My Biggest Take-Away of 2018

It’s the end of the year, and while everyone gears up for a new year, I have taken a few minutes to reflect upon what has happened in my own life in 2018.  The biggest thing I’ve learned from the year that has just gone by is to FOLLOW MY HEART.  Before I dive into my journey, I’ll share with you my personal opinion of what I mean by that.    

Following your heart means working hard because you love what you do, not just for the paycheck.  Following your heart means being with someone because you’re happy to be with that person, not because divorce is too expensive.  Following your heart means learning how to love your body, instead of hating it.  Following your heart means learning from your mistakes, rather than berating yourself for making them; forgiving yourself rather than holding yourself a prisoner of your own limitations; accepting yourself unconditionally for who you are, flaws and all.  

Our heart is the most valuable tool we possess that can lead us not only to our life’s purpose but also to our lifelong partner, our ideal career, dream house, or successful lifestyle.  Our hearts speak to us through our instincts, our intuitions – what we commonly call our “gut feelings.”  However, as we each go through the emotional, traumatic events of our lives, most of us begin to close our hearts and take refuge in our heads in the subconscious hope of protecting ourselves from being hurt.  Often, in order to cope with life and move forward, we begin to rationalize not only our past traumas, but also our current choices – whether they be of partners, careers, or lifestyles.  When that happens, it means that we’re too clogged up to even pay attention to our instincts or listen to our intuitions.  We become stuck in our heads and minds – so often filled with fear, judgment, prejudice, negativity, and doubt.  Just as our bodies have been, our heads and minds have been influenced by our life’s history, family dynamics, and emotional traumas.  While our bodies have stored memory, and resemble our past experiences through the way we look, walk and move, our minds are also being influenced by the memories of what has happened to us emotionally in our formative years.  However, since we don’t have a “mental limp,” or a missing “brain limb,” or visible scars and physical pain, it becomes very hard to acknowledge the damages made by emotional, traumatic events and their consequences to our decision-making abilities.  

The signs of an emotional wound range from self-criticism, negativity, or being easily offended to becoming extremely cynical or overly sarcastic, to over-working, over-training, over-reacting, exhibiting behavior such as OCD, or another disorder.  

Just as we use surgery and physical therapy to help our bodies perform better, to heal from an injury or alleviate pain caused by our hobbies and behavior patterns, we need to help and correct our minds, as well.  However, most people don’t even realize that there’s a problem that needs to be addressed.  Please don’t get me wrong here.  I am not saying that being rational is a bad thing.  Absolutely not.  All I’m saying is that we cannot be all-emotional, or all-rational, as both extremes are equally bad.  We need an equal balance between our “rational” and “emotional” behavior to make good decisions in our lives.  

In the same way that we use crutches to help us walk after an accident, our minds need some sort of “crutch” to help us emotionally recover after life-long traumas.  Therapy, meaningful conversations, vulnerability, and seeking help are some examples of steps one can take to get back into his or her heart.  If we don’t work on our mental recovery, we won’t be able to reconnect to our souls and, thus, follow our hearts.  We will start using only reason and logic, rather than checking in with our instincts or trusting our intuitions; and, therefore, we will make the same bad choices and repeat the same toxic behavior patterns.  Our pasts will follow us into our presents…and, eventually, into our futures.   

When we only use reason and logic to choose our partners, careers, work schedules, and even physical activities, we do so on behalf of our fears and doubts.  These decisions often look like the right choices.  Little do we know that these “right” decisions can lead us further from our truth.  We often marry people or choose careers that look “good on paper,” thinking that they are what we need.  We do so either because that’s what we’ve witnessed growing up, or because we don’t trust ourselves.  Perhaps, we’ve repeatedly been told that who we are and what we feel is wrong.  These patterns will indeed promote either all rational, or all emotional decisions, both endorsed by a dysfunctional background.   

Your heart is pure. What you feel is real.  No matter how much you “rationalize” feeling like shit, or use “reasoning” to justify your unhappiness, things won’t change by themselves. You need to be true to yourself. Therefore, I’m asking you:   

  • Are you happy?
  • Are you truly happy with the work you do?
  • Are you honestly happy with the way you feel and look?
  • Are you one-hundred percent happy with your partner, the one with whom you’re supposed to spend the rest of your life?
  • Are you completely happy with yourself and where you are in your life right now?  

If the answer is “NO” to any of these questions, what the hell are you waiting for?  You have only one LIFE.  All you have is how you feel right now. Don’t wait for something around you to change in order for you to change how you feel.  Don’t wait for your partner to change so that you can feel better.  Don’t wait for your environment to change so you can start feeling different.  Stop waiting and do something about your life if your life isn’t what you have dreamed it could be.  

We all have good days and bad days.  No one should expect sunshine every day.  However, by honestly answering my simple questions, you’ll find out if you are connected to your heart or stuck in your head.  How you truly feel about yourself should tell you whether you have been following your heart or rationalizing your unhappiness as a heroic sacrifice for a noble cause.  

I’ve done all of this, myself.  

I’ve been a martyr – but, not anymore.

I was unhappy for the last couple of years until I started making some hard changes that got me back into my heart.  

With humility, I can say that 2018 was one of the hardest years of my life.  I was in a lot of pain.  The challenges I faced hurt me deeply.  I have accepted all that has happened, and I’m going through the process of healing.  Personally, I believe that happiness – the same as freedom and mental health – is something that is not given, but, rather, is a gift that is earned.  

I’m earning mine… are you earning yours?  

I am looking forward to 2019.  I’m entering the New Year heart first, wiser, happier.  

Happy New Year and God Bless.

Leo Frincu is a world wrestling champion, author, speaker and performance coach for business leaders and athletes worldwide. To learn more about his training philosophy, check out his latest book, “WELCOME HOME, 3 Simple Steps On How To Reach Your Highest Potential,” available on Amazon and iBooks.