“By declaring that man is responsible and must actualize the potential meaning of his life, I wish to stress that the true meaning of life is to be discovered in the world rather than within man or his own psyche, as though it were a closed system. I have termed this constitutive characteristic "the self-transcendence of human existence." It denotes the fact that being human always points, and is directed, to something or someone, other than oneself--be it a meaning to fulfill or another human being to encounter. The more one forgets himself--by giving himself to a cause to serve or another person to love--the more human he is and the more he actualizes himself. What is called self-actualization is not an attainable aim at all, for the simple reason that the more one would strive for it, the more he would miss it. In other words, self-actualization is possible only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.”
― Viktor E. Frankl
This quotation from Man's Search for Meaning really struck with me. It alludes that the purpose of life is to find meaning, however if you are searching for meaning, the meaning you attain won’t be authentic; searching for meaning has to come from a place of meaning not to mean!
My life for the last 8 years has revolved around the spinning shape of my earth; triathlon. I have loved every moment of it. Traveling all around the world to train and compete has allowed me to see what most people don’t get to see in their lifetime.
When I decided I wanted to be competitive in this sport, a coach told me, “you've either got a wonderful or terrible surprise coming when you look back in 3, 5 or 20 years and realize the decisions you made now shaped the person you've become. You’ll give up time with friends, family, jobs, money, house, car, etc., but in return gain the opportunity to grow stronger everyday.”
Alas, I took this message to heart, and for the next six years, everything was triathlon or a bust. It sounds good because we think short-term and see people training hard all the time and really start to believe that this is the only way to be good at this sport. If we are being real here, this is the attitude that brought me into major depression and anxiety. This may look good on paper, but this is not the balance we know humans need. To put things in perspective, nearly half of the athlete’s at Big Gear Squad deal with depression. I have been fortunate enough to learn about brain-based training and learning how to counteract the stressors from endurance training. It is not a coincidence that excessive endurance training can lead to depression (⅓ of female triathletes have depression). Without getting too deep into the science, you can reduce your symptoms of depression AND increase your performance by creating a better internal map of yourself. Your emotions and performance is an output of your brain. Basically learning how to create more accurate inputs has automatically allowed me to improve my outputs; not feeling sad when there is nothing to be sad about and noticeably better motor control for fine tuning my technique and power output. Applying concepts I’ve learned from Neuro Drills has allowed me to take off my triathlete blinders and start healing from the repercussions of major depression and anxiety and helped my athletes and I improve our internal awareness (maps) of ourselves.
Even the best athletes deal with depression. Recalling the 2012 summer Olympics Michael said, “intensity has a price."
You have a lot in your life, but are blinded by only seeing and living everything as a triathlete.
Do you have your blinders on? Are you like the child at the mall only seeing the toy and candy stores?
Being present and receptive will open your eyes to a whole new world that is already in front of you. Who else are you besides a triathlete? I’ve been reflecting on this for years now, as I struggle to find this myself. I have sacrificed friends, family, a job, etc. all because I love the sport and the chase to become better. Now don’t get me wrong I am not asking for pity here, in fact I am quite content sitting outside eating watermelon, watching my dog run past me proudly with her stick as I type away.
Training harder and longer is only ONE way to get faster, but you will get stuck in that never-ending loop. Don’t let this sport consume you. Improving your inputs is a more powerful way to allow you to push harder and longer will give you the endurance and stamina to pursue this sport with meaning. Learn to do this and I can promise that your long-term, inner triathlete will thank you.
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