The Secret To Success

I’ve been extremely successful in many areas of my life.

  • I’m Ivy League educated (every Indian parent’s dream). I hold dual master’s degrees from Hofstra University (Special Education) and Columbia University (Social Work).
  • I’m the daughter of Indian immigrant parents which is pretty huge (just ask any Brown person you know 🙂
  • I’m a vegetarian chef. I’m a graduate of The Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts in Austin, TX, where I pursued my lifelong dream of nourishing people’s bodies and minds. My dad and I competed in The Food Network’s Food Truck Face Off, strutting our skills and working our butts off to create yummy Indian edibles from love. It was not only fun, it solidified my desire to bring food into the “delicious living” conversation.
  • I’m an Ayurveda enthusiast. I spent two months in India to return to my roots and study Ayurveda Therapy and Nutrition. I now incorporate facets of Ayurveda into my way of life and it’s another valuable modality that I use to help heal myself and those around me.
  • I’m a best-selling author. My book, a collaboration with Sandra Yancey, Marcia Wieder, Lisa Sasevich and Lisa Nichols, called Succeeding in Spite of Everything, is a best-seller. I also have blogged and written for some of the coolest sites on the cyber web.
  • I’ve been on countless podcasts. I absolutely love using my voice to help inspire others. If you google “Vasavi Kumar podcast interview” you’ll find a ton of shows that I’ve been on
  • I’m regularly seen on TV. I was on VH1’s Basketball Wives, was the resident “Keeping It Real Guru” on Kansas City Live, where I answered viewers’ questions on topics like the stuff that holds them back or how to deal with mean people. I love answering all the juicy questions! I’m also on Good Day Austin from time to time (where I now live)
  • I’m a former radio show host. My show, Deep Talk, featured some of today’s most celebrated and respected leaders. I have had the honor and pleasure of interviewing change agents like John Gray, Neale Donald Walsch, Ali Brown, Lisa Nichols, and Sonia Choquette.
     

My life is one where I’m satisfied (most of the time). People instantly trust me which is by far one of the greatest gifts I can give to someone. I have made a living doing meaningful work that I’m good at, and I truly believe I can do anything.

There’s a secret to my outward and inward success. Many of our favorite celebrities, artists, and singers share this secret, but not many people will ever come out and talk about it.

One thing though

You can’t learn it but you may have experienced it personally or might already have some form of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The secret…

Depression.

Specifically, I have lived with bipolar disorder (aka manic-depression) for 15 years.

While depression has one side to it, bipolar disorder has extreme highs and lows and is an imbalance in the brain’s ability to underproduce and overproduce dopamine (can you tell I’m kind of a science geek?). For the purposes of this article, I’m going to focus on depression.

I live 50% of my life in doubt and the other 50% having extremely grandiose expectations of myself (most of which I fulfill). Sometimes I feel like I can’t even breathe because the gaping hole inside of me is tearing me from the inside out. Or many times, I’m just emotionally numb and can’t feel a thing because the pain is too much for me to handle.

I’ve been in therapy weekly, take medication daily, grew up in a Hindu household where spirituality and prayer was a given, live a vegetarian lifestyle, move my body and have been very fortunate to receive life’s blessings and be able  to give it back.

But there are many a times where I have woken up from my sleep, completely paralyzed, unable to get up at the weight of my own power and strength. It’s hard to describe but if you have gone through this yourself, then I know you get it,

Some of the most beloved artists of our time have lived with and continue to live with some form of depression.

  • (the late) Robin Williams
  • Ashley Judd
  • Catherine Zeta-Jones
  • Demi Lovato
  • (the late) Heath Ledger
  • Tipper Gore
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Angelina Jolie 

Here’s the contradiction

How you feel on the inside often has very little to do with how your life looks from the outside. You can have all the “success” in the world and still feel like a huge piece of nothingness and life’s greatest failure (dramatic but true). You can come from a big family, have a ton of friends, 30K Instagram followers and feel the empty gaping hole of loneliness when you’re by yourself (or worse even when you’re around others).

It’s not easy to talk about.

If it was, don’t you think we would be a bit more connected with each other and ourselves?

Here’s what it’s hard to talk about. If you pretty much have your basic needs met and have a job, car, house, food on the table, and not much to “complain” about, then when you try to share how you’re feeling, you’re just going to get everyone around you telling you how happy and grateful you should be.

As if providing a logical counter argument to your sadness will make it better and OK.

Guess what?

Sometimes, IT’S NOT OK and there’s no logical reason behind why you feel the way you that you do.

I am the Queen of Logic and that’s pretty much how I talked my way out of feeling anything my entire life. It makes you wonder how I get through life despite everything huh? Trust when I say that it is easy to do when you don’t allow yourself to feel any pain.

If you had high blood pressure, you would be advised to reduce your stress, and eat better, exercise right? People would try to understand and see if you need anything. But with depression, most people haven’t got a clue how to help so they try to tell you there isn’t a problem.

You should 100% talk about it. I think we all need to as a society. And if you personally do not suffer from depression, I’m pretty sure you have someone in your family or close friends who do.

So here’s the secret

One of the best things that has come from acknowledging my own depression, pain, and how I feel is that I know myself better than anyone else. I have a deep understanding of myself, I know exactly why and how my depression will come to surface, and I also know how this directly relates to my creative endeavors and anything I set out to do.

What if you knew yourself so well that you never again told yourself  “I can’t” because you knew that you would and could get through anything?

My depression, success, and creative nature all from the same source. They’ve come from two character traits that I believe are so deeply entrenched in every fiber of my being.

Here goes

  1. I have extremely obsessive thoughts

Whenever I get depressed, it’s because I literally have a tape of the same string of thoughts set to repeat in my brain. I can’t eat, I’m numb, I definitely can’t sleep, I feel like I’m dragging my feet and everything I “need” to do is a chore that I would much rather not be doing. If you were to ask me how I’m doing I would answer with, “I’m doing great!” but on the inside I’m a mess. .

Yet, for some reason, obsessing over my thoughts feels like a way better place to be, though one would have to ask, ”Why on Earth would you focus on thoughts that cause you so much pain?”

I have no idea. I don’t ever wish anyone has to go through that. But, what I’ve learned and harnessed throughout my 15 years of being officially “diagnosed” is that when harnessed, those same obsessive thoughts focused and directed an action, are THE SOURCE of every single thing I have ever achieved.

For example, when I decide to write a blog post, I will sit with an idea for a few days  and think about it in the shower, on the toilet, in the car, make notes, and when I’m ready, I will sit and bust it out (kind of like this one). I will take days if I have to until it meets my expectations of what I think it good enough to be put out into the world.

2. I have an extremely high sense of belief in myself

I have had to learn the beautiful balancing act between belief in myself and expectations. Both are high. And there is a slight difference between the two.

My expectations of myself can VERY easily cause a deep depression because there is this constant gnawing of “I can do better.” Often times, it’s me knowing I could have done more. That feeling of knowing is an instant depression trigger. It feels like a ton of breaks. And it being a burden doesn’t even begin to describe the weight of having a high sense of self-expectation.

On the other hand, I define self-belief as me not even THINKING I can’t do something. It doesn’t even cross my mind that I can’t do something. Can’t simply does not exist in my mind. It’s the deep knowing that I can handle anything thrown my way. It’s knowing that I AM the calm that exists within the chaos. It’s my ability to say to myself, “I don’t care whether I succeed or fail, either way I inherently trust in myself that I will be OK.” It’s the kind of faith that I have had that allows me to see past the bullshit and delusional stories that we tell ourselves. It doesn’t even occur to me that I can’t do something. It’s liberating and terrifying all at the same time to have that much belief in myself.

Combined, I can lean anywhere towards, pain, action, confidence, creativity, or lethargy.

I have found my ways of training my mind and I would never ever tell you how you should deal with your own pain or depression. But, I will say that holding it inside will only exacerbate your feelings.

As always, you can post your comments below, share your story with me via email, or set up time to chat here if you want a customized approach in working with me.

How you feel matters. Please know that.

Love,

Vasavi