…or get swole, Or quit smoking.  Or become a Maserati driving millionaire.  You wanted something much, much deeper than that.

If you do the hard work of excavating down far enough, you’ll find that your true motivations for each and every action hinge on your relationship with love, time, or fear (avoidance) of death.

That association can be healthy or strained; positive or problematic.  And the resultant (subconscious) chain of emotional reactions that manifest can be in the form of good habits, or those that only serve to drag you down.

In order to create a good habit, action or outcome – or break a negative aspect of each – you’ll need to identify and exploit that root-cause motivator.  

And know that the work of uncovering the true root of a negative behavior is difficult indeed.  This much is guaranteed: whatever you think is the issue is going in, is not the issue.  It’s much deeper.  You’ve crammed the true issue down into the deep, dark recesses of your subconscious.

Case in point:

Lance Armstrong has said that those he both trained with and battled against in his years of competitive cycling did so not so much out of training for a win (the feeling of “winning” is fleeting, at best); they endured the necessary training because they were running from something.  Masking the pain of that “something” with the more visceral and self-imposed pain of their training regimen.

The pain of training they had complete control over.  Or at least it felt as though they did. And that’s what mattered.  The other pain was like a phantom over which they had no providence at all.

I think this is true of all athletes.  Myself included. And it leads to the all-too-common depression and self-destructive tendencies seen in many post-competitive athletes.

In my own case, I had to flee the environment (the university setting) that remind me, on the daily, that I was no longer a competitive athlete.

With the masking mechanism (controlled violence) that had once been channeled into in a “positive” outcome – winning; competitiveness – no gone, I’d begun to spiral out of control.  Nothing to fill the void. Nothing to mask the root pain.

This operates in the same way that the drug and alcohol addicted oftentimes turn to deep religious practice.  The pain remains unresolved. Only the coping mechanism has changed. It’s a simple methadone for heroin exchange.  And if the “methadone” is seen as a culturally acceptable substitute, we leave it at that.

None of us are perfectly “clean” with respect to the dark corners of our subconscious.  Nor should we wish to be. Managed correctly, we’re able to harness whatever that underlying pain is into positive habits and outcomes. Tiger tamers, as it were, of our past traumas.

It’s a continual balancing act, this management.  And sometimes we cannot see for ourselves the forest for the trees.  Others have to help point it out for us.

No shame in that.  You’re not weak, or dumb.  Just in need of the proper mirror.

Heal thyself, harden thyself, change the world –


Previous articleSmarter Recovery
Next articleScripting for positive habit change
Keith Norris is a former standout athlete, a military vet, and an elite strength and conditioning expert with over 35 years of in-the-trenches experience. As a serial entrepreneur in the health and wellness space, he is an owner, co-founder and Chief Development Officer of the largest Paleo conference in the world, Paleo f(x) . As well, Keith is a partner in one of the most innovative lines of boutique training studios in the nation, Efficient Exercise. He’s also a partner in ARXFit training equipment, and a founding member of ID Life. In his spare time, he authors one of the top fitness blogs in the health and wellness sphere, Theory To Practice.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.