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Injured and Abroad in Vietnam

Injured and Abroad in Vietnam

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Hidden Valley, Cat Ba, Vietnam

Ever since I can remember, there are two qualities that stand out a lot when I think of myself.

Ever since I can remember, there are two qualities that stand out a lot when I think of myself.

These two qualities are not ones I am especially proud – anxiousness and perfectionism.

Ever since I started traveling about 10 weeks ago, I never realized how distracted I was from just being present in my “old” life.

Sure, I would meditate for 10-20 minutes in the morning but what about the other 1,430 minutes in the day?

Much of it was filled with work and other obligations and activities. Feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, fears, and doubts could fairly easily be drowned out by the noise of daily life.

It is different when you are traveling long-term.

There are many times of boredom and nothingness. Questions begin to arise about whether it is ok to just relax and do nothing or am I just “wasting” my time?

Being still in the moment and just “being” is a challenge for someone who has had such a strong experience with anxiousness and perfectionism. Some moments I look out into the corner of the world that I happened to be experiencing at the moment and possess a deep sense of gratitude. Other times I am filled with stress and anxiety and questions of doubt.

What I am realizing more and more is there is no perfect reality out there. There is no scenario in life that is going to make all of your problems go away. Every scenario and permutation of life has upsides and downsides.

Unfortunately for me, whether it is nature or nurture or a combination of the two, I tend to obsess about the downside or challenges associated with things. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach.

This usually isn’t so bad if it is something within my control.

Where I really run into trouble is when I am dealing with something outside of my control.

Many times I obsess and obsess until it drives me crazy.

For example, I have an old hip injury that has been acting up on me recently. I hurt it about 5 years ago and from time to time it still flares up pretty bad. I have literally tried just about everything I know to get this thing resolved but nothing seems to completely resolve it.

What is funny is that I help so many people resolve their health issues, but the hardest patient I have ever had is myself.

This issue acted up on me again right before our last big rock climbing trip to SE Asia. My mind started racing like it usually does. What if this thing keeps me from climbing? What if this never really goes away? How am I going to be able to climb hard and do all of the adventures and sports that I love to do? What is going to happen if this gets worse and I have to give up on so much of what I love?

 Once I am able to see past the immediacy of the emotional trauma that I am feeling and somewhat self-inflicting through the questions I am asking myself, I do what I do best.

Take massive action.

 I take massive action in regards to my physical health by reaching out to practitioners and experts in my life that could help me. I spend hours doing myofascial work, stretching, mobility, and muscle activation work.

I then work on my emotional wellbeing through meditation, writing, and asking myself better questions.

This is the most challenging part for me.

The technique that I find helps me most is this: What if what I fear most happens? What if I am limited in physical sports and adventure for the rest of my life? What would I do and how would I still find happiness and fulfillment?

I love these series of questions because if you can still find fulfillment and purpose even in the worst case scenario, then what you fear most loses its power over you.

Then I can get back to doing the real work. And the real work is taking massive action on everything that is within my control and working on the emotional aspect of accepting, and maybe even embracing, the things that are outside of my control.

I am still learning to let go more and more and lean into discomfort.

What I believe is that happiness should not be the goal. It is too dependent on our emotions in the moment.

And let’s be real. If you are really trying to experience a truly extraordinary life, it takes a lot of struggle. But the key is to struggle through the things that are worth struggling through and are most important to you.

The goal should be fulfillment, growth, and contribution. It should be finding peace and presence and curiosity in the moment. Sometimes those moments feel like crap and other times they feel great.

Either way, lean into it.

- Matt Westheimer