Beware Your Expectations
Oct 14, 2019
Often when I write, I am simply sharing my experiences; what I’m currently learning or what I’ve learned. Basically, most everything you read from me is a glimpse inside my life; a look at where I’ve been and perhaps the direction I think I’m going. This week I wanted to share a not so great experience but perhaps an invaluable lesson.
I recently had the opportunity to travel to Boracay Island in the Philippines to lead an exercise retreat. It was the Becoming Bulletproof Retreat, a vision created by my great friend and OS Lead Instructor, Piers Kwan. The event itself was amazing. I met the most wonderful people and I got to share my passion about the human design and all the wonder I think it possesses. We even inspired non-English speaking people from other Asian countries to crawl on the beach with us. My friend, Joey Yang, even showed an injured Korean man how to rock. This resulted in that Korean gentleman taking off his back brace and walking - which was quite amazing. We later spotted that man practicing rocking in the middle of the courtyard by the swimming pool.
Anyway, the event was awesome. My overall experience, however was less than awesome. You see, and I’m still trying to process this, about a week before I left my uncle was telling me about how he got sick when he traveled to another Asian country. He had eaten or drank something that made him ill. And he was asking me how “tough” my stomach was. Naturally, I said it was tough enough. And rightly so, in my head, I heard what he said and I dismissed it as it would not be an issue. But I think what happened is that what he said actually went deeper than my head and made its way into my soul. And here is where the problem comes in.
The whole time I was on the island, I was apprehensive about eating or drinking anything. As a result, I barely ate and whatever I ate, I ate with extreme caution. I was using prudence. You know what that means? It means I was being guided and controlled by fear. I let fear dictate my thoughts and actions towards the meals in Boracay. And you know what happened? I got SICK. I got really sick. So sick, I didn’t think I was going to be able to come home. So sick, I was thinking I was on the other side of the world, the furthest point ever from my home, and I was going to need to find a hospital somewhere; only where is a hospital near Boracay?
I was the only one in our whole group to get sick. And this sickness did almost keep me in the Philippines. Here is how powerful the brain-body connection is.
Naturally, fear of my escalating situation escalated more thoughts of fear. Every time I began to think about being stuck and needing a hospital or not being able to get back home to see my kids, I would immediately get nauseous and have hot flashes. The instant a dreadful thought came, I would feel even more horrible.
Fortunately, I was able to pick up on this response and practice what I preach: breathe and smile.
I kept breathing deep and telling myself “A merry heart does good, like a medicine.” And it did. Somehow, this tiny bit of awareness and practice helped save me from total destruction. I also had the support of two amazing angels back home, my wife and Sarah Young, who kept encouraging me and lifting me when I would spiral down. I don’t know that I could have made it on my own. Did I mention yet how my brain started going into dread territory?
I could not have been more blessed to survive a 20 hour airplane trip back home. Anyway, what I’m trying to process is that I got absolutely what I was expecting and keeping in my soul. The thoughts that ruled me are perhaps the thoughts that yielded my outcome.
Why would I expect any different? The body follows the head. Our thoughts, our inputs, produce our expectations and our outputs. Not only did I allow the seed of fear to take root in me, I fertilized it the entire trip. And then, well, it yielded a bumper crop.
Anyway, I lost seven pounds and I could not eat more than a few crackers for three days. It was a maximum strength effort for me to walk through the airports and get on my planes. Don’t forget on top of this sickness, or underneath it really, I had massive jet lag having traveled through 12 time zones. I’m sure the jet lag didn’t help with my mental faculties or my decision making, right? After I got home my wife put me on a mandatory 20 pound weight gain effort. She also put me on a mandatory “Do nothing” for a week. I was pretty wiped out and puny when I made it home. To say I felt slow and tired is a massive understatement.
If there is any lesson here, it would be this: Guard your heart. Be careful the thoughts that you keep, even the ones you don’t know you are keeping.
If you are driven by compulsions examine what lies underneath them. Is it fear that is causing your thoughts and your actions. That was the case for me. To label it as prudence was simply a lie. I was acting out of fear, I was certainly not bold and courageous. And I know better, that’s the rub. And maybe that’s the lesson. It doesn’t matter what you know as much as it matters what you practice with awareness. Unawareness allowed my fears to dictate me and my outcome. Instead of stopping to examine my motive and the driving force within me, I just went with it. And it lead me right to the place I didn’t want to go - the only place I was focused on.
Guard your hearts, my friends. None of us were made for fear. But all of us can fall into its trap.