The Consequence of Insecurities: What's Not So Obvious

 
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Insecurities are a silent killer. It’s perfectly normal to have them and I have yet to meet anyone without them, so the presence of insecurities would likely not alarm anyone, nor I, but the more I observe myself, the more I see how normalized insecurities have become. Insecurities are what has hurt me in fulfilling my truest potential. Online resources and the billion-dollar self-help industry can attest to the prominence of insecurities, so I’ve never felt abnormal in possessing insecurities. In fact, psychologists can attest that insecurities are a normal part of human development. To some degree I would say yes, but what if insecurities are so inescapable that it inhibits one from moving forward with anything. Yes, humans are prone to insecurities, but the normalization of its existence is what had inhibited me to think there wasn’t another way.

For a while, knowing how normal insecurities are allowed me to let my insecurities dictate my life. What I didn’t think about was the degree of my insecurities and how it inhibited my actions. I used to think outside circumstances or the situation I am in was what was stopping me from being able to feel, be, or do certain things but I realize now that the contribution to these internalized limitations are in fact a mirror to my exaggerated insecurities. My limitations are not concrete. My limitations are not what’s actually stopping me from doing things, but rather I am harnessing unhealthy levels of insecurities which translates into fear and therefore inhibits me from taking actions. I therefore also have stopped myself from optimizing on my own potential. Doesn’t that sound silly?

Looking out from within, it’s easy to see why blaming external factors becomes the coping mechanism of choice (like blaming genetics or blaming circumstance); a sort of denial and aversion to accepting my own autonomy in my actions. Also, another convincing factor to blame something other than myself is that blaming something else shifts the responsibility away from myself. Of course, I am not saying that there aren’t realities that aren’t happening around me which are beyond my control, nor am I saying that there are certain unarguable limitations (like how humans can’t fly-- though humans did invent airplanes and rockets), nor is the outside world completely passive in shaping my actions. What I am highlighting is how I tend to only attribute limitations to external factors before giving room to contemplate my insecurities which are contributing to the limitation I encounter.

Most limitations, for example like “I can’t move to a new city” or “I can’t start a new routine” are all created limitations. It is not true that I can’t do either of these things if I wanted to, which is therefore different to how I can’t fly without a machine assisting me. This fact alone has been a monumental awakening, as I never thought the responsibility to breakdown these inhibiting limitations was within my autonomy. Upon closer observation, my conclusion is that most of the limitations I encounter are in fact created due to my own insecurities. I’ve somehow managed to go through life allowing these created limitations to trap me in my own reality. I forget that the truth of my experience lies in my mind and if I believe I can’t do something, then that’s the truth that will play out.

This is what I’ve struggled through over the years. I’ve struggled by creating limitations in my mind which aren’t actually true. I’ve struggled to take action because of these created limitations and when I look back at my life, I do admit, I sometimes feel regret at the missed opportunities I feel I’ve let gone by. I had allowed limitations and fear dictate how I lived my life and looking back, I no longer want to life that way. I still sometimes lie awake fearful of what tomorrow will bring. I am fearful that I will live a meaningless life. I am fearful I will miss critical opportunities in my personal and professional life. I lie in bed thinking about how insignificant my life feels today and how it may stay the same tomorrow. All these struggles are struggles I still live with, but what I’ve come to realize is how these limitations only exist in my mind.

The liberating truth about all the work that I’ve done over the years on myself and the research I’ve done on this matter is that I now I know that I have the power to change my truth. I have the power to change my reality. I have the power to breakdown my insecurities. I know that it takes serious effort to change and stop myself from inhibiting my own potential, but the light at the end of the tunnel is that I know I can change. That change is possible, that change can happen, that change is within my control, and that change is the responsibility I have to myself. My fixation on limitations due to my insecurities has held me captive for so long, but I now know it only has power over my actions if I allow it.

Jumping out off the corporate world and becoming a full time fitness professional and starting my blog was and is still one of the scariest endeavors I have undertaken. I have no idea where life will take me, but I am optimistic about what the future holds because I am now aware of the power insecurities has over my actions. I now place a lot of effort in debunking my own insecurities as I want to live a life free from regret and what ifs. I want to continue to take actions towards my dreams and ambition and I will continue to work on releasing myself from the captivity of my insecurities; that alone, I know, is a journey that’ll take a lifetime.

 

The Mental Game

 
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More, more, more, and more. We live in a world of more! More is better, harder is better, longer is better, etc. What’s left in the back seat is what seems to be an old age mantra of finding balance, whether in life or in the pursuit towards health and wellness. In the realm of more, it is important to highlight that fitness is not just about packing on the weights and clocking in more hours. Fitness is as much a mental game as it is physical. I believe the way to optimize the value of the journey towards a healthier self is to first outline a mental framework in which to operate from.

# 1 - The Give & Take Mentality.

The combination of life, humans, the world, the universe, and all else in it equals to a concoction of imperfection, but that’s what’s beautiful about my day to day. What I am sure of is that in my pursuit towards health and wellness, I can’t and never will be 100% perfect; nor am I trying or saying I am close to perfect. The only thing I hold myself responsible to is in being honest in my approach. How much am I willing to give and how much can I take?

The give and take mentality is like a pros and cons list for my journey towards health and wellness. This is where I outline (in my head-- but if writing down a list helps you, then go for it) the wins and compromises in my journey. For example, I know alcohol (as much as I wish I can)  is something that’s unrealistic for me to give up forever, but in contrast, something like sugary drinks is more realistic for me to give up forever. I almost never drink sodas (unless it’s the only drink available), I never add sugar to tea or coffee,  I never add sweetener to my morning smoothies and whenever I have a choice, I’ll go for the non-sugary mixer (like a vodka soda instead of a cranberry vodka). But, there are those out there, who will find giving up alcohol comes much more naturally. The point I am making here is, there’s no one solution fits all. It’s about being realistic with my choices because after all I still need to enjoy my life. What I keep asking myself is, what am I willing to give and how much can I take? There’s no point in going through life with an endless list of restrictions because that will drive anyone crazy.

# 2 -  Restrictions aren’t a way to live.

When we think of losing weight or getting fit a lot of people (I admit I was one of these people), gravitate towards rules and restrictions: “I have to cut sugar out completely,” “I have to work out at high intensities at least 5 days a week,” “I can only eat low sodium foods,” and let’s be honest the list goes on and on. If there are so many new rules to follow, then do I need to add, “remember to enjoy life,” as part of the guide to a better me? But, I hope to never get to a point where I need to be reminded to appreciate my life.

The bombardment of misleading messaging of more equals to better which is so prevalent in the diet and the fitness industries does leave a lot of confusion! The truth of the matter is, health and wellness is not about temporary unrealistic rules (that will only be kept for a couple months at best), rather health and wellness is about creating long-term parameters that will help steer life in a different direction forever. There’s a huge difference between saying, “I have to cut sugar out completely,” to “I will have less sugar by avoiding sugary drinks and sugary treats.” The difference is in the words and the specificity on how to frame the behavior.

Let’s dive into this a little more. “Cut out” versus “less” and “avoid” are similar, but very different words. The former is a strict command that leaves no room for error, while the latter two words allow for imperfection (i.e. allows us to be more human in our approach). It might seem like a small difference, but it completely changed how I responded to slip ups. Rather than feeling guilt and blaming myself for not sticking to my rule, I respond with a lot more understanding and an attitude that’s more forgiving like, “do better next time.” The unexpected reality was how once I alleviated the restrictive mentality, it was much easier to make better choices for myself.

What’s ironic about how my mind operated was that the more I had a hard no and restricted myself, the more I thought about it and the more chances I relapsed. But, when I shifted my thinking to a more forgiving space, it was much easier for me to follow the ‘rule’.

# 3 - Listen to your body

This might seem obvious, but working at a gym and also going through overtraining syndrome myself woke me up to how difficult it actually is to listen to my body. The prevalent culture in today’s fitness world encourages us to work harder than ever before, this is why the phrase “no days off” has become so popular; with over 4.5 million hashtags on Instagram. The truth of the matter is, rest days are so important to our fitness journey because at rest are when muscles grow and regenerate. Without rest, muscles will be fatigued and development will either be slowed or halted.

What I need to remember to do is to ask myself: how am I doing? If the answer is, I am tired because I didn’t get enough sleep or I am a lot sorer today than I usually am. That’s a good indication that it’s time to listen and take a step back. The integrity of this decision really lies in me and is there a point to cheating myself? What’s important is to be reflective and honest about how I feel and decide what is the appropriate level of activity for that day. Whether it’s to reduce the intensity of the workout, opt for a more low-impact exercise like yoga or pilates, or to actually take a day off and maybe even get a massage. There are plenty of appropriate ways to take it easy. Again, it’s about an individual choice, you’ll know what’s right!

# 4 - Health & wellness is a lifestyle choice.

The theme of all the above is health and wellness is in my hands. There’s no one that’s going to make the hard decisions for me. It’s about looking at my life and deciding what are the realistic changes to make. It’s about understanding that this is a long-term commitment versus a couple months before my beach getaway. There’s no one that’s really going to monitor how I choose to live. It’s about taking charge of my own health, wellness and destiny!