Last night I had the pleasure of running into an old schoolmate of mine. He’s always been in ridiculous shape, having been a serious sprinter since high school. Last night however, I realized that he’d made the transition from fitness enthusiast to trainer. Awesome, I know. The community can always use additional quality guys. Anyway, he was working with his client outdoors. His shirt was off…and he looked PHENOMENAL.
Honestly, my first thought was: “If he and I were standing shirtless, side-by-side, and a chick was asked to pick one of us, based solely on our physiques…she would pick him without a second thought.” A minute of insecurity? Maybe. Maybe it was less than 10 seconds of it. But, it was enough. Immediately, it a made me think of some of the thought processes I’ve encountered with many of my clients.
Many of them see someone who, their minds tell them, is ‘better’ than them. And, immediately, they fall into a downward cycle:
- “Why me?”
- “Is my girl/guy checking him/her out? Why is he/she with me?”
- “Why do I even bother coming to the gym? I’ll never look like that”
I’ve heard them all, and many more. Truthfully, I’ve never been able to relate to fully. I’ll tell you why: I, personally, believe that comparison, self-evaluation, categorisation, and self-quantifying are natural parts of the human psyche. Further, I believe that acknowledging and embracing such (as opposed to denying, demonising, and battling that moment of comparison) lends a person the ability to move past it.
For me, those couple of seconds led to three distinct thought processes:
1. An honest appraisal of my body-type:
My buddy was always in shape, and will (probably always be in shape). He doesn’t watch his diet, and has never needed to. He is pure ecto-meso. Me, on the other hand, I’ve always been ‘softer’, even when shredded (which is what I am currently…at sub-8% bodyfat). My body-type is closer to meso-endo. I have to watch what I eat, and I have to keep my activity level high. Standing next to him re-affirmed my life-choices and diet-choices for the past decade.
“What do you mean ‘softer’ Corey” is one of the things I’ve gotten a lot of over the years by people who trivialise my thought processes and feelings where my body is concerned. These people have been friends, peers, and/or clients who fall in to one of two camps:
a. People who have never been as lean or as developed as I am/was/will be…ie people who “would be happy” to look the way I do/have/will. (I’ve actually heard: “if I looked like you, I would [insert sentiment here].”)
b. People who are conditioned to try to console.
Either thought process, while positively- intentioned, does nothing to help a person’s spiral. And, the latter thought process, brings me back to my initial argument: Society is conditioned to downplay a person’s feelings. “Everything will be ok.” Cue the pat on the head. However, as stated prior, getting past feelings of insecurity requires the acknowledgement…active acknowledgement.
2. An honest appraisal of where I was physically:
I was carrying 20-30 lbs more muscle than my peer.
Possibly more.I was put together better. Then why would I feel self-conscious?
I’ll tell you why:
3. “I can be better.”
For some, this thought exists in the back of their minds like poison: slowly seeping into unconscious thought, eroding self-perception, self-esteem, and self-worth. But, do you remember what I said about acknowledging it? Let’s bring it to the forefront. I did and, immediately, poison became a positive.
I CAN be better, and will be.
There will always be someone whose very existence challenges your sense of self. The truth of the matter is, you CAN be better. But, and this is the most important part, the person you need to be better than isn’t the phantom that you allow your mind to create.
It isn’t the guy/girl your significant other thinks is attractive.
It isn’t your subordinate, who happens to be more qualified than you on paper.
The person you need to best…is you.
Every day… Every week… Every year, strive to be better than the person you were before.
Life isn’t a competition…but if it were, past-you would be the person to beat.
Make it happen.