Anybody who lifts weights, or knows a little bit about how the body works, knows that in order to build newer, stronger muscle, you have to literally tear through/break down the old muscle first. And it’s painful. It’s what the sore feeling is (well, assuming you didn’t actually hurt anything).
Now take that knowledge and apply that to your mental state, and how you perform as an athlete mentally. In life, I think there will be instances that break you down emotionally and mentally. It’s scary, and it’s painful. And most of the time, we think of those as negative things. But maybe it’s because we don’t know how to recognize them for what they are. Imagine your mind is a muscle and can be trained the same way. Isn’t the point to take it to a breaking point every so often, so that it can regenerate and build something even better?
I think what we have to embrace is that life is going to throw us things that break us down, and that’s a good thing. It’s a muscle that needs to be broken, and then rebuilt, stronger and better than before. I think that’s where the expression, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger comes from. If you think of it in scientific, muscular terms, it makes a lot of sense.
The only difference is that with exercise, we know exactly how to take care of ourselves after we’ve pushed our muscles to a “breaking” point. We rest for at least a day before using it again. What about your mind? What do we do when we’ve been taken to an emotional breaking point? I think that’s a little less understood and a little less clear, also because it’s probably not the same for everyone.
But that’s for you to figure out. Once you are broken, how do you get back up? That’s probably one of the most important things you can figure out for yourself. What helps you generate emotional energy? And start incorporating that into your routine, so you can stay at your new plateau.
For me, I thought exercise was that thing that did it for me, but recently I realized that doesn’t work anymore. I discovered that the new thing, that new thing that keeps me energized, is dance. I sort of always knew it, but I had no idea how important it was to me. That’s my thing, the thing that brings me emotional energy, and that thing that helps me function at my new emotional plateau.
I think it kind of shook things up for me when one of the people who I was talking to about the grant we won before, won the same grant the year after we did, and recently got bought out by Google. And I was super happy for them, they are doing incredibly cool stuff. But it also brought things in perspective for me- what I’m doing, or what I’m trying to do, is very very different. It’s not immediately obvious, the market is incredibly fragmented, and the upside is still in question (not in my mind, but for potential investors, sure). It’s just that…I believe so strongly in what I am doing, and what the potential can be, that I want to spend every waking minute of every day, trying to make that dream a reality.
And it’s tough. Because I realize that every day, it’s an uphill battle, trying to just push the needle a little bit farther. Trying to prove people wrong. And we’ve done a fantastic job so far- most people didn’t think we could do what we’ve already accomplished. But I want to keep going. I want to take it to it’s completion, or at least, what I see in my head.
Obviously, sometimes, you will break. It’s normal. If you think about it, it would be really weird if you didn’t. Anybody doing something outside of their comfort zone is probably going to break. Because being able to operate at that mental state is a learned skill, not something you are born with, or not something anybody is born with I don’t think.
Which is why, every morning, from 6-7am, you will find me in my house dancing to hindi music. It helps me realize what’s important in life, why I’m doing what I’m doing, and keeps things in perspective. Don’t ask why, I can’t really tell you. But it makes me ridiculously happy and I am totally ready for whatever the day has to bring.