You are the puppet, your mindset is your master

It all started one early morning in June. We were up at the crack of dawn, getting ready to go see one of the greatest rock bands of all time. Full of energy and excitement, we headed off to Dublin to see Metallica.   Like any good summer’s day in Ireland, the sun shone and the rain poured, and we drank beer after beer until we couldn’t stand (literally). For those of you who don’t know, that was the night that my boyfriend ruptured his patella tendon, through no fault of his own. *cough cough moshpit* We thought his knee was just dislocated at the time and thanks to a lot of beer and a bandage from the paramedics, he was able to party on through the night.

Little did I know, I’d be the one holding his leg up

I remember sitting in the waiting room of the hospital 2 days later after he found out what had happened. He was told he would have to get surgery and that his leg would take 6 months to fully recover. Now for a lot of people, 6 months on the sofa would be music to the ears (myself included), but when you’re a self-employed gym owner/personal trainer/bodybuilder and you go from being able to leg press 500kg one week, to being told you won’t be able to walk properly for 6 months; it’s a pretty big deal.

Now this isn’t really a post about Dean’s knee (sorry Dean), or Metallica, sadly. It’s about how the situation Dean found himself in this year taught us both a lot about what your mindset can do and how you can use it to turn your life around.

“Mindset can dictate how you view yourself and the world around you. But it can also create self-imposed limitations within your own belief system.”

I don’t know who needs to read this but I hope it helps someone.

Problem (noun) – a matter or situation regarded as unwelcome or harmful and needing to be dealt with or overcome.

A problem is a problem, no matter how big or small it may seem to others. If it’s an unwelcome situation in your life, it’s a problem. I don’t believe that you do not have a right to complain, just because someone else has bigger problems than you. There is always going to be someone worse off than you but problems are all relative to each individual.

We can’t really choose our problems. What we can choose though, is how we deal with them. A problem can be made so much worse if you choose to make it that way. As humans, we love to complain and we tend to focus on the negatives, but just watch how your life improves when you change your mindset.

Two people can be in the exact same situation but come out very different on the other side. 

One person may choose to wallow in their own self-pity and lead themselves down a dark path, looking for the light at the end of the tunnel and feeling like they are never going to reach it because the journey is too hard. They can make a bad situation worse by blaming the universe for their problems and not taking any responsibility for what has happened.

The other person can choose to look at it as a challenge and say “challenge accepted”. This person will make the best of a bad situation by realising that the only person that can help you, is you. They will realise that, when faced with harsh circumstances, the only way to go is up.

After being told bad news of any description, your immediate reaction is going to be negative. “How am I going to work?”, “I can’t believe I won’t be able to train for 6 months.”

My immediate response was, “at least it’s only 6 months out of your whole life.”

And yes, Dean did have a right to complain but he also knew that complaining about it was not going to make the problem go away.

He knew he had a long road ahead of him, but rather than looking at it as a road, he saw it as a journey. At the start, this journey didn’t seem to have a destination, even though he knew where he wanted to go. He didn’t have maps to guide him, nor were there signs telling him when to slow down or when to keep pushing ahead.

So he decided to create his own. He could tell you better than me, but the most important thing when your faced with, what seems like a never ending journey is to set milestones and goals. Just like a long road trip, you need to stop at the side of the road every so often and take a minute to enjoy the view.

For anyone that doesn’t know what I mean by setting goals and milestones, here’s what Dean’s looked like:

1. Be able to lift leg off sofa without help from mother/sister/girlfriend

2. Be able to walk without crutches (I still think a cane would’ve been badass)

3. Be able to go up the stairs (even if it is very slowly and you look like a penguin)

4. Be able to walk without big ugly splint

5. Get operation to remove wire from knee and attempt to look like a normal human when you walk

6. Be able to contract quad and build muscle to get rid of chicken leg

7. Be able to bend leg to 130 degrees again

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Dean didn’t try to get from step 1 – 7 in a hurry. He focused on getting to the next step on the list so he could hit each milestone before moving on to the next. You are allowed to celebrate each milestone. Enjoy them, because as small as they may seem, they are getting you one step closer to your end goal.

I remember when Dean had reached Step 1. He texted me saying “GUESS WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!”

Now, at any other point, no one in their right minds would’ve got excited about lifting their leg an inch off the sofa, but for us (especially Dean) this was the most exciting part our week. We could already smell the coffee dates and nights out we were going to have once his leg got better.

This is what I mean about switching your mindset and enjoying each small step. Instead of saying “I can’t believe I can only lift my leg an inch” he said “I can do something today that I couldn’t do yesterday, that’s progress.”

Now, try applying these steps to your own ‘unwelcome situation’ and watch how your problem goes from A BIG ONE, to a more manageable one.

There is a lot more I could say on the subject, but I think you get the point. Dean has taught me a lot in the short time that I’ve known him, and his positivity and determination is something to be admired.

His injury threw a spanner in the works, to say the least. He could’ve easily let it take over his life, ruin his relationships with family and friends and destroy his business but instead he just had to teach his brain to focus on different goals than the ones he had originally planned for, and take one small step at a time.

Just so you know, Dean was told 6 months healing time, but last night we were rocking out at another concert after just 4.5 months so it is safe to say he is very close to the end of his journey.


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