Yesterday I wrote some thoughts out on Facebook which I thought might be worth fleshing out a bit.
In recent months, I’ve heard quite a few others talking about how fitness no longer comes easy. It feels much more like a chore than it used to, but there’s a regret or a sadness about that loss. Like it was a trap they never wanted to find themselves caught by.
They often mention that they used to be fitter, leaner, and training used to be fun.
As a result you spend your energy comparing yourself with your old self, and with others who have the enthusiasm you once did. It feels horrible. You wish you could go back and do something differently so you didn’t end up down the road you’re on now.
You’re also torn: you recognise the challenges you’ve dealt with that knocked you out of your stride, and you see the pattern you’re in has to do with other priorities taking up the energy you used to give to training. You got sick, you lost someone, you had to work longer or irregular hours, you had a baby. Yet somehow those feelings of regret still linger.
What you’re feeling is shame.
You feel like how you look tells the world something about you. If you look amazing, you carry more armour to shield you from being looked down on, or shamed for “not caring about yourself”. You know, because fitness and appearance are two true measures of a persons value. HA! Well they have kind of become that.
And you’ve drank the Koolade, too. Yet you resent it.
This is the point when I get intrigued. We are in conflict with ourselves.
You scream from inside your less fit self “I’m still worth something”. But you’re turned the other way, still looking back in time, longing for the day when you can “look the part” again.
That’s what I’ve wrestled with for the last 3 years. I looked the part, I did badass things, and it gave me a false sense of my own value. In fact, my whole life the majority of things I’ve heard are about how I look. And I bought it. I think being married to Jonathan has helped me see myself as more than face or a body, because he loves my soul. But there has still been times (usually when I’m feeling down and lost) that I’ve craved approval for looking fit and being a badass. It usually manifests as harsh criticism for NOT looking “that way” anymore.
I’ve come to an understanding with myself. It hasn’t been easy, and lots of inner discussions went on as I figured out this stuff. But it boiled down to one way of thinking being destructive, and misaligned with my values, and the other way of thinking is kind, fair, and aligned with my true values. It’s not only constructive to myself, but totally consistent with the encouragement, and kindness I show others.
What I’ve learned is the power of forgiveness.
There is no greater power than that. It fuels courage, compassion, and peace. It allows you to be unburdened and more present. It helps you focus outward and reconnect with humanity; with others’, because you’ve made peace with your own.
Life isn’t about enjoying everything all the time. Life isn’t about linear progress, or reaching perfection. And your value is not dependent on your looks, your job, your bank balance, your friends list, or even how morally good people think you are. Unfortunately this is so counter-intuitive it seems like a fairytale. Sure you can increase your human capital, but deep down we all sense there is more to humanity than that. For me, I believe everyone’s soul holds equal value to God. So much so that His greatest weapon against all that stands between us is forgiveness.
The more you can forgive your own deficits, the less you feel owed, and the wider your wings will spread. The less you get held back by shame, the more you can reach others.
The mistake we make is thinking “the way” is back to some idealized moment in time, not realising the game we’re still playing. We still buy that our happiness is tied to regaining what we think we lost, or getting something we lack.
But what if “the way” is simply allowing yourself to go forward despite what you perceive you’re lacking.
You’re owed nothing because you have everything I need.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9