See here’s the thing about self-esteem…it’s a choice. It really is as simple as saying to yourself “I am good enough” and then going about your business. I know it doesn’t feel that easy but it really is. No one else can affect your feelings of self-worth positively or negatively, they can influence you but the only person with the power over how you feel about yourself is YOU. The metaphor that Marc aka “Spud” uses is of a record player. Each day you get to choose what record you put on the record player to listen to. Most of us reach for the same old record every time and listen to it over and over again. Rarely do we step out and pick a new and exciting record to listen to. Most people sit and listen to the same records over and over: I am not good enough, I am not pretty enough, No one really likes me, If I was skinnier/stronger/more attractive/funnier people would like me. You can fill in the blank with what your record plays for you. These thoughts play on a loop in our heads and until we decide to change the record that is what we will continue to hear. By changing the record, choosing to listen to self affirmations instead of wallowing in records of self doubt, we can turn EVERYTHING around.
One of the reasons meditation works so well is that the goal is to see thoughts come at you and then watch them float away. Meditation teaches you not to attach to the negative thoughts. When you don’t attach to them, when you just watch them come at you and float away, you begin to realize that they only “stick” to you if you let them. Another practice that is helpful, one that my counselor taught me, is the practice of “Enoughism”. Enoughism is the idea that whatever you do or accomplish is enough. That you are enough. That as long as you are mindful about the way you lead your life, make the choices you think are the right ones and face the world boldly then that is ENOUGH. And it is ENOUGH for EVERYONE. If you are practicing “Enoughism” then it doesn’t matter if someone else (your mother or sibling or partner) doesn’t think that you are enough. They have no say. If you believe that you are doing it all as right as you can then no one else can say that you are not doing ENOUGH. Enough is your boundary not anyone else’s.
And see here’s the other thing about self-esteem: whatever it is that weighs on you, whatever nasty little voice is talking in your head or whatever record is playing ALMOST EVERYONE ELSE IS LISTEING TO THE SAME THING ABOUT THEMSELVES. Really, and it can be pretty surprising and affirming when you realize that. I have this friend. She is SUPER awesome. She is out-going, smart, bubbly, adorable, giggly. She is all the things that you are drawn to in a person. One day we were talking about something and I don’t know how it came up, but she said “I’m not very good in social situations where I have to make conversation. I think I am super awkward”. And I was like, “Um, nope, I would be the one who was super awkward, and you would be the one who always knows the right thing to say”. It was a moment of awakening for me and helped me understand that EVERYONE struggles with the same types of feelings.
Besides working on controlling my breathing, meditating and doing cardio (which empties my brain) I have two other mental exercises that I do to help me when feelings of self-doubt start to creep in.
- I physically look at myself in the mirror at least once a day and take it all in. I take in what I think are the good and the bad. I realize how much I love the parts of me that are good and I work to realize that the parts of me that I think are “bad” really, really aren’t as bad as I have perceived them. This is hard at first because you do all of this while making eye contact with your own self. Doing a soul gaze with yourself is pretty powerful and not a little uncomfortable.
- When I do something that feels awkward or embarrassing I acknowledge it, if I can. And then let it go. The other day I was talking to a client and I just kept stuttering. None of my words were coming out right and it was getting embarrassing. So, I stop and said “Wow, I don’t seem to be speaking well right now let me take a breath and start over”. Or if I say something that comes out wrong I will instantly own it. When you do that it helps you realize that these little hiccups are nothing important. Acknowledge them and then let them go.
If give these lessons to so many people of all ages. I am working with a client who is 65 years old and still can’t look at herself in the mirror. I have people close to me who would rather burn up in a fire than admit that they said or did something that was embarrassing. We have had people leave the gym because they were so ashamed that they weren’t as strong as some of our bigger guys. Confronting your feelings of self-worth and tackling your self-esteem is difficult but if you make baby steps it can make a huge difference in your daily life.
I am not feeling weight training right now, so I am doing just enough to get by. We have a lot going on in the business that requires my brain to work really hard. Whenever that happens I usually reserve my brain power for working which means I have very little for working out. I also have neglected to do hard cardio for the past few years while I focused on trying to accomplish something in powerlifting. But, hard cardio works well when I don’t have the brain power to use. I can just put on some music or a good book and go. My cardio of choice is running but I like to do different stuff to mix it up. Here is what I have done this week.
- Bodymaster Squat adding a band each set for 8 reps. I worked up to 3 average and 2 monster mini’s
- 2 mile Run/walk on treadmill. I walked a minute and ran a minute until I got the full 2 miles. It took 26 minutes. With the running I started at 5.5 and did that 2 times then increased to 5.6 for 2 minutes (etc…) until I ended with 6.0. My old 2 mile treadmill max speed was like 17 minutes. I would like to get back there.
- Kettlebell class – ladders with double cleans, double clean and press, and double snatch. 1 rep up to 5 reps. Repeat that ladder 3 times per exercise
- Bullshit upper body work – nothing spectacular
- Outside running: Run down and walk back (behind he building about 50 yards) 5 times to warm up. Then I ran around the whole complex once (about ¼ a mile). Then spring down/walk back 5 more times. Then I ran/walked the complex one more time. This took about 24 minutes. It was hotter than hell and I started to feel like I should go in, so I stopped.