Inside your own mind lies the most dangerous caves and caverns of thought. Somewhere deep inside everyone’s conscience is a little voice that, for some reason, never has anything positive to say. “You’re not good enough.” “You’re not attractive enough.” “You can’t-You won’t”. Anyone who tells you they do not have this little voice is not being honest. That voice is there. The difference is, are you listening to that voice?
It is no secret that it can be difficult to stay positive all the time. Just think of all the things around you that are working against you obtaining your happiness. Everywhere you look there is a commercial, a billboard, a Facebook post, something that fosters negative energy and doubt. I could say you simply become a victim of these things but, that would not be true. What happens is you become a victim of your own self. You are the only person who may determine who you are or who you will become. Your value as a human being is not determined by anyone else on this entire planet! Aside from someone affecting your view of self-worth, there are circumstances we deal with that also affect us. I know from experience. As a matter of fact, I was caught up in thought today and it was thoughts about my personal experiences that inspired this post.
My personal experiences caused me to begin living within the limits of my own negative thoughts. I was in an abusive relationship and became a single parent over night after an altercation. I had just moved to a new area and recently checked into my new unit. I did not know anyone in the area and to top it off, I was on an independent duty which means I did not have the usual support structure of being on a Marine Corps base. I had yet to establish day care for my daughter and I did not know how I was going to be able to work everything out, or if my new command would be supportive. It may sound odd to be curious if a military unit will be supportive of such circumstances but, the variable was the type of unit and my new responsibilities. The entire purpose of me being selected for this duty station was to be the only enlisted Marine there to train, screen and evaluate university Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) students for future service as Navy and Marine Corps officers. One person for the job and now I’m unavailable due to a family crisis. I did have support of those who mattered most. Lucky for me because over time I learned there was one person who was pushing to have me removed. I refused to let this happen as it would taint my career goal of accomplishing this prestigious duty and attaining my next rank. So, now I am constantly watching my back because of the person at work, on top of trying to prepare for multiple court dates in order to finalize my divorce and maintain custody of my daughter. Oh, and let me throw another wrench in the gears; I sustained a serious back injury and was told I could no longer train in the manner required of me. I felt like my entire livelihood was being taken away from me. Marines have to be physically fit! It is an absolute must! Now comes the struggle of physical therapy and building myself back to a level that several doctors told me I could no longer achieve. Well, I did it. I finalized my divorce, built myself back up physically and maintained my poisiton at the university for the next three and a half years. I also picked up my next rank of First Sergeant (E8); which was my career goal. Although there was one more rank to attain as an enlisted Marine, First Sergeant was always my personal goal. Now, you would think after coming through all of that, and things seemingly going my way, everything would be peachy; this was not the case.
I transferred from the university to a new duty station, another independent duty. This was actually a good thing because my body was beginning to fail me again. After checking into my new unit I began talking to the doctors about the many things that bothered me. Most of the focus was once again on my back. After about a year of more physical therapy, and more injections than I can count, the doctor suggested it was time for surgery. I was actually excited for this surgery. I know, how can I be excited for surgery? Well, my mindset was that afterwards I would be back on track to live the active lifestyle to which I was accustomed; things did not go as smoothly as I had imagined. My recovery was not going well, physical therapy was not as progressive as my body needed. I lost range of motion, “severe” (doctors verbiage) arthritis had set in, I lost feeling in my right side from just above my hip to mid-thigh. It was rough because I could not accept what was happening. Little by little I became a victim of self!
As time went by I began listening to the negative voice in my head. I started believing things like I was not good enough, not attractive enough, not strong enough, and not smart enough. You name it and I had basically convinced myself of the most dangerous of all thoughts – I CAN’T BECAUSE I AM NOT “________” ENOUGH. I had since retired from the Marine Corps so I was searching for purpose again. I had no clue as to where in this world I could fit in. I was no longer physically active. Going for a run or hitting the gym used to be my refuge, my release. Now they were things that reminded me of what I cannot do. I gained weight and hated how I looked because I had maintained such a high standard for myself. It was depressing. I was depressed. Then, like a ton of bricks, it hit me; it all came down to one word – FOCUS. With a new found focus I would make a change for the better.
It was time to believe in myself again. Prosperitas Leadership had been a dream of mine and something I talked about for years before I had retired from the Marine Corps. With all the things I had going on in my life, I had lost steam in making it a reality; I had lost my focus. Prosperitas is now a reality because of who I began listening to. I began listening to those friends who lifted me up and to the voice inside me that told me I have an indomitable will and can do anything in this world! The first step was taken and little by little things started to fall in place. Assistance came from places I never thought it would. I had a smile on my face again and began feeling better about who I was as a person. I accepted that I have value and I add value to everyone I come in contact with. My goal has and always will be to simply make a positive difference in the lives of those I encounter. It’s what I want my legacy to be long after I am gone from this earth. I want my daughter to know her father was a good man and did what he could to better the lives of others. Years from now I want her to smile as she tells stories of what we accomplished as I include her in as much as I can. It does not take a miracle to make a difference in your own life or the lives of others. It simply takes a change of focus.
You must wake up….no, why wait until morning….you must determine that right this very moment you will no longer listen to the negative voice inside you. Have the mindset that, that voice inside is not being negative, it is simply throwing out a challenge! Take that first step you have been so hesitant to take. If your goal is to run a marathon, get started by walking around the block. Walk your block every day and before you know it, you’ll be running and one day you will have a marathon medal on your wall to point to and say “I did that!” No matter what your personal goal is, understand that it is neither too big nor is it too small. You can make it happen and you will make it happen. All you have to do is change your focus and make yourself a promise – “I WILL NOT BE A VICTIM OF SELF!”