Loving Being Lost – A journey towards mindfulness
Note from Kathy: Today I have a guest post from Joe Dorr, a former elite athlete with a background in psychology and an interest in healthy mindsets and mindfulness. Joe’s writing style is on point and earnest. I think we can all relate to his wise words, especially during these pandemic times.
We used to like horror movies and post-apocalyptic thrillers because they offered us an exciting
escape. Living in one (pandemic)? Not quite as much fun.
We’re all lost and afraid. It’s scary. Life is uncertain. But if you’re reading this, then you have the most priceless thing going for you.
Nobody wants to accept and embrace being lost—We fight failure harder than we fought cooties
back in the ’90s…
Newsflash, we were lost then too.
Collectively, we’ve actually all been lost for a long time, it’s just maybe now more painfully
obvious than ever before. The pandemic has been the equivalent of putting a microscope directly between our bare skin and the sun. Sure we might have been getting cancer before the microscope was there, but at least the burn wasn’t so bad.
All of our problems are magnified now.
Popping on our mask is like a taser jolting us into the pain of the present moment. A pain that
we all used to avoid so well.
Basically, the pandemic is forcing people to deal with their shit. And we’re not used to it.
And when you can no longer rely on the escapes of the world anymore, you’re forced to find
peace in a totally foreign place.
SELF AWARENESS WAKE-UP CALL
While getting punched in the face with flu-like symptoms, what’s gone largely unnoticed is that
we’ve also been given a gift basket of self-awareness. It turns out that it’s really hard to avoid
yourself and reality while you’re living through a pandemic.
The pandemic has been brutal, and it’s caused a ton of pain, but don’t just villainize every single
part of it. Please, don’t waste this pandemic. Wake up and take something from it.
Just a few weeks ago, I came to a neat ‘little’ realization that I will likely always be lost, in some
way or another. And I was oddly okay with it. No joke. Excited even.
Being lost doesn’t mean that you’re broken. It means that you’re human.
Unfortunately, we’re so dialed into what other people think of us that we cripple ourselves in the
When our focus is on making everybody else happy and not ourselves—Life kind of sucks.
It’s just one giant negative feedback loop of suck. Around and around in circles, we go, staying
stuck, lost, sad, anxious, and never actually getting anywhere that’s worth anything to us.
Not only is it a recipe for high-performance disaster, it’s just straight up unhealthy.
SURVIVAL MODE MALFUNCTION
Life used to be like an action-adventure movie.
The plot was simple. Eat, and don’t get eaten.
Survival was all the purpose that we could handle.
Our brain had great reason to sleep with one eye open because if it didn’t, if it had even one slip
up, then that could have been the end of us.
Think about the last time you went a little bit too long without eating. At some point, you might
have even told someone (in your best cranky valley girl voice), “I’m literally starving right now…”
You weren’t starving, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t feel like you were.
That was survival mode.
Your salivary glands kicked into gear, and your taste buds actually started tasting the same food
that you were dreaming about. Nothing was going to stop you from eating.
Survival mode is why we’re alive today, but in our current world, without very many legitimate
threats to our survival, our survival mode mechanism tends to get jumpy and activate from a ton
of false-alarms. Sometimes survival mode kicks ass, and other times it kicks our ass.
When we’re really struggling in life, it usually means that we’re stuck somewhere on the middle
to lower end of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs pyramid. We just can’t figure out how to
self-actualize and live a life that we’re really proud of.
The beauty of learning how you’re wired is that by doing so, you also learn how to fix that wiring
when it’s gone faulty.
Luckily, the vast majority of our minds aren’t broken. They’re just extremely over-sensitized. Fear
and negative self-talk consume us to the point where we have a better shot at diabetes than we
do at climbing that pyramid.
Getting to the gym 3 times this week while you spent the last 7 days trashing your self-esteem?
Good luck with that.
Have some compassion people!
Our entire relationship with failure is dysfunctional and backwards, which leads us to absolutely
crucify people subconsciously anytime we see some signs of struggle. When someone talks about not knowing who they are and what they want to do, whether we realize it or not, we tend to immediately downgrade them in our mind as a person.
Worse than that, though, we’re the first ones to downgrade ourselves when we feel lost.
Is it so crazy to think that someone who is lost but actively considering how they can
course-correct might actually be less lost than someone who absolutely hates their life but is
successful based on society’s standards?
D.L. Moody said, “Our greatest fear should not be failure, but of succeeding at something that
doesn’t really matter.”
Now that’s a mindset shift worth indoctrinating.
PLAY YOUR GAME
So many of us are playing really really hard, but what good does it do us when we’re playing the
wrong game? Or if we’re racing to some made up finish line that society has set for us?
There’s no purpose or meaning in that kind of life.
We’re stuck in survival mode, and we don’t even know it.
But now that you’ve read this, you’ve briefly freed your brain from survival mode for a moment.
This is your chance to hold onto a new perspective.
When you stop caring so much about being lost and finally decide to embrace being lost, all of a
sudden, you will no longer be the one standing in the way of your own potential.
(Authors Note: Without accepting being lost, my dreams would just stay dreams.)
7 Bonus Tips to Break Out of Survival Mode Prison
1. BE PATIENT – JUST RELAX
So many of us are in such a hurry to grow up and do something with our lives. Myself included.
But life is a process of exploring, creating, testing, and tweaking. There’s way less rush than you
think there is. And if it is short, wouldn’t you be wise to try and enjoy it a bit more?
Identities take time, and stronger identities usually require the destruction of a previous identity.
But this stuff makes us stronger and more equipped—sort of like how a broken bone grows
back stronger than the original bone.
2. FIX YOUR BLIND SPOTS
Get a trainer. Get a coach. Get a mentor. Get some decent friends…
We all have blind spots that people can help us out with if we let them.
Let go of the ego.
There’s a huge problem with being totally self-reliant, and it’s that we’re very biased about our
own lives. We’re so close to the situation that we can’t quite get enough perspective to see
things clearly. This can lead us to completely miss things that other people might see as obvious.
Surround yourself with good people.
3. PRIORITIZE HARD WORK
Our ancestors would be ashamed of us. They really would be because we’ve forgotten what
actual hard work is.
First things first, they would have no clue how to make sense of this world. What we call
optimization they would call laziness. And I’m not so sure they would be wrong.
Plus, nowadays, it’s actually hard to work hard, even if you want to!
Career takes up so much of our time, and in the U.S., sedentary jobs have increased 83% from
We’re down to only 20% of our jobs being physically active ones.
4. STOP STUFFING YOUR FACE WITH SOCIAL MEDIA B.S.
Hey, I’m guilty of it too. It’s a tough battle.
Social media has cornered the market on our media intake. And the majority of it is bullshit.
Social media is littered with counterfeits, imitators, phonies, and fake people, which would be
fine, but on top of all that, we take things another step and actually choose to follow them.
For many people on the journey towards self-actualization, your best bet is just going to be to try
and quiet the noise. Amazingly, when we stop worshipping other people so much, we can finally start focusing that energy inwards. Self-awareness is impossible while we’re stuck comparing ourselves to other
5. COMFORT ZONES ARE SILENT KILLERS
We will die a slow, painful death when we stay cooped up in our cozy little comfort zones.
Life is really freaking short. And the moment that you start living life based on that reality is the
same moment that the areas outside of your comfort zones will stop being so scary to you.
Before you know it, you’re doing things that deep down you’ve always wanted to do but never
had the courage or the clarity for.
6. SMELL THE FLOWERS – MINDFULNESS
It’s never a bad idea to take some time and get grounded back in the moment.
Usually, when our brain runs wild, it’s because our brain has totally hijacked the present
moment and refuses to give it back.
In the present moment, our energy frequency is supercharged. Away from the present moment,
we’re drained from constantly trying to change the past, or worrying about the uncertainty of a
future that hasn’t happened yet.
7. EXPLORE & THEN REFLECT
When we’re lost, it’s easy to feel like we can’t do anything until we are less lost. But believe it or
not, living is a completely necessary part of being alive!
Go out there and create experiences. Then digest them and figure out what they mean to you.
Then go out there and do it all again.
With his sports career cut short, Joseph Dorr (sole author of athletamindset.com) leans on his creative, humorous, and scientific writing style to help uncover a recipe for high performance. He’s like a sport, fitness, business, and life detective. Exploring and dissecting the mystery of human potential. While helping people tap into their own potential, one article at a time.