Here is a status post I put on Facebook a few days ago. I received several messages about it following the post so I thought I would make it a blog entry and write a little more about the topic as well:
I'm good at masking my pain. I'm not a complainer, and I don't think that FB is a diary... At least not for me. I do think that by sharing some of my experiences that some people may benefit. I've been feeling kind of "blah" lately. I just realized that I'm a couple of weeks away from the 20 year anniversary of the evening I was shot right outside of my home in Chicago. I'm happy to be alive to talk about it, but I battled with post traumatic stress disorder. With all the books I've read, and my positive outlook on life, I often ignored my feelings and just pretended that life was grand. Here is the reality I've come to understand though: Life is like a GPS device. You have to know exactly where you are in order to map out the route to your desired destination. It is okay to acknowledge your feelings, but it is not ok to wallow in them if they are less than desirable. I saw that I was in mental quicksand. The key was not to acknowledge it, and then look for the vines nearby to pull myself out. It may take all the strength that you have, but you can pull yourself out too! Here's a vine for you. I hope it helped.
Right after I posted this, the "likes" and comments came in. What moved me the most were the private messages and texts that people sent me. I've come to realize that my life is not my own. My experiences are examples of what to do, and in some cases, what not to do. I think that one of the major problems that people face in life is that they compare themselves to others. They do in when they try to measure success. They do it when they look at how their family functions. They do it in almost every area of life. An area that is often neglected is measuring how many challenges a person can overcome, or how huge of a problem a person can handle. I was once told that the size of the leader is determined by the size of the problem he or she can solve.
Personally, I have a tendency not so share what I'm going through publicly until it is over and I can teach a lesson from it. Unfortunately we live in a society where people like to see other people suffer. When a shark senses blood in the water, it preys on the bleeding victim. My recommendation is that you have a select group of people that you can talk to in strict confidence about what you're going through. I never discuss issues with negative people. I want people in my life that will help me focus on my solutions and not my problems. All successful people still have problems. We still overcome various obstacles. The key is to face them boldly. Does it suck at times? Definitely! Will you get tired? Absolutely! Will there be pain and tears in some cases? Without question! Can you handle it? Beyond a shadow of a doubt!
As odd as it may sound, I'm grateful for living through the experience of getting shot. Napoleon Hill says "Every adversity carries with it a seed of equevilent or greater benefit." I know that to be true. That experience helped shape my character. It altered some decisions I had to make. Ultimately, it lead to me writing a book that hit best seller rankings on amazon.com as well. There would be no 31 Amazing Life Leasons of Joshua Stokes, no poetry CDs, no speaking engagements, and a ton of other things in my life that came about from that one life altering (life threatening) event. Psychologically it was tough to deal with. Tough doesn't equal impossible though. Jim Rohn told me not to wish for less problems, but to pray for more skills to be able to handle them. Big or small, ever challenge you face is a stepping stone toward your ultimate success. Go... Fight...WIN!