Perhaps many of you reading this article are experiencing some sort of pain or fear. Maybe you have lost a poker tournament, lost money, lost someone special, or lost yourself. It is important to know that we all feel pain in our lives, it is a simple but very important concept. We must learn to face and embrace that pain, to grow, and to learn through our awareness of that very pain or fear. How can we not claim victory in our lives or on the poker tables if we grow from pain instead of hiding it or escaping from it? Life will never be the same.
This isn’t your typical poker article but I am certain I must share this with you, if only in the hope that it might help you learn something about yourself, because in writing this I have definitely grown and am exposing some of my deepest pains and fears. I was excellent at poker, I have accomplished almost as much as anyone my age not named Jason Mercier (pictured) has. I could list those achievements and tell you how I have won a lot of money or that I have had almost total financial freedom now for several years. I am not trying to impress you but I am trying to impress upon you that no matter what level of success you achieve, we are all human and we all experience pain or fear at some level or another.
I have been very successful at poker in the past for various reasons. I lived in a world of pain in my life, where my physiology, focus, language and attitude were based on limiting beliefs and giant fears. I had many limiting beliefs based on circumstances and my perception of the environment I grew up around. I’m sure you will also consider that where you are now is based upon what family setting, what area of the world, and even your perception of those events have led you. My experiences taught me to escape my own emotions and feelings in a search for significance and connection (a much weaker form of love.) It was the greatest need in my life, to be noticed for my achievements was what I thought love and the cure to my pain was. I was amazing at escaping emotions, feelings, thoughts and combining those things with hunger created an excellent, but NOT OUTSTANDING, poker machine. Please be aware that this is not the most powerful way to conquer pain and fears.
I have accomplished many great things in my life and in my poker career, but only now can I truly celebrate and be grateful for those achievements. In my heart my belief was I was never good enough, no matter how much money I had or how high up the ladder I was. Beliefs are certainties we have, and no matter what, certainty controls our lives. When we are certain of an outcome, it will manifest itself in one way or another. This is exactly the point I hope you realize from reading my thoughts, that no matter what your belief or certainty is, it will become true. While knowing that, let me explain to you that my beliefs also included that I was not good enough, strong enough, and was therefore weak and helpless. When our mind creates a certainty or a belief as total truth it is often based on your perception or environment at a young age. These experiences and the perceptions we attach to them, such as your father leaving you or your step father verbally and emotionally abusing mean that people will always leave you and people will always hurt you helps mold that belief, that experience you create as a total certainty. That is how the world is in your eyes, even though you might not consciously be aware of or even understand that our younger self has instilled those beliefs inside our mind and body.
Why can’t we control certainty for good? Well… we can. My success in poker was firmly because of the belief that I knew I could accomplish anything, including winning at a game of luck and skill. I used this belief to find success in poker and I’m sure you can attest to certain things you were certain about and also accomplished. The first key to success in anything is to be very certain of the outcome. The reason I am explaining my vulnerabilities and failures in life is to hopefully make you aware that inner conflicts are the only thing that can hold you back from what you want to accomplish. Inner conflicts put my mind and body through Hell on earth for almost 14 years now, showing up in my body in the forms of digestion issues, pains, weakness and fatigue, and probably what most traditional doctors would classify as clinical depression. I can not explain the state I am in now, however. Except to say that is the most exhilarating, enlightening experience I have had in my entire life. So much is this euphoric feeling that I am compelled to contribute my story of another human and their experience at life and at poker. Hopefully, you too will join me in embracing the pain and knowing that this is to be expected as a human being.
I have used the pain of an emotionally abused and drug addicted step father to get my own freedom from my past and to be certain of my future. I knew I was not going to be him, for that I was certain, and I always tried to love him or help him conquer his own issues even at a young teenage point in my life. If only I realized I was him, we are all him. This simple idea alone brings me to tears almost, I must reiterate we are all him. I fought the same fears and worries as any other human, an enlightening idea after all. We are all one. If only I was aware of what I felt or how to conquer that pain in my life I continued to think I could reach out to others. I needed to reach out to myself. There is no conquering, there is only realizing what is holding you back today, and only you can overcome this by embracing and becoming aware of those limiting beliefs.
Tony Robbins (pictured), who will appear on The Today Show on November 9th, says 80% of everything is psychological, the other 20% being mechanical. Tony Robbins is the best coach in the world, and I’m sure if you strive to find out more information about him or listen to any of his seminars, CD sets, or read his books you could probably grow some awareness of that very fact. I was always aware psychology was the single most important aspect to any success in life or sport, even at a young age I knew to succeed at poker I must control my mind first to believe that anything was possible and that I was absolutely certain I would achieve that. The other keys to success are knowing why you want to achieve that goal, and then taking massive action. For those seeking poker advice, this is what I am offering : be certain of your outcome. Make it very clear what your outcome is, for me it was financial freedom. Know why you want this outcome. I wanted this outcome because it was an escape from my circumstances and a addictive form of significance. Then the final step is massive action and immersion. You must find the tools, teachers, and peer groups that will propel you to get your goal. Certainty, as I have explained, is clearly the most important of these success steps and without it you will never succeed.
Here I sit being vulnerable, yet very honest and emotional, everything poker is not. I will always love poker but have realized my new loves as well. Loves based on new beliefs, empowering true certainties. These new loves dilate my pupils, obsess my mind, and create a sense of hunger and meaning that drove me to write these words and share with you my human experience. New highs that drugs, alcohol, and escapes can not give you. I love to learn. I especially have been driven to learn aspects that improve my health, state of mind, and awareness on the invisible forces that guide our everyday lives. Those things that control who we are, how we feel, and how to get to where we are going. To conquer and embrace, face and challenge yourself in these areas is an absolute direct line to growing. Grow or die. If you are in life and constantly expanding you will be happy as long as you embrace and face the pain. That is the toughest part and I’ll tell you it took the most painful experience in my life to truly say, “fuck it.” I told myself I was done experiencing those limiting beliefs and certainties that had caused me loss of control over my own thoughts, emotions, and directions. Those experiences also caused loss of money, important people, important ideas I valued, and most of all loss of my self identity.
I’ve known this is where I need to be for a while, and if you are still reading this is it is a testament that this is where you truly need to be as well. I’ve been living in Westlake Village, California, going on two months slowly growing, learning, and cultivating my own future success. I don’t know what to tell you to cultivate your success but do know that when you face your fears you will be driven to do something else to both challenge and grow from those fears. For me, it was overcoming one fear of being alone, moving to California by myself was the first step to overcoming what I thought was a giant fear. It also led me to experience and start practicing yoga, working out, going to a therapist, volunteer coaching at a local high school, and having a life coach. Follow your heart and mind, or find someone who is successful and model them.
We all have invisible, driving forces in our lives that we may not even be aware of yet. One I’ve recently become aware of was my craving for connection, attention, and significance that I thought would bring love. It was a belief that people were going to hurt me based upon my step father hurting me through his continual emotional and verbal abuse and drug addictions. Or it was my belief and fear that people were going to eventually leave me, spawning from a lack of relationship with my true father through most of my childhood life. If you are honest with yourself you will find these too, these beliefs that have attached themselves to your everyday thinking with the physiology you exhibit, the words you say to yourself, and the focus with which you constantly are placing with your mind. You will also find stories and utter bullshit, such as people are going to hurt you or people are going to leave you. Perhaps you are not good enough. For many it is that they have no education, they are too young, they don’t have the time. Anything that diverts the power away from themselves and on to blaming someone or something else is the often the most used strategy for obvious reasons. Our body and mind will go to the path of least resistance, something we must fight everyday if we are to succeed. The limiting beliefs will leave you feeling unfulfilled no matter what success you have, trust me please on that very fact, if you can not face them and become aware of them. Even if what you have created is something others are starving and hungry for, such as money, poker, or a beautiful marriage these inner conflicts will eventually manifest themselves to be true. After all, anything we are certain of will become true and I think my examples have proved that. I grew up admiring Tiger Woods and that simple case should show you that we are all human. Even the richest and what seems to us as the most fulfilling life anyone could create could not satisfy him because of his own inner conflicts. Do you want to succeed more than anyone else in the entire sport you are in and not be able to celebrate and feel loved or complete?
Usually the thing we want most is love, whether we know exactly why or not. There is now absolute certainty where I am going and I know why I want it. I am going to a place filled with love and passion for people and places, and I am going there to avoid the senseless pain I’ve inflicted upon myself and those closest to me. My goal is to both give and accept unconditional love, and I would guarantee that most of your actions are also driven to this very concept. It is human nature, we all want love. Usually, through all our actions and deeper meanings you will find what you truly want is something you felt that you are missing. You are not missing it and it is everywhere in the world, whether you see it or not. Your story tells you whether this is true or false. Don’t let the stories, the B.S., the limiting beliefs hold you back from what you truly want. I know that in writing this I might have some contribution to you or someone you know, but the ultimate reason I am writing this is for my own personal growth. Stating these facts and telling so many people about this will ultimately complete my certainty that I will let my values and new beliefs rule my life. Conquer life, and the rest will be very easy.
This has everything to do with both poker and life. I’m sure many of you are starving for the information I know about poker, or the weekly tournamentSteve Gross (pictured) or David Sands win, or the weekly (it seems like) top finish Jason Mercier exhibits. You will never get there if you continue to listen to your own limiting, B.S. beliefs about why you can’t. Furthermore, even if you do get to that point, you will not even be able to celebrate the fruits of your success. Simple self awareness of these facts and certainties will eventually lead to your change and I hope this article is a catalyst. The eventuality might be much more painful and challenging if you don’t just face it today, and eventually disappointment does equal drive. I don’t know what you need to do to face yourself and grow, for me it was an extremely painful moment in my life where I said no more. I have a role model that showed me exactly how to love, live, and care and for that I will be forever grateful. That propelled me to watch and learn, taking mental notes along the way. The final moment that led to my new empowering certainties was attending a Tony Robbins seminar, an eye opening, earth shattering experience that I would recommend to anyone. Don’t say you don’t have the time, the money, or some other B.S. excuse, find a way to improve upon your self because it will be an amazingly fruitful experience.
The best coaching, the best relationship, the best success can never get you what you want whether it be financial, life, spiritual, or relationship success. The greatest motivator and person most able to help you is yourself. This is a very simple concept, and knowing this fact you can achieve anything you ever are certain you will achieve. Life will never be the same.
SowersUNCC – Mike Sowers