Once upon a time I was nothing but a mess!
A total mixture of emotions spiralling out of control. Waves of sadness, loneliness and insecurity would come washing over me. I would be drowned in tears as they poured out of me uncontrollably.
My heart rate would be thumping out of my chest, my concentration would be scattered and I was just constantly tired and fatigued.
I vividly remember during a difficult times, where I was trying to complete some push ups with my team mates at footy and I couldn't even do one.
I hadn't been eating, I had lost my appetite.
I wasn't sleeping, my mind wouldn't stop.
I hadn't drank much water in days.
Who was I? How did I find myself in that position?
How did a seemingly healthy, passionate young teacher with the world at his feet end up there?
I still reflect and ask myself everyday how I came back from that. What got me off the canvas and catapulted me towards finding out who I truly was...
Maybe it was the love and support of my family, perhaps it was the phenomenal psychologists I worked with or maybe it was just knowing my mates always had my back...
The truth is, it wasn't any of those things and all though they all played an important role in helping me recover, the real reason I overcame that harrowing and disastrous time in my life was because of me.
After battling a mental illness and seeing the impact it has on your life and family, things start to be put into perspective pretty quickly once you are faced with a real life problem, like when you lose a loved one to a terminal illness and see the ramifications and pain this terrible tragedy has, you really start to see the path of least resistance.
When I was at my lowest point, I was on leave from teaching, I had just broken up and moved out from my partners house, I had all my belongings rammed in my car and the only place I had to go... was home, to Mum and Dads. I needed time away from teaching, from the city, from my phone, I just needed to escape and so I did.
I retreated to the place I call home.
While I was there broken and shattered I spent an afternoon with two very important "uncles", one who is a pillar in the family and another who had been given a very short prognosis before the medical teams thought he would leave this earth.
Speaking openly and honestly about how I was feeling was the best thing I ever did. The self-doubt, fear, worry, insecurity, burn out and anxiety that had built up during my teaching career, was all compounded by my reluctance to speak to anybody about it. I honestly, believed I had been burnt out and depressed for at least 12 months leading up to that point.
Hearing a grown man with two awesome teenage children talk with positivity, optimism and belief while suffering from terminal cancer, where his days were numbered... changed my life.
That moment, seeing the perspective he had when he had every right to be negatively thinking was what I needed to take total control over my life and my mindset. I made a promise there and then to not let mental illness and burn out control my life and ruin my vitality.
I began a journey that I am now internally grateful for. I started to work on myself. Day in and day out to this day... I went to work. I make time each and every day to care for my body, cultivate my mind and to nourish my soul.
18 months after having my "emotional catastrophe" I have been anti-depressant medication free for the past two months, I went cold turkey of the Lexapro, because I believed I could control my emotions and well-being with the strategies and habits I had developed.
My journey stimulated many new discoveries, but none more powerful and meaningful than the birth of Smile Teachers. After working on a program for over a year, I finally had the faith and confidence to share my story with the teaching community.
After much hesitation, editing, reviewing and collaborating I finally released my story.
All I wanted to do was show other teachers that you are not alone. That mental illness does not define you, that their is a way to control the negative emotions and thoughts and that if you are prepared to do the work you can manifest whatever you desire in life.
Since the launch of my initial podcast and website the response has been incredible. Smile Teachers is now reaching tens of thousands of teachers a week with empowering, inspiring and collaborative support and resources. We have built a community of teachers who believe in what we do and share their love and passion openly and freely.
I am eternally grateful to each and every teacher, school, principal, manager, family member, friend, colleague etc. who has thrown their support behind Smile Teachers. You are helping me fulfil my dream and passion of helping more teachers and schools to be happy and health.
I wake up every day and feel so blessed and inspired to be sharing this experience with each and everyone of you.
So what changed?
What I want to share with you today is what I believe to be the most critical factor in changing the course of my life. Saving my life, saving my career and saving my relationships.
The Power of Positive Thinking
My self-talk and self-sabbotage used to be a real problem. I would constantly put myself down, whether it be about my appearance, my lack of something, I used to question whether or not my own friends actually wanted me around. I would convince myself that relationships would end badly before I had even given them a chance. All of this anxiety and worry just caused me more sadness, loneliness and depression.
Does fear of failure, constant mind chatter or self-doubt impact you?
The ANT's or Automatic Negative Thoughts as Greg Mitchell calls them were rampant in my mind cave. This is all to common for stressed and tired teachers.
Changing my negative thinking to positive thinking was critical to my survival and success. This is just one specific factor of my well-being that changed my life for good and is now allowing me to do the work that I am so passionate about. We are developing a plethora of programs and resources to help other people change their mindset to be happy and healthy.
How do you take control of your conscious mind?
I found a book by Brendon Burchard and it was the start of a huge shift in my thinking.
You start to discipline the mind by making healthy decisions.
You decide to change your thought patterns and you do the work to make this a reality.
RWID or the Relative Weight of Importance and Duration of your thoughts is how you measure the impact thoughts are having on you.
Relative Weight= the relative weight you give to your thoughts
Importance= the repetition of the thought makes it important
Duration= how long these thoughts last for
If you continue thinking negative things your mind will be conditioned to bring these thoughts up more often. I love using the news as an example, if you watch the news every night and see all the negative bullshit on their, what do you think you are conditioning your brain to think?
You need to create a rule to construct positive thinking. Where you automatically think about the positive rather than the negative.
-Catch yourself and evaluate
-Are they supportive or objective
-Pay attention to what you think
-Be attentive to them and redirect them
-Interrupt the negative thoughts and change them to a more positive outcome
How do you do this?
Think of what would be the opposite of the negative thought you are having and focus on that while your repeat it to yourself. Eyes closed, Repeat, repeat, repeat.
If this is hard then think of something totally different that makes you happy and joyful. Visualise it- assign importance to it, feel it, sense it and allow it to have an emotion from you.
The more attention you give it for a longer period of time will create a sensation.
Creatively force your brain to think a positive though and focus on it.
Check out this picture and think about how it makes you feel. Close your eyes and picture yourself actually being there. How does it feel, smell, sound, look and taste?
Reprogram your mind to think positively.
Change the way you think, change the way you feel.
Start with this daily simple activity:
On a sheet of paper or in your journal.
Number 1: Daily questions to ask yourself something positive
What made you smile today?
Who did you compliment today?
What was a golden moment?
Number 2: 3 words that describe your ideal self
Set these as a reminder on your phone or laptop
Number 3: Send a text, email, letter or message randomly saying thank you and why to a special person.
I guarantee you this will change the way you think and feel.
This is just one shift that occurred during the process of figuring out who I was as a person and when I learned to love myself just the way I am. This is available to each and everyone of you, just keep following Smile Teachers and share our resources.
This will be a global movement where we systematically change the way teachers, students and all people think and feel. We are committed to providing the highest quality experiences that change lives, just like I changed mine.
I love all of you very much and am so grateful :)
My heart is full, have a wonderful day.
Do you want to improve your thinking patterns?
Why not join us in Bali this January for our school teachers retreat?