It’s rare a Youtube video leaves me in tears.
A week ago that happened. A channel for self-improvement junkies posted a video called “The Brain Hack That Changed My Life.”
The clickbait made my brain ooze self-improvement juices out my nostrils.
I watched the video about a young blogger named Leon Hendrix and his mate. They attended a facility often only billionaires go to, to have their brains hooked up to machines and be reprogrammed. You’re supposed to finish the treatment with higher IQ and a huge boost in creativity.
By the end of their treatment something odd happens.
Leon and his friend change their brains but not how they expect. They learn about the research that says when you forgive either yourself or others, it unblocks the mind and changes your brain waves.
The two boys went there for cheap thrills. They left as mature men who learned the hard way that they had to forgive friends, family, and most of all, themselves.
The breakthroughs in their Youtube video were hard to watch.
They were broken down like prisoners of war. The brain training was like being waterboarded by military personnel for information on terrorists.
I felt so emotional after the video it made me think: sharing vulnerable moments and forgiving yourself and others is a powerful exercise.
This article isn’t a vulnerability flex.
It’s designed to help you learn and grow. Here are three vulnerable moments I’d like to share that is tremendously difficult.
1. My odd obsession for real estate explained
I have a strange obsession for real estate.
I don’t love it, no, I hate it. Unlike most normal people I want to buy a house but not borrow much money. On the outside this makes me look like a good little financially savvy money blogger.
There’s a darker truth.
In 1999 when I was a teenager my family lost our childhood home. The bank forced us to sell. It didn’t seem like it made much of a difference. Life moved along. We went back to renting a home.
It wasn’t much of a house. But it was a roof over our heads.
Because money was tight we had to move further away from my high school friends. They didn’t understand. Their parents always complained how far they had to drive to drop me home after a movie or a meal out.
I didn’t blame my parents but I was mad as hell deep down.
I let the rage out on the internet. I used nicknames online to blast everyone I met and try to be funny. The humor was to mask the pain.
For years I’ve let this truth hide inside of me. But as I’ve analyzed it more, I realized the pain of losing my home at such a young age still drives everything I do…
The way I run a business.
The way take care of my daughter.
The amount of money I spend.
One bizarre thing I did is spend an ungodly amount of money on asset protection to ensure that if I ever do own a home, no crazy moron can take it away from me with some fake lawsuit.
What happens in our childhood never escapes us. It shapes our lives in both positive and negative ways. I’ve learned to appreciate it.
2. The untold source of my mental illness
I’ve shared my story of mental illness before. Nothing new.
What I didn’t realize, though, is exactly where it came from. We have to go way back to understand.
In 1992 I was a tiny kid at a big school. My parents spent all their savings to send me to what they thought was a great school, instead of buying a fancy house.
One afternoon I was at choir practice. I wore a red choir gown, white fabric neckpiece, and shiny black school shoes. Underneath I had on a singlet, long-sleeve shirt, necktie, and thick woolen jumper.
Outside it was 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
The walls of the concert hall were melting. I got on stage to rehearse Christmas carols for the upcoming school concert.
About three songs in, I blacked out.
I woke up at the back of the stage with blood everywhere. The nurse told me I had fainted in front of the school. They didn’t know why (probably heat).
From that day on I was treated by teachers as if I was disabled. Everywhere I went they said “Are you okay Tim?”
Kids teased me. They’d reenacted the crash as if I was one of the New York twin towers that went down on September 11th. It started with me being nervous around choir events. Then I got nervous around blood and needles.
The bullying got so bad I had to change schools. The story I still tell people to this day is that I quit my private school education to rebel against the elites and save my parent’s money.
That’s only partially true.
The real reason was because of that fateful day. What I didn’t realize is that event caused my mind not to trust my body anymore — the seeds of mental illness. My mind would always say “are you going to stuff this up too?”
“Can you handle this event ya big baby?”
Later in this life this lack of distrust in my mind manifested into an eating disorder. I began having issues eating in public.
I became obsessed with the idea I couldn’t vomit in front of others and trigger the same response that happened after the fainting.
It got worse and worse.
By the time I was an adult I was a mess. I’d skip work functions and Christmas parties. Around the festive time of year I’d become one angry man. No one knew why. I’m not sure I even knew why.
Not being able to eat properly made life hard. Eating is the foundation of society — particularly if you hope to go on romantic dates.
I always struggled with women because I couldn’t easily go to a restaurant with them. If I managed to make it to the table and order a steak, once the meal arrived, I’d look like a deer in headlights.
Not exactly boyfriend material.
So I picked weak partners. I picked ones that were more broken than me. That made me more broken. Thankfully, now I’m healed and can eat wherever and whenever I want.
3. The body image problem from hell
Obesity has become a huge problem.
I can relate. Not because I’m fat but because I dealt with borderline anorexia. To explain just how bad it got, you could see my rib bones if I took my top off. That was my normal.
I now know the anorexia was tied to the eating disorder that was tied to the mental illness. But for a child to figure that all out … it’s almost impossible.
A regular occurrence in Australia is to walk around with your top off. It gets so hot here that clothes become dangerous.
Not only did I have the skinniest body you’ve ever seen but I had three, large, hairy moles on my back and stomach.
I was petrified of a single person finding out my dark secret. So, I never took my top off. I avoided the pool, beach, and any event that required a costume change.
Later, as an adult, I faced my biggest fear: surgery.
This wasn’t like any normal surgery. I had to have a skin specialist remove the mole. They cut the mole off with a knife while I was awake.
For a person who’s afraid of needles, hospitals, and blood — it took everything I’ve got to endure the surgery. Bizarrely, after I had the first mole removed, I never went back to get the other two done. I accepted my ugly birthmarks and got on with life. But…
A lifetime of body image issues isn’t great for your self-esteem.
Later in adult life I healed from this problem too. However, I never underestimate how hard it is for the average person to wake up every day and get told to “be beautiful” in a million different subtle ways by marketers and influencers.
To alter your brain waves the way Leon did you need to forgive.
In these moments I’ve realized I don’t need to forgive others. No. I need to forgive myself. I did the best I could.
Many of us need to forgive ourselves for past traumas. Once we do it sets us free to be anything we want to be.