When it comes to exercise: “I’m afraid I’ll look silly trying to do that,” “I’m afraid I won’t be able to keep up,” and “What will people think when they see me?” are some things I’ve been told.
Most are variations on two basic fears: 1) Fear of criticism and 2) Fear of failure.
Let’s talk about fear. Firstly, nothing in anyone else’s mind can hurt you. If someone DOES think, “Wow! What an awkward looking person trying to keep up with that exercise class! He can’t do that workout!” What then? Do the thoughts you THINK someone else MIGHT be thinking really have any power over you? NO! And what if you can’t keep up? Is that the worst thing in the world? It just means you’re a work in progress. And that’s a very good thing. No infant is born running. The human experience is one of continual trial, error, correction, trial, and so on. If memory serves, there’s only been one perfect person to walk the earth… Eventually, we get better at those things we practice…but we have to work at it. Failure might be looked upon as an opportunity for growth and development. Failing helps identify needed areas for focused attention, that we might develop strength in place of weakness. (Taking muscles to failure is common practice in training and is necessary for growth.) Criticism might be looked at as an opportunity for self examination. If we’re working toward a worthy goal and are putting forth a decent effort, there is no reason to feel down when faced with criticism. Again, no real or imagined opinion of anyone else has power over you. The power to move forward or to remain sedentary is within you alone. It begins in your mind. Don’t try to give that power to anyone. You can’t anyway, but you may allow your own fear of criticism to keep you from changing and growing.
“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” (Leonardo da Vinci, italics added)
Don’t be afraid to live a healthy life. Never allow fear to rule your day. Nothing good comes of it. Open yourself to healthy change. Get out there and happen to things! Happen to yourself! You hold the key. Be brave- use it!
Send questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org Sally Windham is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Instructor.