Feb. 3, 2021

Darren Waller's Comeback Story - Stop Giving Your Power Away to Other People

Darren Waller's Comeback Story - Stop Giving Your Power Away to Other People

Darren Waller (Las Vegas Raiders, tight end) delivers an incredible message in the inaugural episode of the Comeback Stories podcast and talks about his struggle with addiction and drugs and how his life story and struggle has transformed into his...


Darren Waller (Las Vegas Raiders, tight end) delivers an incredible message in the inaugural episode of the Comeback Stories podcast and talks about his struggle with addiction and drugs and how his life story and struggle has transformed into his most powerful asset. Learn how even an accomplished professional football player can struggle with doubt and anxiety, and why the story you tell yourself is the only one that matters. 

  • Growing up for Darren was confusing. He was blessed with a good family, a good neighborhood, intelligence, and athleticism, but he was always sensitive to the harsh words of other people.
  • Despite access to a number of resources, Darren found himself going down a dark path.
  • Darren grew up in suburban Atlanta, Georgia playing a number of sports with the friends he grew up with. His earliest memory of pain is being told that he wasn’t black enough by his peers. He adopted that as truth when he was younger and didn’t realize the pain that it would cause him throughout his life. Even now, Darren still struggles with doubt despite being one of the best players in the game.
  • Pain is part of the shared human experience. If you’re alive, you’re going to go through the pain and that is what connects us and is the essence of common humanity.
  • Darren’s first real teacher was his father. He saw the way his dad treated his mom and respected her, and that became the template for how Darren treated women in his own life.
  • In terms of balance, Darren understands that no matter how well things are going, they could get worse, and if things are going badly they will eventually get better.
  • The way that Darren’s father loved him is how Darren thinks about his other relationships and it allows him to live a better life because of it.
  • The feeling of not being good enough led to Darren trying to earn people’s approval by becoming better at football, and it was around that time that he started experimenting with drugs in an effort to escape the anxiety of trying to please people all the time.
  • As his football skills improved, Darren felt worse and worse internally. After becoming a pro athlete, instead of feeling better the anxiety and pain only got worse and his drug use increased exponentially.
  • The status and lifestyle were something he thought he wanted but none of it gave Darren happiness or peace. Darren ended up sabotaging his own success and getting suspended from the team. He had to go through the process of recovery and relearn the value of hard work before getting another chance at football a few years later.
  • The biggest thing holding Darren back was trying to get approval and respect from others before he showed it to himself. Other people’s approval was either making or breaking him and he had to shed that mindset to stop trying to fill the void inside himself with other people’s approval.
  • Darren’s lowest point was fourfold: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. It was August 11, 2017, when Darren overdosed in his Jeep. He had said that he had changed but his behaviors didn’t match the declaration. He ended up reliving all the pain he had been trying to mask in his life and that’s when he realized he had to change his life completely.
  • If you’re at your lowest point, you’re not alone. Darren had to stop telling himself that what makes him different is what is wrong with him.
  • The real story is what makes him different is what makes him special. He had to free himself from giving his power away to other people.
  • All that arises starts with our thoughts. You can train your mind to work with you instead of against you. Darren is grateful for his recovery because so much has come because of it. By surrendering all the things that he thought would make his life worth something, he has allowed himself to learn and grow in ways that weren’t possible before. All the things that Darren was afraid to talk about have become his greatest asset. Just because you’re striving for greatness that doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect.
  • Choose progress over perfection every day. Being authentic and sharing your story, complete with imperfections and mess, connects you more than trying to project a fake facade. Darren’s life used to consist of hiding nearly everything about him in the belief that it would make him feel free, but he’s done hiding.
  • As people, we tend to see others clearly but we’re not able to see ourselves very well. We need to be around other people that want the best for us and who are willing to guide us when we need it. If you’re not addressing your fear you’re going to keep getting the same results in your life.
  • Look at your pain and fear and figure out what it’s teaching you. In the depths of his addiction, Darren’s greatest fear was having other people see him the way he saw himself. He bent his life around making sure that other people told him what he wanted to hear instead of what he needed to hear.
  • Fear is now an opportunity for Darren to trust himself and his belief that he’s doing the right thing.
  • Fear is now an opportunity to be the best he can be. We’re all recovering from something right now.
  • We all have a comeback story within us, and sometimes we have to change our story to make something new happen.