One of the most important aspects of
fitness, of life really, is the notion of progress, of becoming better today
than you were yesterday, and the commitment that you will be better tomorrow
than you were today.
Now I honestly don’t believe there are
very many people who would critique that ideology or describe it as unhealthy
(as long as there is a proper perspective attached to it, more on that in a
bit), as this “better tomorrow” concept is really a commitment that an
individual has to become a better, healthier, and fitter person day-by-day.
I do fear, though, that there is an
incredible misconception that persists throughout society around this mindset
because striving to become a better you does not mean that you are so
fundamentally lacking and incapable, in the here and now, that you are somehow
deficient as a person.
Now I can already hear some people
grumble, “Whoa, that’s a little deep for working out and just trying to get in
shape,” but study after study, research after research, has proven beyond all
doubt that what we believe about ourselves and our state of mind/emotions has a
direct correlation to mental and, yes, physical performance.
You will only be who you can believe
yourself to be.
So let’s clear this up right now:
Improving who you are is not about eradicating your imperfections because they
devalue your worth. Rather, improving who you are is about embracing and
improving everything that makes you who you are, the strengths and the vulnerabilities.
And it is our gifts of imperfection, as noted researcher Brené Brown likes to call them, that ultimately
help lift you up to even greater heights than if you were perfect.
In my experiences, the individual who
is self-aware enough to recognize that they are lacking in some specific arena
of life, whether it be physical (strength, stamina, mobility, etc.), mental, or
especially emotional, is the person improves the most.
Because, and here’s a real shocker,
Those who can acknowledge that they are
far from perfect, inadequate at some things even, and then still be okay with
who they are and their value as a person are the ones who become better and
better. They are not shell-shocked at finding themselves lacking because being
imperfect does not shatter their self-worth or life perspective. It is this
individual, the one who can recognize and then accept their limitations who
ends up improving, achieving, and growing beyond those shortcomings precisely
BECAUSE of their weaknesses and imperfections, not in spite of them.
You see, there is a level of
concentrated and intentional effort that we must commit to in order to strive
for that which is out of our reach, that which is difficult, even that which is
fearful. Deciding to travel outside of
our circle of comfort, putting aside that which is easy, and daring to reach
for that which is uncertain and challenging, allows us the courage and the
ability to embrace who and what we are in this moment, including all that we are
not, so that we can work towards improving ourselves into who we want to
In my own life, however, there is one
component of growth and progress that I often overlook or disregard altogether:
I am worth it. Our ability to improve is directly linked to having a mindset
that we are, no matter our current limitations and shortcomings, not only
capable of progress, but worthy of all that progress can mean and demand. In
order to even believe that we can grow, that we are able to better ourselves,
we must first, and above all else, feel that we are worthwhile.
We must, to our very core, believe that
we are worth improving, that we are worth having someone put their faith in us,
that we are worth someone emotionally investing in us because we are, in fact,
worthy of respect and love. It is only within this place of personal acceptance
and genuine openness that we are willing to be okay with failure, to be okay
with setbacks, to be willing to accept a difficult and uncertain challenge
where we don’t know if we can achieve what we wish to accomplish. We must be
willing to be seen, cracks and all, before we can begin fortifying ourselves
into who and what we want to be.
Can you see the paradoxical
relationship in all of this? We must first be okay with who we are before we
can become who we want to be. We must first acknowledge our shortcomings and
potential failures as not only possibilities, but present conditions, long
before we will have the necessary perspective and personal assuredness that it
takes to improve in any tangible way.
really straightforward when you think about it.
Before I can get better at back
squatting, for example, I have to acknowledge that I’m not all that strong at
back squatting, and yet be okay with this obvious deficiency in myself and
where I want to be so that I can have the assurance to pursue improving upon
that weakness. I don’t let being weaker than I’d like to be at back squatting
completely derail my training or send me into some kind of Mountain Dew
guzzling, Cheetos inhaling, shame-spiral.
Because at the very base of our
self-worth, we must believe and cling to this notion that we are in fact worth
all of the struggles that we must encounter to grow: the time, the effort, the
emotions, the investment, the trials, the setbacks, and fears. We must be
certain that we are worth enduring all of those struggles just as much as we
are worth experiencing the triumph, the love, the tears of happiness and
gleeful surprise when somehow, inexorably, we actually accomplish what seemed
so impossible when we set out.
And it is that passion for progress,
that courage to push through all doubt and disbelief, that enables us to strive
to be more than what we are; not because we believe ourselves to be so
fundamentally flawed that we need to become someone else instead of exactly who
we are, but because we are willing to acknowledge who we are not versus who we
wish we could be. We are willing to be vulnerable, to be uneasy with this
dichotomy that is present with in us, because we are worthy of becoming the
very best version of ourselves that we can be.
And we are willing: willing to have
faith in something that defines us and gives us worth far beyond our
shortcomings and failures. Willing to work hard and embrace the struggle and
the uncertainty and stare down all the critics and naysayers who will tell us
that we are not good enough (especially that critic who can cut so deep from
behind that mirror). And perhaps above all, we are willing to invest the time
in ourselves, as we are willing to invest in one another, because if we are
worth all of that for exactly who we are, then others are worth all of those
things as well.
You are enough.