In the past five years, an incredible battle has been fought in me internally.
Picture an epic battlefield scene in a movie.
On one side, we have my physical brain, challenged and damaged from hydrocephalus, and continuously putting me through the ringer of shunt malfunctions and brain surgery.
On the other side of the battle lines, we have my heart. The values and work ethic that I have are a combination of my personality traits, and how I was raised. My heart is fortified by the fact that I know God has a purpose for my pain, and is with me every step of the way. I’m also just naturally a fighter, “a scrapper” as my dad says. I don’t back down easily, and I don’t give up.
And so, the battle rages.
But as time goes on, and the difficult days stack up, I end up with some fatigue, emotionally and mentally. This is where my the strength of my mind comes in. This past year, I’ve sharpened my focus on mindset, and I have found that it has absolutely become a factor in my success.
My mind teams up with my heart in the battle for my wellness… and fights against the physical challenge. Even right now, as I am working through some intermittent shunt failure, I am confident that my mental strength plus my heart will beat out any physical challenge that is ahead.
When I met Freddy Sandoval, I knew of his work as a professional mental skills coach. I knew his story… a highly motivated and incredibly intelligent kid from Tijuana, Mexico, who persevered through many challenges to become a major league baseball player, and now a successful mindset coach in professional sports. Freddy and I talked at length about my health issues, my family and career dynamics, and the way I see my role in the world around me. His insight and guidance has been instrumental in strengthening that bond between my heart and my mind… which allows me to overcome the physical pain and brokenness brought on by my hydrocephalus. I’ve worked extensively at understanding myself, steering my thoughts and giving purpose to the way that I think. I am more positive, and have learned to eliminate negativity from my life. I make choices every day, to control everything I can control about my situation - and I take responsibility for those choices. Even though Freddy doesn’t train me as an athlete, we prepare my mind in a similar way. His programming is centered around controlling the subconscious mind through conditioning, thought replacement, relaxation and affirmation. I am forever grateful for the role he’s played in my story, and for his unwavering dedication to me. It’s been a game changer. In times when life’s roller coaster is screaming down the tracks, I feel peace, and I’m safe and still.
Being mentally strong does not mean that you don’t have emotions, or that you don’t feel pain. There are times when life feels like a giant gravel pile that we are trying to climb. As you take one step up, you slide back down to where you started. When these times come, and it feels like the physical army is beating the mental army, I stop and reset my resolve. I speak of myself in the present tense. “I am… I do… I can…” These statements replace the ambivalence of “I might… I wish. I think… and I want…” The simple act of only saying things as they are right now, in this moment, will change your thought process. So much fear and anxiety is rooted in thinking in the past or the future, so eliminating those things keeps me focused on the truth that is right now.
I strongly encourage you to concentrate on staying in the present tense. The good thing about staying present, is that time is only truly experienced in the here and now. This means that if you are going through a difficult or painful time, you only have to live those moments one time. Just keep walking. The fastest way through the shit is straight through the shit… no detours. But in a parallel statement, you only get to live the beautiful moments in life one time… so stay present and enjoy the beauty that lies in the small things as well.
Hydrocephalus is always a factor in my life, and may always be. I have no control over the things that lie ahead, but I am confident that I am able to get through what I’m going through right now.
I am strong. I do love my life, and trust that God is in control. I can put in the work that I know will help, even when it’s painful or difficult. Today. Not tomorrow, or next week. Today.