Can’t Hurt Me
by David Goggins
- Personal Development
- Ashto =
- Jonesy =
Do you know who you really are and what you’re capable of? Don’t worry you are not alone. In every town, country all over the world, millions roam the streets. Dead-eyed zombies addicted to comfort, embracing the victim’s mentality and unaware of their true potential. Like most of us, David Goggins used to be one of them
Life dealt him a bad hand. He was born broken, grew up with beat downs, tormented at school and copped racism more times than he could count. He was poor, surviving on welfare, living in government subsidy housing and had smothering depression. He lived life at the bottom of the barrel, with a future forecast bleak.
After looking at the accountability mirror, Goggins went through a transformation into becoming one of the baddest men on the planet. He has found how to push past the perceived limits our minds put on us. By pushing yourself to new limits, maybe you can also find out what you’re truly capable of.
Heraclitus a philosopher born in the Persian empire in the 5th century BC once said: “Out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be here, 80 are just targets, 9 are real fighters and we are lucky to have them. Ah but the one, one is the warrior”
‘Can’t Hurt Me’ is a lesson in how you can become a warrior.
David Goggin’s Story
Goggins grew up in 1981 in Williamsville, in a high-class place in Buffalo NY. It was leafy and friendly, doctors, attorneys, steel plant executives, dentists, football players and their wives with 2.2 kids. Cars were new, roads swept and possibilities were endless. But this was a different story for Goggins family.
The daily ‘family dinner’ was a bullshit facsimile compared to what most families had. There was no time to enjoy because at 7pm, when the doors opened, it was show time and all had to be in place with stations prepped. Trunnis, the dad was the sheriff. He scanned the room like an all seeing eye and if you fucked up you’d hear about it. Unless you felt it first.
At school, the hardest part was hiding. He couldn’t let the shirt slip, couldn’t wear shorts. Bruises were red flags he couldn’t show because if he did, he’d get more. But school was the one place he couldn’t be reached physically.
It was a regular occurrence. He remembers the words “this belt came all the way from texas to whip you”. He then started swinging at Goggins’ mum, buckle first
Some nights she fought back. And those nights he kicked the door down and backhanded her hard. One night her head slamming against the wall and losing consciousness.
At school, David was labelled ‘Special’. They all know what that means. It means you are not normal. And he developed a stutter over night. He was the only black kid in the class and also the dumbest. He was suffering from toxic stress. The type of abuse he was subject to has loads of side effects. Depression, heart disease, obesity, cancer, smoking, alcoholism and drug abuse. Those raised in abusive households are 53% more likely to go to jail.
Goggins history determined his future, in the beginning. In his junior year went out of his way to piss people off by becoming the exact stereotype racist white people loathed and feared. He wore pants below his ass every day. He ghetto wired his car stereo to house speakers. He rattled windows cruising down the main drag blasting Snoop Dog’s Gin and Juice. He had fuzzy dice hanging in the rear view.
Everything he did was to get a reaction out of the people who hated him most because everyone’s opinion of him mattered to him and that’s a shallow way to live. He was in real pain, no purpose and it looked like he gave up on any chance of success. But he had one more dream left: to enter the air force.
That night, after taking a shower, he wiped steam away from the bathroom mirror and took a good look. He didn’t like who was staring back. He was a low budget thug with no purpose or future. He felt so disgusted he wanted to punch that motherfucker in the face and shatter the glass. Instead, he lectured him. It was finally time to get real
His personal dialogue began:
Look at you “why do you think the air force wants your punk ass”. You are one dumb mother fucker. You read like a third-grader, you’re a fucking joke. You never tried hard at anything in your life besides basketball, and you have goals? You don’t see people in the military sagging their pants. They don’t talk like a wannabe gangster. It was a spontaneous venting session “Yeah I know shit is fucked up. I know what you’ve been through. I was there bitch! Merry fucking Christmas”
By the time he was done talking, he looked different. A new ritual was born and stayed with him for years. It would help him get the grades up, get into shape and send him through graduation in the air force.
The Accountability Mirror
It is what he now calls the accountability mirror. Because each day, you can look at it and hold yourself accountable to the goals you set. It is useful for anyone at any stage in life. You could be on the cusp of retirement, looking to reinvent yourself. Maybe you’re going through a bad break up or have gained weight
In each case, that negativity you’re feeling is your internal desire for change. But change doesn’t come easy. Goggins had blown off his accountability his entire existence and actually thought he was getting over on the system
If you look in the mirror and see a fat person, don’t tell yourself to lose a couple of pounds.Tell the truth – you’re fucking fat! It’s ok, just say you’re fat if you’re fat. The dirty mirror is going to tell you the truth every time so stop lying to yourself. You can feel better for a few minutes and stay the same
If you’ve worked for 30 years doing the same shit you’ve hated day in and day out because you were afraid to quit and take a risk, you’ve been living like a pussy. Period, point black. Tell yourself the truth! That you’ve wasted enough time, and that you have other dreams you’d like to realise. So don’t be a fucking pussy. Call yourself out!
Nobody likes to hear the hard truth. Individually and as a culture, we avoid what we need to hear the most. This world is fucked up and there are major problems for our society.
There is no more time to waste. Hours and days evaporate like creeks in a desert. That’s why its ok to be cruel to yourself as long as you realise you’re doing it to become better. We all need thicker skin to improve in life. Being soft when you look in the mirror isn’t going to inspire the wholesale change we need to shift our present and open our future.
The morning after Goggins did the accountability mirror, he trashed the fuzzy dice, tucked in his shirt, wore his pants with a belt, stopped eating at his lunch table. For the first time, being liked and acting cool were a waste of his own time. Instead of eating with the popular kids, he found his own table and ate alone.
His transformation from a 300 pound drop kick into one of the baddest mother fu*ckers on the planet had begun
Throughout a career of toughening up, Goggins teaches 3 strategies in Can’t Hurt Me.
The 3 Strategies Of Hardening (Goggins Style)
Defiance isn’t always the best way to take someone’s soul. It all depends on your terrain. Know the terrain you’re operating in, when and where you can push boundaries, and when you should fall in line. Next take inventory of your mind and body on the eve of battle. List out your insecurities and weakness, as well as your opponent’s. For instance if you’re getting bullied, you can laugh at yourself and them, which disempowers them. If you take what they do or say less personally, they no longer hold any cards. Feelings are feelings.
In the same way, if you are up against a competitor for a promotion and you know where you fall short, you can shape up your game ahead of your interview or evaluation. In that scenario, laughing at your weaknesses won’t solve the problem. You must master them. In the meantime, if you are aware of your competitors vulnerabilities you can spin those to your advantage.
Once you’re in the heat of battle, it comes down to staying power. If it’s a difficult physical challenge, you will probably have to defeat your own demons before you can take your opponent’s soul. That means rehearsing answers to the simple question: “why am I here?”. If you know that moment is coming and have your answer ready, you will be equipped. Know why you’re in the fight!
Choose any competitive situation that you’re in right now. Who is your opponent? Is it your teacher, or coach, your boss, an unruly client? No matter how they’re treating you there is one way to not only earn respect, but turn the tables
If it’s a boss, work around the clock. Get to work before them. Leave after they go home. Make sure they see that shit, and when its time to deliver, surpass maximum expectations. Whoever you’re dealing with, your goal is to make them watch you achieve what they could have never done themselves. Take their negativity and use it to dominate their task with everything you’ve got. Take their motherfucking soul.
When you look back, you can float through memory files. You can tap into the emotional state of those victories. The cookie jar can be a concept. We all have a cookie jar inside of us because life, being what it is, has always tested us
Don’t crawl up your own ass and bore friends with all your stories about what a badass you used to be. Nobody wants to hear that shit. Its about utilizing past successes to fuel you to new and bigger ones. Because in the heat of battle, when shit gets real, we need to draw inspiration to push through our own exhaustion, depression, pain and misery. We need to spark a bunch of small fires to become a motherfucking inferno.
After you push your limits so far, you have to ask the question. “What am I capable of?”. We habitually settle for less than our best, at work, in school, in our relationships and on the playing field or racecourse. We settle as individuals and we teach our children to settle for less than their best and all that ripples out, merges and multiplies within our communities and society as a whole.
You might think Goggins is a mess. But he’s not down for the prevailing mentalities that tend to dominate the American society today. The ones that tell us to go with the flow or invite us to learn how too get more with less effort. Fuck the short cut bullshit. The reason he embraces his own obsessions and demand and desire more of himself is because when you learn to push beyond pain and suffering, perceived limitations. That you’re capable of accomplishing more, physically and mentally. In endurance races, but life as a whole
And the same is true for you. The human body is like a stock car. We may look different on the outside, but under the hood we all have huge reservoirs of potential and a governor impeding us from reaching maximum velocity. In a car, the governor limits the flow of fuel and air so it doesn’t burn too hot. Which places a ceiling on performance. It’s a hardware issue. The governor can be removed, and if disabled, watch your car rocket past 130 mph
Its a subtle process the human animal. Our governor is buried deep in our minds, intertwined with our very identity. It knows what and who we love and hate, it has read our whole life story and sees how we see ourselves and how we’d like to be sen. It’s the software that delivers personalized feedback – in the form of pain and exhaustion. But also fear and insecurity and it uses all of that to encourage us to stop before we risk it all
But here’s the thing. It doesn’t have absolute control. Unlike the governor in the engine, ours can’t stop us unless we buy into its bullshit and agree to quit
Sadly, most of us give up when we’ve only given around 40% of our maximum effort. Even when we feel like we’ve reached our absolutely limit, we’ve got 60% more to give. That’s the governor in action! Once you know that to be truth, it’s simply a matter of stretching your pain tolerance, letting go of your identity and all your self limiting stories, so you can get to 60%. Then 80% and beyond without giving up. This is the 40% rule
The 40% rule can be applied to anything. Because in life almost nothing will turn out exactly as we hope. There are always challenges, and whether we are at work, or school, or feeling tested within our most intimate or important relationships. We will all e tempted to walk away from commitments, give up on goals and dreams and sell our own happiness short at some point. Because we will feel empty, like we have no more to give up, when we haven’t tapped even half of the treasure buried deep in our minds, hearts and souls
I know how it feels to be approaching an energetic dead end. There is always the temptation to sell short. But the desire and impulse is driven by your mind’s desire for comfort and its not telling you the truth. It’s your identity trying to find sanctuary for greatness or seeking wholeness
But the software update that you need to shut your governor down is no supersonic download. It takes 20 years and 20 years of experience. The only way to move beyond 40% is to callous your mind. Day after day. Which means you’ll have to chase pain like its your day job!
Nobody taps their reserve 60% right away or all at once. The first step is to remember that your initial blast of pain and fatigue is your governor talking. Once you do that, you are in control of the dialogue in your mind. And you can remind yourself that you are not as drained as you think. That you haven’t given it your all. Not even close. Buying into that will keep you in the fight. And that’s worth the extra 5%.
We are the sum of all the obstacles we overcome. There isn’t time to waste. No time to hit snooze on the life clock because there is always something else to do. If you work a 20 hour day, work out and sleep for 3
In this life, there are countless trails to self-realization. Though most demand intense discipline, so very few take them. In South Africa, the San people dance for 30 hours straight as a way to commune with the divine. In Tibet, pilgrims rise and kneel, then stretch out face down, in a ritual of prostratoin for weeks and months. In Japan, some Zen monks run 1000 marathons in 1000 days in a quest to find enlightenment through pain and suffering
Enlightenment is a big call, but Goggins is saying that pain does 100% unlock a secret doorway in the mind. One that leads to peak performance. At first when you push beyond your perceived capability your mind won’t shut the fuck up about it. It wants you to stop so it sends you into a spin cycle of panic and doubt
Which only amplifies your self-torture. But when you persist past that point that painfully saturates your mind. You become single-pointed. The external world zones out. Boundaries dissolve and you feel connected to yourself and to all things, in the depth of your soul.
The Buddha said life is suffering. To exist in the world, we must contend with humiliation, broken dreams, sadness and loss. That’s just nature. Each specific life comes with its own personalized portion of pain. It’s coming for you. You can’t stop it. In response, most of us are preprogrammed to seek comfort as a way to numb it all out and cushion the blows.
We carve out safe spaces. We consume media that confirms our beliefs. We take up hobbies that align with our talents. We try to spend as little time doing the tasks we loathe and that makes us soft.
We live a life defined by the limits we imagine and desire for ourselves because its comfortable as hell in that box. The limits we reach and accept define us. But for some, those limits start to feel like bondage. Our imagination can jump those walls and make the dreams feel attainable.
Because most dreams are. We are inspired to make changes, little by little and it hurts. Breaking the shackles is hard fucking work.
We live in a world with a lot of insecure, jealous people. Some of them are our best friends. They are blood relatives. Failure terrifies them. Because when we transcend,
From the time you take your first breath, you become eligible to die. You also become eligible to find your greatness and become the One Warrior. But it is up to you to equip yourself for the battle ahead. Only you can master your mind. Which is what it takes to live a bold life filled with accomplishments most people consider beyond their capability.