My Personal Story
I spent a long time debating if I should put my personal story on the internet for anyone to see especially when I am a professional who has a goal to find clients and to help them by investing in a Life Upgrade Plan that I am proposing. It is a big step, since I have not been on social media for over 5 years never mind having a website, blogging or sharing my personal story with anyone. I worry about negative comments and what not, however in the end, I have chosen to be vulnerable and share with you.
But I believe everyone including myself has had personal struggles and issues and I always will, but I will continue to acknowledge my blocks, my self limiting beliefs and areas where I can improve opposed to pretending I am perfect or distracting or numbing out. To be a human being is to not only experience the positive feelings and emotions such as happiness and joy but also to experience the negative feelings such as sadness and disappointment along the way.
I will not get into the specific details or share the intimate secrets, as I feel that is unnecessary and would classify as over-sharing. To be vulnerable is not dumping everything out for anyone, it is sharing by having healthy boundaries. I will just share the ‘coles notes’ version of my personal life which ultimately led me to becoming a Life Upgrade Coach and my mission of helping clients help themselves.
I spent my childhood in a small town, playing hockey, going to family gatherings and hanging out with friends. I would describe it as an average childhood, as in terms of nothing great and nothing terrible which means just average. I was the oldest of 3 children, I was raised in a two parent home, and I know that my parents did the best possible job they could by loving me and supporting me. I am grateful to them and I love them both.
I was not a great kid or a terrible kid, just an average kid. The one thing that I remember growing up is constantly being in situations where I noticed that a lot of people were not happy. What I mean by this statement is that I would constantly notice that people were mean to one another, talked about each other behind their backs, betrayed one another and this appeared to be ‘just the way it was’. As I got older and observed the adults, it sure seemed like nobody ever wanted to talk about their personal emotions or feelings, unless they were drinking alcohol. They all seemed to try very hard to pretend that they were ‘all good’ and that nothing was wrong even though you could sense anger and stress.
I found myself confused most days and overwhelmed thinking about all this ‘stuff’ in my head over and over. I concluded that maybe ‘I am just weird’, and I better keep these thoughts to myself. One hard part about growing up was that I felt like I was not allowed to be sensitive or to cry and I was expected to just “suck it up” when something negative happened.
Other thoughts that I found myself constantly wondering about was ‘what makes some people mean and some people kind?’ and “Why does it hurt so much on my inside when someone teases me or does something mean to me? I quite often felt like I wanted to run away or punch someone when I felt this way on the inside. I had no clue how to deal with my personal feelings and emotions growing up and struggled in school but found my escape through hockey until I was about 17 years old. Unfortunately, at 18 years old, after the passing of grandmother and some rough experiences at school, I then found my escape through alcohol and drugs.
I moved to Winnipeg at 21 years old of age to get a degree from the University of Winnipeg because I was under the impression that is what I should do. No individual made me do this, I just absorbed this information by the people around me and as well as television (No Social Media at this time).
I was under the impression that success and happiness was defined by: You get a degree and a job, you work hard, you get married, you create a family and then retire one day and hang out and watch your grandkids. This impression of life left me wondering to myself questions such as: Is this the only option, what if I don’t know what job I want, or what degree to take, what if I can’t find someone to love and marry or have kids with? This again, left me overwhelmed and confused, but feeling there was no other choice, I went about my everyday life doing what everyone else around me was doing and I just ‘sucked it up’ and numbed out and escaped my thoughts, feelings and emotions when I needed to.
I did what I felt I was supposed to do
I went to University to become a gym teacher not because I was passionate about this idea or that I though that it was my life purpose. Instead, I made this major life decision because I felt the pressure to succeed and since I was good at sports and could have summers off work, I decided to be a gym teacher. I started at the University of Winnipeg and started taking Kinesiology classes as my major and history classes as my minor.
While attending university, I got a part time job and when I was not doing schoolwork or working, I was spending time with my friends just hanging out and getting high, going to the gym lifting weights and hockey was still a big part of my life. I played, watched and talked about hockey quite frequently.
My life was full, but I still ended up feeling empty on the inside, carrying this void within myself that I could not fill. I was struggling with personal feelings that I was ‘weird’ because I wanted more from life, that I was not happy and was feeling guilty because I was not grateful for being in University and having a part job, friends and hobbies.
There was no purpose
Without realizing it at that time, I was seeking real personal connections, real direction and a real purpose in my life. I needed to love myself on the inside not look for outside love to validate my life. Consequently, I was suffering from anxiety and self limiting beliefs and covering it all up with school, excessive exercise, hockey, alcohol and drugs. I had no clue who to talk to, what to do, or how to cope. I was lost.
Personal Turning Point
Luckily for me at that right moment, I found something by accident that would bring passion, purpose, and hope into my life. I wanted a new part time job and at that time my friend was working at a group home for male youth through child and family services and told me come work there, I said “okay, why not”
I had no clue at that moment that working at that group home with these youth would forever change me and my personal life path. Through my job at this group home I heard stories of such personal trauma, abuse, neglect, addictions and struggle that it literally “woke me up” from this sleep I was in, living like a robot, being unsatisfied and I realized that I was wasting my life when I could be doing so much more. I could be impacting people, my community and the world.
The change begins
Immediately I could feel that this work, this connection, this mentoring of youth, this helping of people, that this was my purpose. I found that helping people heal themselves and improve their personal lives was something that came natural to me. Internally, I could feel for the first time in my life that something was shifting within myself. I could tell that this would be more than just a job and I felt that my personal purpose was to help others that were less fortunate than myself.
I realized in this moment that I was not destined to be a gym teacher, obviously being teacher is an important role, the other factor to be honest was that I could not handle studying for human anatomy (required to be a gym teacher). It was brutal for me because I didn’t have the passion to do the hard work necessary. The theme for me around this time was if I was not passionate about something or if I was just doing because I felt like I should then I would just put minimal effort into that activity.
Going all in
So, I chose to change my degree path and I started taking certain courses in Criminal Justice, Sociology, Psychology and Conflict Resolution Studies. I was passionate about learning about the human mind and how it works and why some people seem happier then others, why some people are mean and some are kind, as well as pondering: why can some people make it through struggles and trauma while others end up in jail or homeless. These ‘weird’ questions that I had since childhood about life created my curious mindset and finally, I had the avenue to feed my curiosity.
It was a relief to realize that in fact I was not the only person who had all these questions about why we are expected to do certain things, act a certain way and live a certain life to be happy. I was not ‘weird’ as I used to think when my mind wanted deeper conversations and answers about life.
No longer alone
I discovered that there were many individuals who had dedicated their lives to researching human behaviour, the human mind and developed patterns amongst their findings that happiness does not just happen by accident. It appeared that personal happiness was ultimately a choice and you would need to design your life with intention to achieve happiness. This absolutely blew my mind and I was instantly hooked and wanted to know more about all of this. This passion for helping people, learning about people, analyzing and investigating the human experience led me to a successful career within social services. I genuinely enjoyed giving individuals the time they deserved to tell their story and appreciated how they allowed me to ask questions and provide perspective to help them help themselves.
Professionally Successful but Not a Personal Win
I worked in social services for ten years in a variety of roles and through dedication of crafting my skills I became successful throughout those years and helped many people, help themselves. It went well in many ways. I was given promotions, praised and thanked along the way. I am very grateful for all those opportunities that I was given to impact people’s personal lives and make an income and to be able to provide for my family at the same time.
However, the real interesting part is that while I was accomplishing a lot professionally, simultaneously on a personal level I found myself struggling. Personally, I was not thriving like I was professionally, I could serve others and help them, but I seemed unable to serve and help myself.
A Switch in Bad Behaviour
I was no longer drinking alcohol or using drugs to numb out my personal anxiety, self limiting beliefs and stress. Unfortunately, throughout this time in my life I was still actively avoiding these negative thoughts within my mind and the emotional discomfort that came with them. Drugs and alcohol were substituted by working too many hours, spending all my time worrying about all my clients, friends and family and what I could do for them and not what I could do for myself. Clearly, I was neglecting myself and had zero self care practices.
Because of these factors, I found myself worn down emotionally, mentally, and physically more and more, day to day and wondering why am I not happy. I felt very stressed out all the time and unable to focus on the present moment and I was unable to settle my mind, constantly thinking about my work and how to pay the bills.
At this point in time, I had a family (wife and child), a nice car, a nice house, money to do activities and buy most things that I desired, yet I felt so incomplete and empty. I found myself angry because I was thought that I did everything I was supposed to do. I went to school, got a job, got married, and created a family, so what was my problem? Why was I was looking down upon myself, thinking something was wrong with me? I was treating myself way worse than I would ever treat another human being. I felt ashamed.
What was the problem?
As a reflect back, I now realize that a major personal problem for me was that I was a ‘people pleaser.” I identified my self worth and value based on what I could do for others and what others thought of me. I had spent my entire life worried about everyone else but myself. For, example, I worried about impressing my parents, my girlfriends, my friends, my wife, my family and anyone else that knew me. In addition, worried about being the best at my job, the best husband, the best father, the best provider and so on and so on. I just wanted everyone to like me and wanted to avoid conflict. It became obvious that I had no clue what me self identity was, who I really was, what my values were.
I never practiced self-care, I never slowed down to put self-work in, I never put in healthy boundaries, I never said ‘no’ when I wanted to, I always put everyone else ahead myself, I never addressed my internal anxiety and self limiting beliefs that I had carried with me since childhood. Once I started feeling overwhelmed and stressed, I just tried to push through it and ‘man up’
Self-Care is so Important
I always assumed that I would heal myself by healing others, but I learned the hard way this is not how it works. You must invest in yourself and your capacity to plan for stress, otherwise everything else in your life will eventually fall apart. I tried very hard to keep it together and just be grateful for my life because lots of people I had met in social services had it much worse than myself.
This life that I lived of serving others and not myself led me to a place of extreme burnout. I was tired of being tired, my life felt overwhelming, my relationships with my family and friends seemed artificial because we all just seemed to pretend to be happy when it was obvious that we were not.
I was overworked, overstressed, was not talking to anyone about my feelings and emotions, my relationships started to suffer, and I found myself trying to just survive day to day. I was not enjoying life at all…
The Breaking Point
Then it happened, the major event that changed my life forever, a life trauma occurred that proved such a challenge for me to overcome that my heart just literally broke and so did my will to live.
The event that happened was that my father was diagnosed with a terminal disease and I was told he was going to die. This news created an immediate feeling of rage, I started asking myself, “Why him, he is too young to die, he is a good person, why me, I am a good person. “He did everything right in his life, This is not fair! Where’s the justice? Where’s the Karma?”
At that moment, I felt a sense of utter despair and hopelessness, I sat there thinking what is the point of this? We go to school, we work, we produce kids and then we die. You see at the time, I had no capacity to take on any more stress, any more pressure, any more negative news. I was already running on fumes and overwhelmed by internal anxiety and stress; without an internal or external emotional support system.
I should have asked for help
In retrospect, what would have greatly benefited me was to seek help, I should have reached out for professional help. Sadly, I did not do this, rather I just kept going through life, grinding it day to day and working a stressful job, being that ultimate provider for his family and a “Super Dad.”
I had convinced myself that I had no time to be sad, I had a job, a family and now I needed to help take care my dad and be there to support my mom. I had to “man up” I had “to suck it up” “Life happens, push through it”
‘Pushing through it’ and ‘manning up’ after years of neglecting myself proved to be too great of a challenge and this tragic event proved to be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” Quite literally, I developed back pain, then neck pain, then stomach issues, headaches and so on and so on, until I reached the point where my health declined so much that I could barely function and get out of bed. This led to two years of hospital visits and I went to any health professional available to get better. Nothing worked, I got worse and worse.
It’s not magic.
The problem was that I was seeking a magic pill, or a magic diet, I was waiting for someone to fix me so that I could go back to pleasing everyone else as I always did. I was too ‘stuck’ to realize I needed to go within myself, I needed to make internal changes, I needed to invest in myself and love myself first and foremost. I needed to investigate my emotions, feelings and self limiting beliefs.
Along the way, I got divorced, and had to quit my job and lost my nice house, my nice car and was in chronic pain everyday and was told I had fibromyalgia. I was told there is no cure to this, I would take pain medication to manage it the rest of my life. To say the least, I was devastated, I spent a few years consumed by anxiety, depression and chronic pain. I could not eat, I could not sleep, I was a mess, it was bad, my life was full of darkness and pain, I felt like a zombie just trying to survive and spend time with my daughter and my dying father.
The solution to my personal problem
Then it happened, I met a person, a friend, a life partner who was a therapist, she had gone to school for years and years, read many books, spent many hours researching and helped many clients get their lives back on track who were suffering with mental health issues, stress and trauma.
She taught me one life changing fact: “If you don’t take care of yourself, your body will let you know, you can only neglect yourself for so long until your body will scream at you through physical symptoms that ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
You need to say No to the ‘shoulds’, and be yourself and love yourself otherwise you can not truly love anyone else.
This same person taught me one other important life lesson, she taught me that through emotional support, through listening, through talking about feelings and emotions, through crying, through self exploration and self work you can begin to heal. You can heal from anything, chronic pain, toxic stress, anxiety, depression, self limiting beliefs and trauma.
I finally realized that if I damaged my body through all these years of neglect and emotional avoidance then I could obviously heal my body by honouring it, honouring my feelings and emotions, putting myself first and loving myself.
This was the turning point!
I decided to put Michel Larson first.
I made life changes, I developed new patterns, new habits, worked on my mindset, found strategies to feel better, to improve myself, to upgrade myself. I built myself a capacity to handle stress and life itself.
I immersed myself into readings and courses on how to heal yourself and made it my mission to learn from others and seek experts in the field of healing yourself, improving your life and setting a foundation for happiness, love and joy. Just as many people should, I found trained professionals to help me, help myself.
I took a Life Coach Certification course through Certified Coaches Federation and excelled at it.
The common answer that I kept finding out about health and happiness, is to put yourself first, invest in yourself, figure out what makes you happy not what makes everyone else happy. You need to set goals, make a life plan, challenge yourself, build yourself a capacity, find a support person and upgrade your life day by day. I made a life upgrade plan and it worked!
The Hard Truth
The hard truth and reality of the human experience is that you only get one mind, one body, you only live once, why would you waste it by pleasing everyone else but yourself.
I am not perfect, I am not happy 24/7 but I find myself at peace, grateful and loving myself and my life. I hit rock bottom and climbed back up. I needed help to climb back up, I needed help to help myself. Now, I put the work in everyday that necessary to have a capacity to handle day to day stressors and achieve a sustainable life of joy. I live in the present moment and have learned how to control my anxiety and other emotions. I make logic-based life decisions not emotionally controlled decisions.
My mission is to help anyone avoid the pain I went through and learning these lessons the hard way, if you have fallen, hit rock bottom, please consider letting me help you climb back up.
This is my new passion, my new life purpose to be a Life Coach, to be successful professionally and personally too. I walk the same walk that I talk. I love myself, my daughter, my family, my friends and being a Life Coach.
Please consider signing up for a personal life upgrade plan.
Thank you letting me share my story,