This is how I found God …

One day, I sat down and wrote everything I’d learned about God. The list was honest and complete. It started with “God is love” … “God will take me to heaven” … “God hears my prayers” … all of the things  I’d been taught to believe. Once I’d written the superfluous checklist… I got honest and wrote what I felt from all those sermons about God.

  1. God is scary

  2. God is going to send me to hell

  3. God is going to punish me

  4. God expects me to follow a list of rules or pay the consequences

  5. God thinks I’m unworthy

  6. God is making a list, and I’ll have to answer for everything I’ve ever done

  7. God wants complete and total adoration

  8. God expects me to apologize for everything I’ve done every day until I die and then there is going to be a meeting in his office

  9. God expects me to believe every word ever written in the Bible because he inspires it

My interpretation of God sounded more like a terrorist than a loving creator. “Do what I say or I’m going to torture you for all eternity” This was a “damned if I do … damned if I don’t” proposition.

For some reason, I grabbed another piece of paper and made a list of what I needed from a creator or higher power or a God… the following is what I came up with…

  1. I wanted a friend

  2. I wanted something I could lean on in times of troubles

  3. I wanted to feel loved

  4. I wanted a “father-like” figure

  5. I wanted to live without fear

  6. I wanted help in this life

  7. I wanted to feel peace at the time I die

  8. I wanted to know it’s o.k. to be Rob…..

Then it dawned on me… what I learned about God as a kid was someone else’s list. It was no more inspired by God than my list. That list was someone else’s interpretation of God. It isn’t wrong … it isn’t right… it is simply their list. I wouldn’t go to the grocery store with someone else’s shopping list for my house, why was I trying to retrofit my life with someone else’s beliefs? No wonder I couldn’t find God… I was looking for someone else’s.

Good people are so quick to tell me what’s in this portion of the Bible or the Quran or that section of the Torah, and they use the books to justify their beliefs… I think it is wonderful that holy books are written and inspire people to follow a life path. These texts are guides, just like the GPS in your car. Follow the message spoken and you’ll get where you’re going or set out to find your way, and the books will still help when help is needed. That is why they were created… not to harm you … but to guide you. If the GPS says, “Warning accident ahead,” I can interpret that to mean “ I will be destroyed if I don’t flash my lights to warn others of imminent death and run in another direction… or I can proceed with caution. The choice is mine.

I have found the God of my understanding, and he is not expecting me to do anything other than to be the best “Rob” I can be while I’m here. He (because I think God is a guy) wants me to work on me… not MJ or you or the blonde hoochie woman who lives upstairs. I’ve got a full-time job navigating through life without using what time I have left like an Uber driver picking up converts along the way. My God created the world and me, he doesn’t need me to promote him like Mary Kaye Cosmetics or Amway. I don’t need to tell five people… so they can tell five people… so they can tell five people… he doesn’t need my help.

To be honest with you… God is not preparing a mansion for me on a hill, next to a river on a street paved with gold for my next life… he’s also not issuing pink Cadillacs for those who recruited the largest number of people in this life. I don’t want it, and he knows it. What he is doing is helping me here and now and one day when this life is over… he will reunite me with my grandmother and everyone I’ve ever loved… that is my definition of heaven created by the God of my understanding. Believe in whatever brings peace into your life and if you haven’t found it from the God of your childhood…. Grab a piece of paper and start over.

You are smart enough to think for yourself and figure this one out …. Do it now!

This is my journey… this is my life!

Rob Cantrell

When a child sees domestic violence… he is changed forever!

As a child, I spent the summers with my grandparents; their home was a safe and loving place that I dearly loved. My grandfather “took the cure”, which is a southern expression for someone who stopped drinking alcohol and replaced it with religion, so there was never any liquor in their Chattanooga, Tennessee home.

When I was about 7 years old, I remember awakening one night to a woman screaming and beating on the front door. My grandparents opened the door to a woman covered in blood begging for help. She said her husband had beaten her in a drunken rage and “this time” she knew he was going to kill her. I remember the puddling blood dripping from her face onto my grandparents doorway and the terrorized woman. It was the most horrible thing I’d ever seen. Where was all the blood coming from?

I remember my grandmother telling me to get a towel from the bathroom and her handing it to the woman. I don’t remember my grandparents calling the police, but I do remember a policeman arriving and the woman begging for help. I also remember the very drunk man stumbling and swaying in the yard.

What I remember most is the police officer doing nothing to help that woman. He told her to stop provoking her husband to anger and to apologize to him and my grandparents for disturbing them. He also told her to clean the blood off “the nice lady’s” steps and go home. I remember the woman on her knees crying trying to clean her blood off the painted doorway of my grandmother’s home and I remember my grandmother stopping her.

My most vivid memory was the horror on the woman’s face as her drunk husband pulled her back to their house by the arm, as the policeman and my grandparents watched in disgust. I never saw those people again, yet I have never forgotten that night.

Domestic Violence and Battered Wife Syndrome

The number of incidents of domestic violence is staggering. It is estimated that physical violence occurs in about four to six million relationships each year in the U. S. A full quarter of American women will experience abuse in their lifetimes. Worldwide, at least one-third of women have been beaten, raped, or abused, and the perpetrator is often a member of her own family.

Domestic violence affects families from affluent communities and those from poor ones, the educated and non-educated, varying ethnicities, and those who are heterosexual and homosexual. In short, this is a problem that affects families just like yours. The chances are great that you know someone who has been abused by a spouse, partner, boyfriend, or girlfriend, or that you have known this violence.

One of the reasons why domestic violence is so devastating is that it affects the entire family. When there are children involved, they are also victims. Even when they are not physically harmed, they are damaged by the abuse. This is referred to as “secondary domestic violence,” which is extremely detrimental to children’s development. When one parent is being abused, she/he is typically not able to give her/his children the help and support they need. The children, then, are left to handle the emotions and pain on their own. An abusive parent tends to be much less affectionate, available, and supportive than parents in non-abusive households. Also, studies suggest that parents who are abused are more punitive and aggressive towards their children. Not only do children witness abuse, but they have no one to help them.

There are four characteristics of battered women’s syndrome:

  1. The woman believes she is at fault

  2. She is afraid for her life or those of her children

  3. She does not place blame on the abuser

  4. She believes the abuser is both “omnipresent” and “omniscient”

The American Psychological Association classifies battered women’s syndrome as a subgroup of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Women can recover from situations like this and get out of unsafe relationships. It is vitally important for the health and safety of entire families to get out to a safe place and turn to local services for help in recovery. Be assured that you can recover, you can save your children from a similar fate, and you can go on to live a happy and healthy life.

Healing from Abuse

How do you heal from abuse? How do you put your body, heart, and soul back together? First, you need to be out of the situation that has hurt you. It is not possible to heal when you are still being harmed, whether physically, emotionally, or sexually. For instance, if you are in a relationship in which your partner is abusing you, you will not be able to move on if the conditions remain the same. Nor is it possible for children to recover when they regularly see their father beating their mother or their mother berating their father. Leaving a relationship is difficult; perhaps harder, in many ways, than staying. But it is essential to your well-being.

Likewise, if you are an adult survivor of child abuse, you need to be in the right mental space to confront your past. You need to look at what happened and process it in a healthy way. This does not mean, however, that you need to relive any traumatic incidents; the residue of the trauma can be cleared from you with the help of a practitioner without recalling any trauma. Many times, drugs, alcohol, promiscuity, and physical ailments get in the way, and you may need to deal with these immediate problems and get help to get them under control before you confront the deeper issues that caused these problems. Once you are in the right frame of mind, then your journey can begin.

If you are currently in an abusive situation, or if you know someone who is, please get help immediately. Your body’s safety is at stake, and your spirit is in danger. You deserve to live a life free of fear and shame. You deserve a life of truth and healing.

I hope that woman survived. I’ll never know.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

The Real Reason Your Relationship is Falling Apart

6233e49004a06b4ad578cd8842a03dffYears ago, I married someone who speaks nine languages, fluently. I, on the other hand, speak “American,” I’m not exactly stupid… I have two master degrees, a PhD. in abnormal psychology underway, I’m writing my third thesis and a couple of people, other than my parents, feel I might have something to say worth hearing. Regardless of my accomplishments, I was no match for this woman. She’s in the top 1% for intelligence on the planet. In reality, I could not compete, nor could I bring anything to the table she didn’t already know… it was like living with “Google”. As long as the sex was great we were great, but eventually, we grew bored with one another and wasted years we’ll never get back.

In the throes of a hot romance, we eloped to the Bahamas and married at sunset on a sandy beach…. Just the two of us. It could have been perfect, but it wasn’t.  My mother never cared for the woman, because she saw her as an opportunist, and to be truthful, the woman never liked my mom, so there was no love lost.

When I came home and announced what we’d done, my mother looked me in the eyes and said, “this woman will outgrow you!” Those were the most insulting words ever spoken to me. They were also completely right! She did outgrow me, and I was totally bored with her. It was like a tea leaf prophecy; the future is seen before it’s lived. It was what it was…. nothing would change it.

This is normal, expected and makes complete sense. If you continue to grow, you’ll continue to outgrow things. However, as we get older and especially after we’ve been working for a while, growing stops being the norm. We fall into a routine and so do the same activities over and over again. We watch the same type of shows. See the same group of friends.

Growth stops.

Think back to your past year. How much of it was similar to the year before? If everything around you remains constant, it is a clear sign that you’re not growing. And in the words of an American journalist, Gail Sheehy, “If we don’t grow, we aren’t living.”

Now, we all grow in different ways. Just because I outgrew eating out every meal doesn’t mean eating out is a bad thing. It just means that for me and in the direction I’m growing, sitting in 730 restaurants a year just don’t fit anymore.  It’s like size 3 shoes, middle school and partying until 6 am. There is nothing wrong with these things; I  just outgrew them.

Growth, if you think back to your adolescent years, is not always easy or fun. Unfortunately, this still holds true even in adulthood. When I hear everyone talk about the Oscars or the big game, I feel like I missed out. When I see people partying or dancing in the Hollywood world I call home; I  want to jump in. In these moments, I find it helpful to remember my reasons for stopping these activities and the exciting things that have filled its place (like MJ).

One of the hardest things to accept is that if you continue to grow, you will outgrow people close to you… your friends… your family… even your spouse.

The only way for you to authentically stay close to these people is to:

  1. Shrink when you are with them,

  2. Help them grow with you or

  3. Fully accept who they are and understand their influence on you.

By shrinking, I refer to behaving in a way that no longer works for you. . Unfortunately, as you get older, you’ll find fewer people who continue to grow, and you’ll find that you are shrinking more often to fit in. The danger of situationally shrinking is that it will stunt your growth especially if you need to do it often. Find ways to balance this and refuel your energy by seeking out and spending time with people who value growth.

Another way to maintain your relationships while still growing is to help proactively those around you to grow. You can do this at work or home. The drawback is change only happens when the other person wants to change not when you want them to change. If they’re not open to growing, they are entitled to that decision. Don’t let your good intentions fall short and resist becoming a snob.

A third way to stay with the great people you love even if you’re growing at various rates is to accept them fully for who they are while keeping in mind the consequences of growing at different speeds.

When you outgrow someone else, your interests begin to differ and your personal outlook and philosophy on life and views on how to live it starts to change. Since life strategies influence behavior, you may find that you’ll gravitate towards different and sometimes opposing activities. Most of your fringe or weak relationships end here because you and the other person won’t be willing to put in the effort to keep the relationship.

In your stronger relationships, compromise tends to happen. You may shrink, or the other person may grow or both. Typically, if the commitment is one-sided for too long, that could strain and eventually end the relationship. Now if both sides stop to grow, the relationship might stay intact, but other areas in your life might begin to suffer. No one said life would be easy.

Look at your life… have you been growing, shrinking or staying the same? If you’re growing but feeling guilty because you’re leaving things you once treasured behind, don’t feel bad about it. It’s part of living a fulfilled life and a natural consequence of growth. If you’re not growing, what are you going to do about it?

Don’t waste another moment… we’re only dancing here for a short while.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

Manny’s message of recovery worked for me!

12764371_10153921666874709_8854675858008419689_oI am the poster child for substance use disorders. That is the new and improved name for “alcoholic and drug addict” (DSM-5). For years, I’d battled an addiction to prescription drugs and couldn’t find a path to freedom. I was physically dependent on drugs and psychologically addicted to the effects drugs created. It was hell… Addiction is the worst job on earth! You are on call 24/7, never get a day off, there are no vacations… no holidays. Addiction does not care if you are sick or if you have plans… none of these are in your “employment contract.” Ask anyone who’s been there!

 An estimated $780,000 was invested in my recovery. I’ve been detoxed, prayed over, rehabbed, saved, baptized, exorcised, new aged and given up on. Finally, something clicked, and I want to share it with you. I’d like to take credit for my recovery, but I’m not that smart of a guy. Fortunately, I met a guy who has it together, and I learned from him. His name is Manny Rodriguez, founder of La Fuente Hollywood Treatment Center.

A recent article I read reminded me of Manny and the key to my recovery.  There are only four things needed to regain your life … Manny said it… I believed it and today, I’m clean and sober.

This is my summation of Manny Rodriguez’s message of hope and the Mayo article that supports it.

I hope it helps you ….

The prognosis of substance use disorders is the same for everyone… you will live with it, or you will die from it. There are no exceptions. Think of addiction the same way you see Type II diabetes. You can live a very long life with diabetes, you can be productive, successful, and enjoy everything life has to offer, or you can lose your vision, kidney functions, limbs and eventually lapse into a coma and die. It’s your decision… live with it or die from it. Understanding the disease and how to live with it is the key to a longer life.

The most common approach to recovery is natural recovery. Natural recovery is a recovery that occurs without treatment or support groups (NIAAA, 2012). When people recognize the cost of their addiction exceeds the benefits, and correct this, they become the “heroes” of addiction recovery. We don’t hear about these folks too often… because doing it without help doesn’t always work However, we can learn a great deal from them. Specifically, the four key ingredients in any successful recovery process. These are humility, motivation, sustained effort and the restoration of meaning and purpose.

Four key ingredients to recovery from addiction

  1. Humility

At the most basic level, recovery is about humility. Some people independently solve their addiction problem (natural recovery). Others ask for help. In both cases, it is a humbling experience to face the reality of dependency. This humility extends to treatment professionals as well. To quote the famous French surgeon, Ambroise Pare (c. 1510-1590), “I bandaged him, and God healed him.” Treatment professionals can point the way. However, each person’s recovery is ultimately a personal triumph and victory.

Professional treatment for addiction is the path of last resort. Think about it for a moment. At its most basic level, treatment involves asking for help. Ordinarily, we don’t ask for help until faced with the realization we need some! An analogy might make this more sensible. Suppose you want to drive your car to an unfamiliar location. Perhaps you never visited this destination before. Do you immediately drive to a gas station and ask for directions? Or, do you first attempt to navigate there on your own?

Until we realize we are lost, we do not consider pulling over and asking for directions. Of course, different people will arrive at this conclusion more quickly than others. Some people are fiercely independent. The notion of asking for help is akin to admitting defeat. Other people are more prone to pull over and ask for directions at the first hint of trouble. The same is true with recovery from addiction. By the time people come in for treatment, they have usually attempted to recover on their own. They’ve reached their individual tolerance level for “being lost” and decided they could use some “navigational” help.

Treatment is a type of navigational help. Let’s continue with the previous example. When we pull over and ask for directions, we don’t expect someone to jump into our car and drive us to our destination! Sure, we’ve asked for help. Hopefully, we received some helpful directions. Nonetheless, we still have to drive ourselves to the desired location. This is true of addictions recovery. Ultimately, everyone must drive themselves down the road to recovery. Therefore, even with “navigational help,” recovery still involves natural recovery.

But wait, you say. Does natural recovery mean that people addicted to heroin or alcohol stopped on their own? Is there more of these “natural recovery” folks than people who complete addictions treatment? Yes and Yes. Heroin use is a classic example. Many Vietnam veterans were addicted to heroin when they returned home. Public health officials were concerned about this. What if they didn’t seek treatment? Would there be a devastating surge in heroin use? None of these outcomes occurred. Most heroin-using veterans simply quit on their own. How did they do it? The short answer is natural recovery. Of course, not all veterans fully recovered. Some developed other addictions when they gave up heroin. Others only partially gave up heroin.

Smoking is a more familiar example. If you have been around since the 1960s or 1970s, your experience will confirm the following facts. Tens of millions of Americans have quit smoking. Very few of them sought treatment or attended a support group. How many rehabs are you aware of for quitting smoking? If quitting smoking were easy, these results would not surprise us. Most people recognize that quitting smoking is quite difficult. Almost everyone who quits smoking does this without specialized help or treatment. It may take a handful of serious attempts to succeed finally.

A similar result has been found for alcohol. There are individuals who stopped or reduced their alcohol use have done so on their own. Unless you are a student of addictions research, you might not know there are so many of these successful quitters and moderators. Indeed, it would be quite unusual to hear someone say, “I used to have a really bad drinking problem. You might have even called me an alcoholic. But you know, I just cleaned up my act on my own.  Now I don’t think about it much anymore.” It’s quite sensible that someone wouldn’t advertise these facts about themselves. Unfortunately, this silence means most people are unaware of the ways people recover from addiction without help.

  1. Motivation

A second crucial ingredient is motivation. During interviews with others in recovering, a common theme was found. The need to change finally became important enough. In other words, the benefits of change outweighed the costs of remaining addicted. This realization provided sufficient motivation to make needed changes. People who succeeded in natural recovery were able to evaluate the costs and benefits of their addiction accurately. Not all individuals appear to be able to do so. This is where treatment can be very helpful. Treatment can help people take an honest, hard look at their situation. This helps them to evaluate the costs and benefits more accurately. This will then provide the motivation to make needed changes.

  1. Sustained effort

The third key ingredient to successful recovery is a sustained effort. Whether you recover on your own or with treatment, recovery requires a sustained effort. Sustained effort is needed to persevere through the initial periods of discomfort. This lesson is clear from smokers who quit. People who successfully quit smoking spend a substantial amount of time preparing to change. They experience varying degrees of discomfort getting through the transitional period from smoker to smoke-free. Many people who do not succeed in their first recovery effort under-estimated how much effort it would involve.

  1. Restore meaning and purpose to life

Finally, it is necessary to restore meaning and purpose to your life. At some point, it will become evident that your world revolved around your addiction. To succeed in recovery, something else must fill that void. At the onset, build your recovery around things that give your life meaning and purpose. This might mean spending more time with your kids. Whatever it is, begin to recognize and enjoy the benefits of your freedom from addiction.

We know these four ingredients are common ingredients of successful recovery. However, we also know there is no single, correct path to recovery. Expect to find your road to recovery. Seek information and input. Then consider carefully what makes the most sense for you. Go ahead, try it. If it doesn’t work, try something different. A common expression is very fitting. “If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again.” Realize that very few people are successful with just one attempt. Assume that there are many different roads to recovery just as there are many different people. Never give up. This is your life… your chance… find what works and hold on for an amazing adventure!

Manny Rodriguez is a very insightful man… he’s taken his message to those still suffering in addiction, and it works!

Thank you, Manny!

This is my journey… this is my life!

Rob Cantrell, MBA, MA, LAADC, ICAADC, PhD Candidate

You’re a pig and totally screwed me over… why did I let you go?

029c0ffc8113d51fd7bf0a4f36bafc84I’ve never done anything in moderation… I don’t understand how it works and don’t care to find out. That goes for everything… do it to the extreme or just stay on the porch. My romances are at the front of the line when it comes to all or nothing moments. Most have started and ended with such intensity they seemed destined for the history books. As bad as the break – up periods were I usually got sucked back into them because I didn’t want to be alone… or I thought I could make it work next time. I was wrong 100% of the time…

Recently, I was listening to Sade and felt the need to get sucked onto memory lane over someone who totally screwed me to the wall and left me to rot ( due to a court order, I am no longer mentioning names!!). But I will mention, Paul Hudson, a writer who seems smarter than me when it comes to realizing good lovin’ gone bad is really just lovin’ gone. Let it go and get on with it. I’m going to sum up what I’ve learned from him… because I’ve had a hard time making love work!

So what is it with romance? The sex is never that great… or it isn’t worth putting up with so much unhappiness to have it! Do we miss the person when they’re gone or what we remember about life with them? Are people capable of missing anything or anyone? Or are we only missing our interpretation and memory of that thing or person? It sounds like the same thing, but it’s not. In essence, we aren’t capable of missing or loving anyone for the exact person he or she is. Instead, we are only capable of loving and appreciating people and things for who or what we understand them to be.

People judge — we all do. It’s the way we were built, and it will never, ever change. By judging, we create a set of beliefs that we have about an individual. As the relationship grows, we tweak.

Sometimes, however, our interpretations of that person are way off the mark — which is one reason people fall out of love. They fall out of love with the person they thought they knew because they’ve grown to understand the person who exists — and it’s not the same person.

People interpret, then recollect and slightly alter their memory of that person before again interpreting that memory of that particular individual. People are fricking complicated. Sometimes the way we remember someone is very similar to the person he or she is — or, at the very least, once was.

But we like to romanticize. We like to focus in on the way someone made us feel rather than the way he or she acted and treated us. By doing so, we focus in on those strong, pleasant emotions and allow them to cloud our entire memory of an individual.

Again, sometimes this memory is right on the mark. Sometimes we have every reason to miss someone. Unfortunately, the opposite is just as likely to be true. Sometimes you don’t miss the person but instead, miss the idea of him or her. This person treated you like shit, but you can only remember the good times.

You miss having someone in your life — it’s completely understandable. People don’t like to be alone. Yes, some of us manage much better than others, but it’s just about always due to necessity. No one chooses to be entirely alone unless he or she has some psychological issues. Sure, we all like to be alone from time to time, but only from time to time. Inevitably, we’ll get lonely and want to have someone in our lives to share our lives. It’s completely natural and nothing at all to be ashamed of.

What you should be ashamed of is allowing yourself to miss people who treated you like garbage. They may have been incredibly nice to you on special occasions, but life isn’t full of special occasions. If it were, then there would cease to be a need for the term. If you’re missing someone who would constantly hurt you because he or she simply did not care, then you need to take a step back, take some time to get reacquainted with your reality.

You cannot allow yourself to be all right with being used and mistreated. You simply can’t allow it. You only miss this person when you feel alone. There’s a very easy way to differentiate between true love and everything else we confuse to be love. People miss someone from their past when they are lonely or sad.

The same people look into their past for someone to lean on when they need someone to lean on but have no one to turn to. That’s not love — that’s you grasping at straws. When life is difficult, we never want to be alone because having someone in our lives would make things easier.

As human beings, we’re always interested in making things easier. This isn’t real love. It’s loneliness stretching our imaginations and allowing us to dwell on memories that are more interpretation and less actual reality. If you seem to only miss someone during the hard times, then try not to be fooled into believing you miss him or her.

On the other hand, if you can miss someone even during your happiest moments, then you have a true reason for missing that individual. If you look at your life and all the happiness you feel, and the first thing that comes to mind is, “If only she (or he) were here to experience this with me…” then there can be no argument; you love this person.

You don’t miss the person you were with; you miss the person you were when you were with him or her. When we reach back into our past and remember past lovers, the experiences we had together, the feelings we felt, the memories we created… we aren’t so much thinking about the person we were with but rather a person we were when we were with him or her.

People are self-absorbed. It’s our nature. It shouldn’t be shunned but should be embraced, better understood and a bit better controlled. We don’t remember the person we once loved because it isn’t possible. We never directly interact with people; we interact with our interpretations of them.

And our interpretations are very malleable. We reach back and make changes to the way we understand people and things, as well as how we feel about them. Regardless of all of this, the fact remains that the things and people we believe matter most are the things and people who affected us in the biggest way.

This is something many people overlook: We remember the way people affected us and not the people themselves. Sure, we remember the things they did that made us feel the way we felt, but in reality, we are honing in on the resulting emotions, not the causal actions.

With that being said, what we are missing isn’t so much the individual as it is the reality that having that individual in our lives allowed for. We miss the way we felt and the people we became when we were with him or her. We miss the people we were because they were better versions of the people we are now.

This may be almost entirely the result of nostalgia, but nevertheless, it is the reality we live in — regardless of whether or not we realize it or accept it. People are capable of loving the same individual forever. We are capable of missing him or her and capable of understanding what we managed to lose or give up on. This is rarely the case.

More often than not, we are exhausting ourselves emotionally on individuals who don’t deserve our attention. Learn the difference, and your life will lead you in a much brighter direction.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

After I fail… what will I do?

5ee1406998cf1da789f5f8595c51df49Fear has never motivated me. I’ve been controlled, consumed and held prisoner by it. When I moved to Hollywood, I had everything in the world to fear. I was a stranger in a strange land with no money, friends, safety net or connections. I had no job, car or any earthly possessions. I was starting over at a time in life when most people are kicking back and coasting with the new sports car and trophy wife/husband/lover. As usual, my timing sucked, but this was my last chance to get it together. I knew when I failed (not if), I didn’t have anything to leave behind in Los Angeles when the plane took off for Florida with me on it. Janis Joplin was right, “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose!”. I had nothing to lose in L.A. and no reason to return to Jacksonville, Florida to pick up the nothing I left there….

Even today, I wake up afraid. I’m afraid of death and loss and not finding acceptance from people I’ve never really liked or wanted to be like… I still fear the unknown. The difference between now and days passed is I’m no longer living in vodka or prescription bottles trying to escape fear. I am going to fail. That is a reality. So, today I spend probably too much time online seeing how other people are facing the dreaded “F” word… and as usual, I found some information that makes sense to me. If I’m able to step back and take me out of the equation for a few seconds, I can normally work through most problems in my life. Recently, I read an article by Tim Brownson that explained fear in a way I understand… this is what I’ve figured out….

If you’re like me, there’s been MANY times you’ve been afraid to do something, or afraid to take chances, because you were afraid you’re going to fail. What would your childhood self say if he/she saw all the opportunities you missed out on, and all the dreams you gave up on because you weren’t willing to take a chance? But what would your childhood self say if he/she could get a look at the choices you’ve made?

Sometimes playing it safe is the easiest choice in life, but in return, you’re forced to live your life knowing you settle for not truly knowing what was out there, not knowing what you could have done with your life, and, most importantly, not having the chance to learn or grow.

We’ve all had times where we’ve given up on dreams, not gone after something, or not taken a chance, all because we were afraid of that dreaded question:

“What if I fail?”

We Aren’t Meant To Fear Failure

But what about when we were children; we dreamed of perfection, we were ambitious, and we only dreamed big dreams about how we could change the world.

As children, we didn’t even once think about the possibility of failure… we just think about helping others, making people happy, and making amazing ourselves with what we accomplish.

Whether it was learning to walk, swim, ride a bike; whatever.

We went after what we wanted relentlessly, only focusing on our goals and objectives, and on turning the outcomes in our mind into a reality.

We did whatever we had to do, no matter how many obstacles got in our way, to get to the finish

And you know what’s even more amazing?

We ALWAYS accomplished our goals without exception.

Failure Never Even Entered Our Minds

As children, and a trait you’ll find in successful adults, you’ll notice that they build an image in their mind, and focus on pursuing it relentlessly without even paying attention to the obstacles, and every time we experienced a “failure”, we just ignored it, and kept on moving in the direction of the star we were shooting at.

We dreamed of settling for nothing less than the best for ourselves; we didn’t even think of the words “no” or “can’t”, and we just kept moving forward

Why We Began To Fear Failure

Like anything else, we were taught to look at the world a certain way as we grew up.

And for most of us, rather than hearing:

“You learned to walk, swim, ride a bike, and achieve every single goal you set for yourself because you kept going in the face of adversity; failure is just a natural part of learning as you try something you’ve never done before and move toward your goals.”

Most of us hear:

“You failed; that’s automatically something negative; you suffered a bad outcome… failure is something you want to avoid at all costs.”

Most of us only fear failure because someone else taught it to us to.

We learn and grow through our challenges naturally, without even looking at them as “challenges”, but rather “steps” to realizing the images we build in our wonderful imaginations, and we just keep going after our dreams until they’re reality… we don’t even see a loss until someone teaches us to when we’re older; we only see achievement and gain.

Failure Is Critical To Winning

One thing you’ll notice if you study ANYONE who’s become successful is that far more failures always preceded their successes.

All the world’s most successful people have one thing in common:

They never stopped dreaming or focusing on a goal the same way they did when learning to walk, swim, or ride a bike.

And the funny thing is, as we get older, that desire to dream bigger, to imagine achieving something incredible, and to do something great for people stays present in all of us, but it gets squashed by all the crap that gets put into our heads about failure being a bad thing, rather than a learning experience.

Learning To Look At Failure The Right Way

Whether it was James Dyson doing 5,126 failed prototypes before he got it right, Thomas Edison with 10,000 failed attempts to invent the light bulb, or Walt Disney going bankrupt twice before he achieved his first success, none of these great achievements would have changed our world had it not been for failure.

Here is the truth about failure:

Failure = learning.

They are the same thing.

If we, as children, are born with all the tools to dream, imagine, and achieve every goal we set for ourselves, and we learn and grow through our challenges, and we amaze the world with what we’re capable of.

We’ve got hidden skills and talents; all of us… but the only way they’re going to be brought out is if we us this natural formula for success we’re all born with.

And the best part is I don’t even have to teach you anything; you already used this formula to walk and talk, so you just need to use it as an adult; it’s that simple!

Speaking from personal experiences, the most meaningful learning experiences in my life came out of failures.

If I hadn’t failed, I’d still be the same, and I’d never have learned or grew.

I would never have been presented with challenges, and I’d never have shown myself and the world what I was truly capable of.

I’d have never gotten that sense of achievement and self-confidence that only comes from knowing I did something I thought was impossible, all because I had the guts and faith to believe in myself, just like you should in yourself.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell

I’m not perfect…I have made mistakes and I’ve hurt people

I get bored quickly with people who have decided to stop killing themselves with drugs, alcohol, food, cigarettes, online porn, sex or anything else that takes over a life and then suddenly become experts on everything…

The minute someone gives me a list of “10 things that will change my life” …. I’m gone! These people don’t have the answers to anything… they have opinions. Too often, they want to show me how to be like the “new them”! Chances are I didn’t like the old them, and I don’t want to know how to be like them now…

I am a recovering alcoholic/addict… I have figured very few things out other than if I want to live I have to stay away from drugs and alcohol. That did not require a list. That required change.

I have made every mistake on earth and haven’t learned a lot from most of them other than my choices in life have beaten the crap out of me on more than one occasion.

Recently, I read an article on mistakes that hit home and didn’t require me to do too much other than trace them … face them and erase them. I can do that! Here’s my take on what I read about mistakes… maybe it will help you if you’re dealing with too much baggage….

You might have been conditioned during childhood to hide your mistakes so that nobody else could criticize, judge or embarrass you for making it. On the surface, this might make you feel a little better. However, below the surface the mistake you made will eat you up with guilt. More often than not, when you make a mistake, psychologically the best thing for you to do is to admit that you made the mistake and took full responsibility for resolving things. Not only will this gain you the respect of your peers, but it will also give you peace of mind.

You made a mistake, and now you are responsible for fixing things and learning from your experience so that you can do better next time. This is how things should be. However, often people won’t admit their mistakes, and they certainly won’t learn from their experience. And as a result, they keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again until critical lessons are finally learned.

Being at peace with your mistakes means that you are comfortable with your mistake and ready to learn what you can from your experience. However, to reach this place in your life, you must take to heart a few things.

First of all remember that the path to your goals is naturally riddled with mistakes; with errors of judgment; with unforeseen circumstances, and with miscalculated decisions. This is just a natural part of life. We’re not perfect, and that’s a fact. Nobody is perfect and everybody will make mistakes. They are what makes life interesting and fun. In fact, the bigger mistakes you end up making, the bigger the lessons you will learn, and the more you will grow as a result, which will provide you with a greater array of life experience and wisdom.

It is, however, important to remember that you are not your mistakes. Mistakes are what you do, and not who you are. You must not get this mixed up.

Secondly, when you make a mistake, it’s important to realize that you are in fact making progress. Mistakes are not a step back, but rather a side-step that will help you to see the path ahead with greater clarity as you keep moving forward. They are there to help you and to help balance you along your journey towards your desired outcomes.

Success is a result of ongoing failure and mistakes. Nobody has achieved anything worthwhile in this world without failing greatly and making a ridiculous amount of mistakes along the way. Your journey will be no different. Therefore, be at peace with that, and accept that mistakes are simply a natural part of life.

Shift Your Perspective About Mistakes

Stop viewing mistakes as something that’s negative and hurtful. Instead, begin viewing mistakes as opportunities to reevaluate the path you are taking towards your goals.

Is it possible that a mistake could help you find a short-cut that you previously overlooked? Or maybe it’s possible it might allow you to learn an important skill that will be vital for your future as you make progress along your journey. In fact, if anything, mistakes are a perfect opportunity to grow stronger and more resilient.

Resilience is something that will help you to keep pushing forward despite the obstacles and setbacks in your way. And the more mistakes you make, the more resilient you will become, as long as you proactively learn from these mistakes and adapt your approach accordingly.

Mistakes are also opportunities to correct your behavior. Maybe what you’re doing isn’t going to work out long-term. Therefore, the mistake you made today might very well alert you to this problem. Correct it, and you will be in a much more advantageous position in the future.

Mistakes present opportunities to analyze your decisions. Sometimes the decision you make might be out of line with the goals you want to achieve. A mistake will alert you to the fact that you are on the wrong path. Therefore, use it to redirect yourself back onto the right path.

When you make mistakes, they do two things well. For starters, they should indicate to you that you are in fact challenging yourself. Whenever you challenge yourself, this means that you’re growing and learning something new. Mistakes also indicate that there is room for improvement. And this is a very positive sign. If there was no room for growth or improvement, then what’s the point of doing anything at all. We would be where we want to be, and life would be stagnant. Hope for improvement provides us with something to work towards — something to strive for that will reward us for our efforts.

Finally, you must come to understand that mistakes are simply a part of the learning process — they are forms of practice and training that we do on a daily basis in preparation for the attainment of our big objective.

Like a boxer who trains every day for a big fight, you are also training every day to achieve that big goal. And like a boxer you will get hit and fall. In fact, you may even slip numerous times and fall flat on your face.

Yes, you made a mistake, but you also got up and kept moving forward. Your eyes are on the big goal, and not on the mistake; you made at the moment. Yes, of course, embrace the mistake and learn from it, but don’t let it discourage you from the big picture you are working towards.

Be Careful While Making Mistakes

When you make a mistake, it’s important that you don’t fall into the trap of trying to justify your mistake. Mistakes must be embraced not justified or rationalized. Unless you take ownership of your mistakes, you will never truly learn the lessons you must master to move forward in this area of your life.

It’s also dangerous to ignore any mistakes you make. Your mistakes are like signposts that help angle you in the right direction. By ignoring these sign-posts, you are risking getting side-tracked. And the longer it takes you to realize this, the more effort it will eventually take to get yourself back on the right track in the future.

On the surface mistakes don’t feel good. As a kid you were probably taught that mistakes were bad, however as an adult you must never indulge in self-pity or by feeling regretful that you made a mistake. This kind of behavior is never helpful and will only hurt your growth and development in the long-term.

When you make a mistake, it’s critical that you refrain from blaming others and even blaming yourself for the mistake. Just take responsibility for it, do something about it, learn from it, and move on.

Finally, realize that you are wasting your time when you begin complaining about your mistake or making excuses for it. This defensive-minded behavior is natural for most people. However, it cannot be natural for you. Quit complaining or making excuses. Instead, gain feedback about the mistake and make your observations that will help you to learn from this experience to improve your decisions and actions in the future.

This is my journey… this is my life.

Rob Cantrell