Am I Enough?

 
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Confidence, positive self-image, security, and contentment in myself is something new in my life. Where I am today is not where I was even a year ago. The power self-defeating thoughts had over my mind and my life had always been the larger struggle. The negative internal dialogue was sometimes crippling and I know is damaging. Where I have arrived today on my journey is somewhere that’s liberating. It’s a space where I am happy with myself and how I am. It’s a place where I am comfortable in my own skin. Finding this comfort is why I want to share my revelations because this way of living is so much more fulfilling.

The dominant damaging thoughts which sabotaged my life were:

“I am not skinny enough.”

Those who have known me all my life will tell you that I’ve never been overweight, nor have I ever been close to being overweight. I gained around 9 kg (approx. 19 lbs) in my first year of university in the US, but I never really struggled with being overweight. Then there was a time in high school when I was scary skinny. I was about 43 kg (approx. 94 lbs) with a height of 160cm (approx. 5 ft  2 in), this was a point where my friends and even my teachers were concerned. Yes, I’ve had my share of fluctuations. What is intriguing is the fact that even with no real concern of being overweight, I used to suffer from the perpetuating thought that always told me I wasn’t skinny enough.

A lot of reading has told me that this self-defeating thought probably had something to do with experiences in my past, whether it’s personal, due to societal pressures, influence from the media, or because of certain relationships, the reasons are complex. Whatever the cause though, it is troubling to remember the demons I battled when it came to my self-image. I wasn’t physically overweight, but my thoughts were so strong in their portrayal of my body, that I always felt that I was never skinny enough.

I can laugh about it now because I’ve finally realized something really powerful. In this self-damaging thought I had, who is the ideal I was trying to be skinny for? If I kept thinking, “I am not skinny enough,” the real question should be, “but for who?”

“I am not strong enough.”

There was a time in my life where I was intimidated and immobilized by challenges. I mean who isn’t, but I had an unhealthy relationship with my fears which led me to never take action or ever be willing to put myself out there to take a risk. The honest truth is this was one of the reasons why I never tried Barry’s Bootcamp when I was in the US. After hearing about how hard the class was, I was terrified at the thought of having to go into an environment I was not familiar with and risk failure (I am laughing at how silly this seems now).

The fearful voice inside my head refused to hear the positives about the class. All my energy was focused on the worst case scenario (i.e. I embarrass myself and am unable to complete the class), which ended up stopping me from stepping into an experience which I could have enjoyed. The voice inside my head stopped me from something I might have enjoyed, even without experiencing the class or knowing the real outcome. Sounds familiar?

“I am not smart enough.”

I remember moving to a new school and really struggling, especially when I moved into middle school. I had really poor grades. Cs and Ds were my friends. I remember feeling stupid, unaccomplished, and incapable, until one day in 8th grade one teacher who believed in me and suddenly everything changed. I became a straight A student that year and even got the most improved student award. From then on, I became an above average student. What happened?

That was a really long time ago, but this experience has stuck with me because anytime my mind goes into a downward spiral of thinking that my intelligence is lacking in some way, I think back to this moment in my life and realize that it’s all in my head. I mean I can never know everything, nor can I even try to know everything so lack in knowledge is normal and of course I am not speaking about technical knowledge, but what I am focusing on here is that feeling of not being smart enough for anything. What I remind myself now is that there’s always something I can do about it. Whether it’s to find books and read up on certain things, find a friend or a person who can help fill the gaps, or in some other way take action to minimize whatever gap I feel I have; there’s always a way if we’re willing to find a way.

“I am not enough.”

I struggled with this statement a lot more before. It’s something that rears it’s head here and there even now on some occasions, but I’ve learned how to handle such thoughts. When reality kicks in I realize something simple, almost obvious, but also powerful. All these self-defeating statements and thoughts are exactly that; they’re thoughts! They’re a created and sometimes imaginary perception sitting in my mind. The power it has over myself and my life is only as strong as I allow myself to believe in these thoughts.

What’s interesting about thoughts are that no one else, but I have the power to change my thoughts. My thoughts may be influenced by external things. My thoughts may be a reaction to external things, but ultimately the final decision about what I choose to think about, how I choose to think, and what lies in my mind is in my control.

Self-defeating thoughts exist in my mind. If I choose to believe it’s true, then it will be true in my experience of myself in the world. If I choose not to believe it’s true, then it will remain false in my experience of myself in the world. It sounds simple, but this is why acquiring a strong command of my mind is such a priority in my life. The strength of my thoughts is as strong as I allow it to be. At the end of the day, I am in control.
 

 

You've Got This!

 

You’re too fat.

You’re too chubby.

You’re too skinny.

You’re too muscular.

You’re too dark.

You’re too…..

Trust me, I’ve heard it all! Let’s be real, we live in the modern world (with plenty of ads, social media, and enough Netflix originals to last a lifetime) that constantly reminds us just how important looks are. YES no matter how idealistic I try to think sometimes (i.e. that we're not all that shallow), the truth is, to some level, everyone cares about looks. Some more and some less than others, but bottom line is how we look is a topic in everyone’s minds.

I am speaking quite generally here, but coming from an Asian culture, it’s hard to avoid the role looks plays, especially in regards to the topic on weight. There’s so much emphasis from when I was a young girl about not getting fat, or be too skinny, to dress a certain way, to be a certain way. I mean seriously the list goes on and on. I think there are similar expectations across all cultures, but speaking from my own experience, weight is typically a hot topic, especially if I haven't seen someone in a while. (Well weight and my relationship status, but that’s a topic for another time!)

The message I want to share is, accept and love yourself for who you are the way you are. It took me  awhile to get to where I am today, but trust me the harder you work to love yourself the more rewarding life becomes.

I used to be unhappy with my body. I can’t recall a time through my adolescent years or my youth where I was happy with how I looked. I always found fault with everything. In my pre-teen years, I was the chubby one, but even when I lost the weight in high school I would find fault in my face, my thighs, my arms or something else. It never stopped. In part, because of comments from others, but a lot of it had to do with the state of my mind.

All the comments shot at me used to shake me up. I used to think oh no, I’m too fat, I need to get going and lose weight ASAP! Then when I lost weight, people would tell me I was too skinny. (Seriously! What do you want from me?!) I used to take it all to heart. It impacted my self-esteem a great deal. If you ask my childhood friends, they will remember how insanely insecure I was growing up. Until one day I finally realized something, who are they to tell me about how I should look?

My body is mine. My life is mine. What’s important is to love myself for who I am and to celebrate the body I am in! I finally told myself, “YOU’VE GOT THIS!” So why does it need to matter to anyone else? What becomes apparent is how important it is to feel alive in my own skin. To accept all of myself in the most genuine way. There’s nothing wrong with how I look, unless I allow such polluting thoughts corrupt my state of mind.