By Dave Farlie
'When has anything you've ever done made your life better?'
How you speak and think about yourself matters. It sounds simple but it's a fact that, in our increasingly hectic lives, gets ignored.
Australians are guilty of being incredibly self-deprecating. That 'don't take yourself too seriously' mentality is probably fuelled by our society's intolerance for what it feels is unnecessary bragging or boasting. What it could be is a response to tall poppy syndrome that is so popular in our country that it might be considered a national past time, as treasured as listening to the Hottest 100 on Australia Day.
Tall poppy syndrome is described as 'a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticised because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers'.
So it is ingrained in us from an early age that it's okay to achieve, just don't speak too proudly about it. The problem is that our words help shape our thoughts and, in turn, our thoughts help create our reality.
Most people who know me would probably describe me an as optimist of the most painful variety, but I wasn't always this way. For the vast majority of my life I could have been considered a cynic and a contrarian. It was my reflex action to look for what could go wrong rather than embracing the possibility that something amazing might occur. Upon reflection I would say that this was probably the result of having my trust broken by a number of key people in my formative years. As a defence mechanism, I came to expect the worst from every situation. If you have already played out the worst case scenario, you can really only be pleasantly surprised by the result.
The problem with that life philosophy is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. On the flip-side it has been claimed by an emotional intelligence expert that, in relation to chasing down your goals, embracing the power of belief allows us to use more metacognitive functions than folks who don't share that same sunny disposition. In layman's terms, belief in ourselves and our goals gives us a larger and more versatile noggin to help problem solve and adapt as required.
That is, that the belief in a positive outcome helped to facilitate that outcome and, in turn, belief that a negative outcome was impending basically condemns the goal to failure.
But rather than throwing a heap of research at you to try and prove my point, I’d like to share some of my own experiences – so back to the personal anecdote. My cynicism had led to people in my social circle referring to me as a grumpy, old man. In my mid-20's, I was hardly a candidate for an aged care facility but this became the lens through which I began to view myself. By age 25 I was ready to write myself off as a completed, albeit failed, project. I had reached my pinnacle and it was all downhill from there.
My change wasn't an overnight one and I didn't really have what you would describe as an 'aha' moment. It was a combination of listening to hours of podcasts, reading, and spending many lonely, quiet hours in a warehouse stacking and packing boxes. Hearing voices far more experienced than my own, challenging my beliefs made me re-examine the way I saw my life. I spent time seeking more wisdom by reading the words of scholars, teachers and guides from times gone by. And trying to see the world through the eyes of my beautiful baby boy, who had given me a fresh perspective on many things that I had learnt to take for granted over the past 25 years.
But to bring it all into focus, any time that I strayed from my newfound path, I was reminded of a line from a movie that I had seen many years before. It finally resonated with me in a way that I could no longer ignore.
'When has anything you've ever done made your life better?'
My cynicism. My sarcasm. My hardened attitude. My ability to anticipate disappointment and deal with it before it ever actually arrived. A brash attitude, unshakable confidence and a stubborn demeanour. A negative attitude that led me down a negative path. Always sure, but never happy. The time had come to make my life better rather than safer and it was this simple phrase that kept my focus on what it was that I was trying to achieve.
I stopped talking about myself in negative terms which eventually led to me no longer thinking of myself in negative terms. Because of the way I trained and participated in wrestling I had often thought about myself as past my prime and worn out. A change in mindset was required and it forced me to change the way that I thought, spoke and took care of myself. I no longer thought of my body as broken, but rather as beaten up. It wasn't down for the count, it simply required me to take better care of it. When I thought of myself as being on the downside of my life I accepted a broken body as part of the deal.
I stopped referring to myself as old, even in a joking way, and I didn't allow others to speak of me that way either. Once I started to think of my life as only just beginning, I realised that I needed to train smarter, eat better and take preventative measures to stop my mind from being allowed to make a train wreck out of my vehicle.
I embraced love, positivity and gratitude. I started trying to look for the beauty in the simple things in life and I spoke openly about them and the way they affected me. I'm quite content losing myself in the breeze. I love watching the sun rise and fall. The sound of laughter fills me with joy. You don't have to tell me that sounds like hippy shit, I realise that as I hit the keys on my laptop. Quite simply, I don't care. And when I stopped caring about what people thought and started paying attention to what made my life better, everything started to look a little brighter.
So please do me one favour. Stop talking yourself into a life that lacks fulfilment. Your words and actions are the soundtrack and narrative to your life. If you want a happy ending, start writing a better script for yourself. You deserve better and the people you love deserve the best you that you can offer.
- By Dave Farlie
P.S Do you know someone who could really benefit from reading this? To give them the motivation and push they need to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of the young people around them? Share this post with them. Even if they don't embrace it straight away, you've done your part. Thank you.
About the author:
Dave is a loving husband, father, friend to many, and inspiration to even more. He has paved the way in Australian pro wrestling, and has inspired countless people to follow their dreams, no matter how 'crazy' they may seem. Dave is authentic, honest, real, and truly leads by example.
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