To care is to self-care

The toughest man alive, that’s what they call him: David Goggins. Former navy seal, completed over 60 ultra-marathons, holds the Guinness world record for pull-ups, and tons of other amazing achievements. Not something I can easily relate to 🙂

A colleague however, upon my request to share with me what fascinated him, pointed me to a 2019 podcast with the guy. And as it turned out, it was well worth listening to. During the interview, David Goggins elaborates about his tough childhood, about ‘diving into your fears’, as well as about his time in the navy seals and the harsh trainings they had to endure.

And as I was doing the dishes just now, a few years after listening to the podcast, I suddenly remember how David spoke about a particular training event that was dubbed ‘Hell Week’: a 130 hour arduous crucible of physical and mental challenges, which often involved being in ocean water, at freezing temperatures, for hours. (Listed to the fragment here)

David explained about how we was able to make it through these psychological hardships by using a number of ‘tricks’. At 7:11 into the fragment he says this:

“If you don’t think about yourself, there’s no pain. […] In these moments when you’re struggling, if you are a true leader, and worry about your men and women beside you, your mind doesn’t care how cold you are anymore. Your mind is only worried about taking care of the men and women beside you.”

So by being concerned about the well-being of the people around him, and taking care of them, David was able get outside of his own head.

In other words: Caring can be a form of self-care.

And now I’m wondering: is this applicable to my more average life as well? If I actively shift my attention away from my own well-being, and more towards the well-being of the people around me, would I be able to better endure my personal hardships? Because that would all of a sudden make another great argument for a more altruistic way of living: it shaves off some of your personal hurting.