Social media is flooded with inspirational quotes and motivational mantras. However, even when we are the ones sharing out or writing some of those, we too have our moments where we can really feel like whatever we’re doing, how hard we’re working, no matter who is giving us praise or credit for it–that it just isn’t enough. In fact, maybe that’s why we tend to look to social networks–or to other people in general–to give us approval for the what we’ve done. However, in the digital era, many of us may lack the time or patience to look introspectively more often and assess how we actually view ourselves for who we are.
I write about this topic because not only have I encountered some clients/athletes who have experienced similar situations, especially when they have started or have lost motivation (“fallen off” or “got off track”, etc.), but I have been plagued with a personal setback for several years of my life. I don’t know how to label it, nor would I “self-diagnose” it, but it’s just that feeling where you want to do everything to the best of your ability to achieve a goal, and you make plans, set goals, work towards it, revise it, work harder, reflect, repeat… and still feel like it’s not enough.
This is an excerpt from an anecdote from my own personal journey through introspection and developing “self-love”…
In high school, I was once so concerned about being over X lbs (due to puberty, I’m shorter, etc.,) that I tried to do almost everything I could to get back down to that number. It was actually a bit tragic and depressing. The number itself kept creeping upward. At a certain point, I finally just ignored it and stopped weighing myself. Just tried to “eat less” and “exercise more”. Despite my involvement in sports, I really did exercise MORE and eat little to nothing… Then, in college, it got even worse, after a breakup, a rough patch of time with being happy with myself and so on.. I began to look at pictures of myself in tears and disgust. I wanted to throw every piece of clothing I owned out, and I was just not in a good place.
Naturally, time had passed, and I hadn’t really been more positive with my body until I found ways to enjoy fitness: running, Zumba classes, spinning, Insanity… typically things that took my mind off of personal and emotional stressors. I started weightlifting when my significant other introduced me to what lifting weights looked like and then eventually, I started CrossFit in 2013. Things were looking up; I got a full-time job out of college, I started working out regularly, and I was in a fresh, happy and healthy relationship. A few months in, I didn’t realize how weak I was, even though I finally thought I was happy with my body, and I went back to feeling inadequate. Even until this day I’m always picking on my weaknesses rather than my accomplishments, and it’s always those who are my close friends, coaches, and loved ones who are reminding me that I am strong, I have made so many achievements in my fitness, and it’s still a process of being able to accept that. Looking back at old pictures, old results on workouts and lifts, and just some of my own journal entries has helped me cope with my feelings of inadequacy at times.
It’s been years since this all began in 8th grade/high school, and I’m finally leaning on the edge of being happy with myself. This time, I have new goals though. Instead of being a certain number, certain size, body “type” I’m focused more on my daily productivity, my strength, my speed, my fitness, my energy levels, my stress levels and as always–being happy with my body, my work, my impact on others and myself overall…
It’s a long haul when it comes to reaching our goals, but just try to remember what your real purpose is. Ask yourself “Why do I want to lose X amount of pounds?” “What is a realistic time frame for doing so?” “How can I make this a sustainable part of my life to produce long-term results?” “Am I happy doing this?” “Is there anything I could be doing differently, or need help with?”
I have a very soft spot in my heart for people who have shown and shared a glimpse of this shared feeling with me, that they too have felt inadequate. I’m learning that it’s a part of human nature, and that’s why we have each other: for encouragement, for support, for empathy, and for laughs when we need it. Though I’m someone who is still learning to develop self-love, I encourage those of you to take a few minutes this week to look away from your screens and devices, and look introspectively to ask yourself a few things:
•Why are you doing what you do day in and day out? What is your purpose?
•Are you happy with this? Are you happy with its outcomes, despite how big or small?
•What can I celebrate today that I wasn’t able to yesterday, or a year ago?
•What do you love about yourself?
I tell this to my students each year, but as your coach, I want to say the same to you:
I believe in you.
I trust in you.
You are listened to.
You are cared for.
You are important.
You will succeed.
You will succeed.