“The most important thing to me is, how, in the process of learning how to use my body, can I come to understand myself?” ~Bruce Lee
I love this quote. I’ve learned so much about myself by learning how to take care of myself.
That quote showed up on my Facebook feed the same day that this picture came up – twice. I’m having a very strong negative reaction to it.
I understand the message. The number shouldn’t matter. But when the “old me” read stuff like this, I interpreted it to mean that my self worth was based on how others perceived me. Was I nice? Was I kind? Was I smart? Was I funny? Was I loved? Nothing wrong with those questions, but they are approval seeking kinds of questions – approval from the outside – not the inside. If on any day, the answer to one of those questions was “no” – I felt a little empty inside. I’d replay a situation in my head on the drive home. And then I’d medicate with food. And when the number on my scale was 198 – well that was just insult added to injury. Didn’t matter to me how many people told me the “number is just a number” and it wouldn’t matter to me how many cute motivational sayings were written on the scale. I felt like crap. That physical feeling influenced my moods. I was not happy. I did not share happiness. I did not laugh. Anyone reading this who knew me then, knows this is true. So no – it wasn’t about the number – it was about how I felt. The crap food I ate, the lack of exercise, the stress – all of those things were much more important than the number. No pep talk about my self-worth was going to change anything as long as I felt like crap.
My self worth was never based on a number. The number was a symptom of my emptiness and lack of health. My self worth was based on what other people thought of me. I was approval seeking. I was defined by my reflection – not in the mirror – but in people.
“People” = husband,friends, my students, collegues, administrators, parents, recognition like awards… (We don’t have kids. And I don’t have elderly parents to care for. So I stipulate that being a care giver changes things. But it seems to me that care givers need to take care of themselves because others are depending on them.)
A couple of new reflections changed my life and they happened simulataneously.
First reflection: I’ve always had a relationship with God, but I didn’t really understand forgiveness. When I started this fitness journey, I did some spiritual reflection, too. I learned from smarter people than me who understood forgiveness. I didn’t realize that I’m already forgiven. Like everyone, I was born perfect and the body I was given was a miraculous thing. Life is a miraculous thing – and I’ve already been forgiven and loved by my Creator. As I grew older, I didn’t take care of my body or my life. I poisoned the gift. God created me and I took it for granted.
Second reflection: I used my approval seeking habit in a different way. I sought the approval of new people who would help me reach my goals. I needed these new people with new perspectives in my life. Still approval seeking, yes, but healthier. Most of the new people have become great friends. One turned out to be not a real friend, but still helped me despite his motives. So I’ve made about a dozen new friends, a couple of super wonderful new friends, and only one jerk in the bunch. I’m very grateful for that.
I know my husband gets a little frustrated that I’m not doing a lot of stuff around the house – but I love him and I love any time we spend together no matter what we are doing. I know that my boss is frustrated that I’m not doing this or that…but my students are learning. So I’ve learned that the world will not stop spinning if I’m at the gym. I’ve learned that even though I feel like I’m being selfish, I’m actually contributing something new that I didn’t expect. I know a few of my students are eating healthier. I know a few of my friends are exercising more. If what I’m doing causes a few more houses to be less tidy – well so be it. I can live with that.
I give everyone permission to be a little selfish. Chase a dream. Take care of the life God gave you. What you think is “selfish” may just be the path He wants you to take.