One of my favourite things about Anxiety Gone is having the opportunity to meet amazing people who have overcome incredible things. It’s such a powerful reminder that we, as humans, have the ability to find exceptional strength when we need it the most. And Conor McMullen is one of those people. He is McMullen is a Miami-based musician, author of Be True: Discover Your Inner Hero, and founder of Lucid Project, a music & mindfulness lifestyle brand. Most importantly, he is a survivor… In many ways.
This is his story…
As I drifted in and out of consciousness, I heard it. It was faint, kind of like a voice in the distance. I wasn’t sure if the whole thing was a side effect of my brain injury, or if it was from the steady IV drip of opioids. Either way, I didn’t know what the hell was going on.
But I kept hearing it.
After my initial confusion wore off, I started to get curious. It’s not like I had other things to distract me. I was stuck in Jackson Memorial’s intensive care unit, I couldn’t move, and I wasn’t sleeping.
Rather than slowly spiral out of control, I came to the realization that my only option was to dive deeper — to go within. I wasn’t too keen on the idea, but tough times call for a new approach.
Down the rabbit hole I went.
Where My Mental Health Journey Began
18 months ago, while walking home from a friend’s party, I was hit by a car. The ensuing brain injury left me with complete memory loss from the accident itself, so naturally, I still have a lot of questions. What do I know?
The experience has been the most difficult one of my life.
Throughout the last 18 months of recovery, I’ve spent countless hours in solitude. And even though I was blessed to have family and friends with me for long stretches of the heavy stuff, I’ve largely been by myself. I won’t sugar coat it. There were some really difficult points — ones where I didn’t know if I’d be strong enough to make it.
But here’s the thing.
By repeatedly facing my mental & physical hardships, I started to become stronger. The process also forced me to come to terms with something else.
I had to grow.
With that growth in mind, I realized that I’d need to place my focus on the outcome that I desired, instead of the situation in which I found myself. I had to focus on getting better, so that’s what I began to do. Every morning, I woke up and asked myself the following question.
Today, what small step can I take towards the pursuit of my true potential?
MICRO CONSISTENCY IS KEY
A mental reminder for us all. In the pursuit of our goals, there are no steps that are too small. In fact, it’s only through the consistent accumulation of these micro-steps that we actually get to the finish line. Tortoise and the hare, anyone?
I’ll be honest — that mindset was the only thing that got me through the most difficult periods of my recovery process.
For example. Because the accident broke my neck, it required cervical fusion surgery, which resulted in some pretty nice hardware being added to my spine. To make matters worse, I had to wear a massive horse-collar to keep my head still. Sleeping and showering in that thing was a blast, let me tell you.
When I was able, I started taking the collar off for tiny periods of time. From there, I would just sit up in bed and try to hold everything steady. As a lifelong athlete, those were some of the most frustrating days I’ve ever experienced.
But I soon realized something. Even though they were only tiny increments, I was making progress.
And that started to add up. Soon, I was able to keep the brace off for longer periods of time — that positive feedback loop continued to motivate me.
What’s the lesson?
Rather than allowing ourselves to get frustrated by the things outside of our control, it’s important that we look at all the things that we can do.
The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by the mountain of a goal you‘ve set, and you feel yourself getting upset with your perceived lack of progress, I want you to remember this mantra.
A tiny step is still a step.
Now go take one.