How to Achieve Greatness (Dealing with Depression)

Do you ever feel like a plastic bag drifting through the wind, wanting to start again? And do you ever feel so paper-thin, like a house of cards, one blow from caving in? How about feeling buried deep, six feet under screams, but no one seems to hear a thing?

Yeah, I’m starting this article on achieving greatness with Katy Perry lyrics because fuck it, if it’s good enough for the leader of the North Korea, it’s good enough for me.

Before writing a single word you’re reading right now, I’ve sat down behind my computer, opened up a new page and….stared at it. I knew what I wanted to write about, but the words just weren’t there. No worries, I thought, I’ll just try again tomorrow. And I did, yielding the same result. Day after day, I would be staring at the blue light emitting from the screen of my computer monitor, focused on the blinking indicator waiting for me to press a key. Any key!

But it was hopeless. Why? Because I felt like shit. I didn’t feel like writing, because I didn’t feel like doing anything. I wasn’t motivated. I wasn’t happy. I was just laying down in my chair, feeling like shit. For no fucking reason.

Nothing had instigated this feeling of despair. I do what I love, am in a good place financially and socially, and I know that I am more motivated, hard-working, smart, and skillful than most people I’ve met throughout life.

Yet for some inexplicable reason (or, to be more correct, for numerous bullshit little reasons that made sense only to me) I felt like a beaten down old horse ready to be put down.

I knew it was bullshit. I knew I had so many great things going on. I knew that me feeling like this was a waste of my time and energy and that, for someone preaching development of a mind of steel, I was not allowed to feel like this. Ever.

But I did.

MIND OF SPAGHETTI

I’ve recently gotten an interesting email from a reader, who said he enjoyed the type of content I put out, but believed I was too strict in the way I deal with shortcomings.

I think we need to accept that every once in a while we will have that moment of failure, and if we are too strict on ourselves at such a moment, we often have the emotional tendency to run away instead of accepting it did not go well and trying again. Sometimes when I read your articles, I feel the line you are taking is being very stringent with yourself.

This message got me thinking. Really thinking.

To a certain extent, he was right; my writing is harsh and forces people to look in the mirror and call themselves out on their own bullshit. I preach a lifestyle of dedication, hard work, and no excuses.

But this by no means implies that any person can be 100% focused 100% of the time. It’s impossible. And while the emphasis of my articles is on the perspective of strength, I’m no stranger to sadness, procrastination, feelings of insecurity, loss of self-worth, even borderline depression. Hey, you name it, and I’ve probably went through it at one point in my life.

Young man with a hoodie sitting on the curb sad and depressed
It happens even to the best of us.

While these feelings are very common and strike the majority of world’s population, I don’t focus on them much because the person I want to be wouldn’t focus on them too much; spending time focusing on these feelings gives them strength and prevents us from moving on.

I don’t pretend like I’m a prime example of a perfect Mind Of Steel. Far from it; at times, my mind resembles less an alloy of iron and more a bowl of warm spaghetti.

But the reader above brings up a great point; if I don’t talk about those feelings, I’m portraying a seemingly indestructible persona which no one in real life can come close to; and that can be very discouraging.

Still, while my reader brings up a valid point, he overlooked the fact that…I actually do talk about my shortcomings. All the time. I’ve written about dealing with procrastination, managing emotions, even how I allowed my mindset to completely shatter.

Almost every article on this site follows a structure of “Here’s a problem I used to have, here’s how to solve it”.

However, I don’t talk about the issues I have unless I can provide a solution. Simply yapping about how I feel is a waste of my time and energy that could be spent actually doing something useful.

Hey, look at this! I’m writing! How did this happen?

JUST SHUT UP AND ACHIEVE GREATNESS

The story from the beginning is true; I’ve spent days trying to type any combination of words that make sense, but couldn’t because I kept feeling like shit. It wasn’t writer’s block; I was trying to write an article from a position of strength when, in reality, I was feeling pretty weak.

I knew it was useless to fret about it, punish myself or force myself to act how I don’t feel. What’s good the mind of steel when all I want to do is sit down and listen to some music reflecting my current state of mind?

Solution to overcoming this was very simple, though it did not feel like it at the time – just do what you need to do.

Yeah, it’s exactly how it sounds. Allow yourself to feel like shit. Don’t try to fight it or figure out why you feel like you feel. You just do.

There’s no logic behind feelings. Logical thinking follows a certain pattern. Emotional reasoning simply happens. Research has shown countless times that the more we try to minimize or ignore certain thoughts or emotions, the more severe they will get.

Logically, you know you shouldn’t give a fuck about that girl who rejected you. Or that guy who didn’t call you back. Or the fact that your boss yelled at you, because he yells at everyone. Or any of the little bullshits on your mind every day that are, logically, completely irrelevant to your life in general.

Little cute pug wrapped in a blanket
Logically, this photo is awesome.

But every now and then they still get to you. You still feel like shit. So be it. Feel like it. But don’t let it stop you from achieving greatness.

Doing what you need to when you feel like it is easy because you feel like doing it. What about when it’s the last thing you want to do?

Achieving greatness has nothing to do with how you feel at any given moment. The world is indifferent to your feelings. You can talk about them, complain about them, write about them, sing about them, express them in any way or form, but in the end…they are a part of you. They don’t matter to the rest of us.

What matters is what you do despite feeling the way you do. How do you act in the real world? How does your presence affect me?

Harvard Business Review article talked about the idea of emotional agility, a method to help battle bullshit thoughts and emotions holding you back. It outlines four steps to help you achieve it:

  1. Recognize patterns – call yourself out on your bullshit.
  2. Label your thoughts/emotions – realize that the way things seem are not facts, but a certain perspective.
  3. Accept them – say fuck it.
  4. Act on your values – do what you need to do.

As you can see, it’s basically the same thing I said, only with a lot less pizzazz.

If you’re stuck feeling like shit and can’t seem to be able to get out of the loop, don’t worry about not doing what you need to do – use these emotions to do what you need to do.

Many of the greatest books, poems, songs, movies, and art pieces in human history came from an ugly place. Every other song is about heartbreak. Many of the greatest writers (even fictional ones) put words to paper from a position of weakness, pain, and self-loathing.

I invite you to work through pain. Take in all the negative emotions and judgement-clouding thoughts. Don’t try to get rid of them because we both know that won’t work. Use them. Use them to become stronger, more creative, more dedicated and success-hungry than ever.

There will always be times where you will slip up and fuck up. It happens to everybody, including me, and when it does, you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it. But you should accept it – I fucked up. Face the man in the mirror and admit defeat. Then dust yourself off and try again.

I am being very stringent with myself because if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be getting back up. I would be laying on the floor making justifications about giving my best and be satisfied with it.

Uh-uh. No fucking way. When I fall off and realize it, I do feel bad. I know it’s normal and okay from time to time, but I still hate myself for it. And it’s those feelings that force me to get back up as fast as possible. Because I cannot get back lost time or reverse the flow of the sands of time. But it does mean that I need to work at 200% capacity to make up for what I lost, and every second I don’t just means the number is getting higher.

Do what you need to do regardless of how you feel. That’s how you achieve greatness.

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Hey, I'm Phil Janecic.

I’m a guy who’s been in your shoes and knows exactly what you’re going through. I started Mind of Steel in 2014 to help people change their lives by building mental strength.

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