and working my tail off, only to be thrown into some high level projects with short suspense’s back at the office. As I worked through my professional dilemmas and stress I ran into other hurdles; social stresses, a fledging relationship (I do want to point out this isn’t a bad thing, in fact it is great. However, there is an adjustment period from dealing with just Josh to dealing with the needs and desires of another person), poor diet, and a plethora of other stressors. My head was clouded, I was upset, felt that I had no time to enjoy myself, and started to globalize. You know the feeling: I need to get all these project done at work, get the house ready for spring, deal with taxes, get to the mundane task of everyday life, and make time for working out. At this point I didn’t want to powerlift.

 

 

This may seem strange to some people. I have friends that I train with that are absolutely jubilant even time they go into they gym. Nothing affects them negatively in regards to lifting; the gym is their happy place. I call these people freaks; I’d love to be like them. However, I can’t be happy about training all the time. Sometimes, I feel like lifting is another job, the motivation is not there, and I resent it because of the sacrifices I have to make in order to be an athlete; like not having a few beers on a Tuesday with friends, or not being able to play racquetball because it will wear me out too much, or the fact that there are times that all I feel like I do is work and lift. I call these the doldrums. It is a weird depressed state of mind that feels like it will go on forever. Often it becomes a vicious circle; I want to take a break from lifting and training in general, but if I do my emotional, physical, and mental health will suffer. So I force myself into the gym, then get upset because it is hard work, time intensive, and not something I would like to do at the time. In the super negative article I wrote I really expounded on these thoughts and feelings that I had then, and started to talk about the pathologies that I have which are factors into feeling forced to work out and be in the gym. Basically, I was alluding to insecurities that I deal with that make me hungry to compete, prove my worth to myself and other people, and feel accepted. I think these are very integral parts of who I am, and I will expand on them in the future. Right now, this article is an exercise in illustrating how I flipped a switch and changed my mindset from an ungrateful, angry, frustrated lifter into a person that is excited to train and happier in general.

 

 

I believe it is part of the human condition to be myopic and ungrateful from time to time. Think about it, most of us often think about what we want or don’t have: a bigger house, more money, a healthy relationship, a bigger bench press, a six pack, more time, etc. I think this can be attributed to evolution. It is a natural imperative to want more, the more food, safety, and comfort we have the more likely we are to survive and provide for our family, thus ensuring our genetic code goes on. As humans, like most everything else, we have a tendency to take the path of least resistance, which is counter to being an athlete and can lead to frustration because it make life less easy. We as part of a very comfortable modern age have not developed the ability to overcome some of these primal directives, so we tend to feel we need more, or that life is not fair because we are lacking is some aspect of life. This coupled with the fact that I am probably the most negative positive person you’ll ever meet (I am a cynical realist, who finds humor in the woes of life because they are much funnier than the good things) put me in a – let’s call it training depression. I didn’t want to train, I didn’t want to go to work, I just wanted to sulk and bitch about the world and how it is unfair to me.

 

By this time it was late March/ early April and the tension was building. Then like the genius I am I decided to take on more stress. I volunteered for more projects at work because I felt if I didn’t do them they would not get done. I took on a remodeling project at home. I had some strife with a friend, and of course other things that made me upset happened. As I said earlier I was in a place that wasn’t healthy. I was seething and felt like I was unable to enjoy things in life. I was at mywits end, and then it happened….Perspective hit me like a Ric Flair chop and I woke up. I took the time to think about all the things in my life thatwere causing my poor mindset and I let the frustration go. I can’t really tell you how I did this, I think it was a number of things, some of which I do not have the capability to articulate. Here is what I can tell you happened; I started to see progress on the remodeling job at home, I had a few really good training sessions with a new bench press shirt. I realized that my girlfriend was able to listen and support me in a way that I haven’t felt in some time, my friends and training partners were invested in me doing well at my upcoming meet and really in my life in general, and many other factors. Then I took some time to think about all the things I had taken for granted. I stopped compartmentalizing thinking that certain things were only good in a particular case and started looking at the grand picture. What is the grand picture you ask? This is what I think it is: I am a healthy, independent, freethinking man with wonderful friends, employment, and the ability to choose to be happy. Over the next few weeks I started to meditate on things that I should be grateful for like the ability to walk, having freedom of speech, not being bogged down by illness or hunger. The list is pretty much endless. We all take so many things for granted. When was the last time you put on a pair of shoes and thought, holy hell there are people in this world that have to walk barefoot over dirt roads? Or that coffee is fairly easy to get and that we don’t have to be concerned about harvesting, roasting the beans, and procuring clean water? How much of a pain in the ass would that be? I don’t mean to sound like an elitist or allude to the fact that everyone in this would is has no gratitude. I just feel it is easy especially as a person in a first world country to forget how good we have it and the choices we all have. I can choose to change jobs, I can choose to be in a relationship with whom I want, I can choose to be happy that I have reliable transportation that gets me to work, the gym, and everywhere else I want and need to be.

 

 

I started to focus on things I could change, or at least change my perspective on. One of the exercises that I did and still try to do is; as I walk from my car to my desk I try to feel the air around me and think how nice of a day it is out, how I like the pairing of my tie and shirt, how I get to work on things that challenge me, and how I’ll get to train with some great people later that day. Now, I am not saying that I am this everything is great and life is good filthy hippy that loves everything. I would hate myself for that. I am saying that things usually aren’t as bad as we want to think they are. I still deal with frustration, stress, and upsets; I just try to look at the whole picture and each stressful item from a different angle. For example like most people I can feel overworked and under appreciated at work. But, from a different angle I am employed which gives me the means to not only survive, but also do things that I want to do. I also realize that I get upset because I am passionate about what I do, and the system has not beaten me down into an apathetic and lazy person. I get to try to make things better and go to sleep proud of my accomplishments.   Instead of looking at training like something I have to do that steals time from my personal life, I look at the positives. I have the health and desire to not only train but to compete and be competitive. I have friends that support me in my journey. I have the conduit to relieve stress and work on myself. I can quantitatively measure how I am becoming a stronger person.

 

 

 

To be a cliché, I found that I have the ability to choose to be happy or to be upset. This is actually a good barometer for me. If the cliché seems campy, trite, and overused that usually means I am in a bad mental state. On the contrary, if these over used sayings make sense, have gravity, and I feel should be considered in my everyday life because they have profound truth, I am in a good place. Right now I am hungry and tired because I am cutting for a competition tomorrow. I should be miserable and upset, but I am not. I am excited about competing. I am looking forward to sharing beer, chicken wings, and fellowship with my powerlifting brethren after the meet. I am happy that I get to expose my girlfriend to a part of my life she has not seen. And, even though I am anxious about tomorrow I am glad that I made the decision to sleep in today, to take a walk on Cherokee street in downtown St. Louis this morning, and relax the rest of the day. I got a chance to clear my mind, focus on the task ahead and be happy that I am who I am and have the ability to do things that make me happy. We all suffer from some sort of emotional, physical, mental, or spiritual block for time to time. However, it is on us to choose to not let that bring us down or define us. Call me what you want for thinking this; flakey, dreamer, unrealistic, fake, whatever. All I know is a few months ago I was overwhelmed and currently I am content. We can overcome negative thoughts if we choose to; it takes work, patience, and time. Don’t dwell on the things that stress you out and make you unhappy; think about all the things you have going for you and the gift that is the chance to live life and have options and choices.   For me things are good, I am out of the doldrums, I have had a great training cycle and I have to move some freaking weight tomorrow.

 

 

 

–    I know it gets hard

They’re out to get me

But, you’ll miss the greatest part

I will do everything I can. – Glass Cloud

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