(This blog was originally published on December 15, 2014 at LianPrice.com.)
Hey Fit Family!
I promised my introverts a shout out a few emails back, after my “You are too BIG” email. (In it, I attempted to highlight the similar struggles between being overweight and being a spirited extrovert. If you missed this email, you can read it in my blog here: http://www.lianprice.com/you-are-too-big/ )
So “introvert introspection” is what I bring to the cyber table today. Here we go.
Let me know if I hit the nail on the head or miss horribly J
Some of your defining traits: you are a cautious person, shy in big crowds, and perfectionistic in your own personal pursuits.
You are regimented, vigilant, and meticulous. Sometimes these qualities pay off, as they propel you to excel in your chosen field of work. Yet, you prefer not to be front and center.
You desire, and at the same time you run from the praise. It feels good for a fleeting moment to be recognized for your hard work, but deep down it never feels deserved.
No matter what you do or how much you accomplish, it’s never enough for your standards. And what the heck are your standards anyway? They are up in the clouds somewhere, hopelessly unattainable.
You are so quick to self-deprecate, dragging an acute sense of inadequacy around with you that is entirely self-perceived.
Are you impeccable introverts out there? Is this you?
Some of you may be thinking, “I thought I was an extrovert, because I really related to that other email. But now I am not so sure, because this sounds familiar too.” That’s very normal. None of us are entirely one way or the other, each individual’s personality has so many layers, and that’s make all of us who we are.
Though quiet and reserved at times, this doesn’t mean you are zen-like. In fact, you may very well be walking around with a great deal of anxiety bubbling beneath the surface of “calm” you try so hard to uphold in public.
The truth is you wish you could have some peace of mind, but can’t remember the last time you did.
Andrew Solomon illustrated this equation in his book, Noonday Demon:
Depression= Response to past loss.
Anxiety= Response to future loss.
He states the two are often inseparable.
So how does this all relate to fitness?
Well, anxiety is a primal instinct that’s great for basic survival. Anxiety fuels the flight, fight or freeze modes, however, you may be exercising these precautions even when you are not actually under any real threat.
What do I mean? You flee from this anxiety by pulling into yourself, and you become so obsessed about your body that nothing else in the world seems to matter anymore. You vigilantly count calories, exercise extreme portion control and push yourself through mile after grueling mile of exercise, forgetting that the rest of your life is trailing behind in your dust, waiting for you to stop and enjoy it. You are lost in this self-contained world, and although it may look like self-punishment, you feel better because at least you have one thing under your control: your body.
Through this grueling cycle, you find a little peace of mind, even if it’s accompanied by a growling stomach and chronically aching muscles.
Maybe you are depressed because you once had the body of your dreams, your dream job, etc. But life happened and you lost it, and now your frozen in the present. You are scared to go after these things again, for fear that if something goes wrong, you will have to endure the pain of loss again.
If your habit is to freeze, take this example: You’re overweight. You start a new diet program, you start to actually get somewhere with it, and then all of a sudden, you’re stuck. You fear the future. What if you actually do hit your goal? Are you worthy of being that size? Being that strong? Being that attractive? What if you have to get all new clothes? What if this new slim, lean body puts you in the (*gasp!*) spotlight??
So you stay frozen, right in the same spot. You self-sabotage, go back to your old ways, anything just to get away from the fear of this unknown.
Or maybe you’re busy fighting your body and those demons in your head at every turn. You fear the spotlight because it may accidently expose what is really going on your head, what you really see yourself as. The world may see you in an extremely positive light: generous, adept, selfless, humble, highly-skilled, even beautiful, but in the shadows of your own dark mind, you believe you are anything but.
When we don’t believe we deserve praise, positive results or happiness, we will NEVER get them. We will always deflect the good things that come our way, disallowing ourselves from enjoying the fruits of our labor.
I know this to be true, because I have been there. It is so hard to fight against the most brutal enemy I can imagine, the one in my own head. The one stealing every victory from my grasp, telling me it was undeserved. The one dangling the carrot before my nose over and over saying, just go one more mile, and then you will be happy! Grrrhhh.
And let me just say, I applaud the meticulous introverts, their discipline is like no one else’s in the world. The biggest battle for them (and will be their greatest victory) is not to get the job done. It’s not a question whether or not they will execute the game plan. They will execute it to a “T.”
No, their biggest battle is to let go and enjoy the process along the way, (because for the flight-prone introverts, that is the only way they will keep pushing through and not self-sabotage, again,) and enjoy the victory once they get there. It will be to give self-credit for the job well done, and the glorious results.
This does NOT mean they are required to rest on their laurels. It just means that they have finally told the mental self-deprecator to BACK OFF, because this IS their moment, and it IS well-deserved.
The moral of the story is, don’t run yourself down. And don’t turn your own body into a battlefield for control.
Treat yourself with respect, embrace the concept that your life has intrinsic value. Even if you are not where you want to be yet, with your physique, your career, whatever, you can still enjoy your life. You don’t deserve enjoyment only once you hit the mountain top, you deserve some enjoyment every day.
Talk to you soon
In Good Health,