#SameHere Celebs

Alliance Profile – Joe Hawley

Joe Hawley

Former American football center who played for the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Retiring after becoming a free agent in March 2018, Hawley took up van life, exploring the country with his dog, Freedom. 

What life events that you’ve experienced (could be minor, could be major), physical traumas, or genetic predispositions do you believe you went through, that may have had any type of impact on your ability to feel the healthiest you can feel from a mental health standpoint?

Like many, my biggest wounding revolved around my parents and upbringing. I didn’t have a rough childhood by any means, and I actually used to have some shame around that as well – ‘if my life wasn’t so hard, what do I have to complain about’ – but I did have experiences, as a young child, that shaped the lens in which I view reality – it’s called life – and that is where the real healing takes place.

I didn’t feel seen or heard by my parents and talking about our emotions was never a big part of our family dynamic. We held in what we felt which created an environment where I didn’t feel safe to express openly how I felt. This effected much of how I interacted with life, especially in my intimate relationships.

Over the last few years, I’ve been able to look deep into those stories and heal. Through many different healing modalities, tools and techniques I’ve been able to process, and see these experiences from a new perspective. This has allowed me to reconnect with my parents in a beautiful way.

In order to heal the world, we must first heal ourselves. I can see the change in my parents, however small, and it inspires me to know that my healing is their healing and their healing is my healing, and, we are all in this together. It all starts from within.

How did those events impact your state of mind and overall psyche?

I was filled with so much resentment and anger towards my parents. I wanted them to be something they weren’t. I had expectations. Now, I’ve been able to let that all go and love them where they are at, knowing that we are all doing the best we can in any given moment.

When and why did you decide to look for help to get relief from those feelings (or symptoms), if you did…or do you just look for coping mechanisms on your own?

After retiring from the NFL, I was forced to answer some big questions like: who am I without this thing that has defined me for so long. That is what started me on my healing journey. I wanted to know who I was without this story that I’d spent my entire life building up around me. It was one of the most challenging, and rewarding, experiences of my entire life. I know who I am now!

What practices have helped you individually feel the best you can (whether from outside help or on your own)?

First thing, it all starts with feeling good in my body through movement and nutrition. And then developing the tools like meditation and journalling. And then the most important aspect of it all, a strong community of other individuals on that path who listen openly and hold space for me to process my stories.

Why did you decide to share your story (whether previously or on this site for the first time)? Who were/are you hoping to help and how?

My passion now is to be of service to the former elite athlete community. Having gone through the experience of transitioning out of pro sports, I know that it comes with some really unique challenges. It’s a raw, vulnerable time but also a beautiful time to rebuild the identity of who we are and to show up and make a difference in the world in a big way.

How did people react when you shared your story of overcoming obstacles (if you’ve told it before)…if not, how do you think people will react now)?

The most beautiful part of being authentic and vulnerable is that is gives permission to others to do the same. That is where the world needs to go. That is how real healing takes place. 


Website: https://www.joe-hawley.com/

The Hart Collective– a community for like minded, high achieving former athletes to find purpose, develop skills, collaborate, and create a better world for themselves, their families and their communities.

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