Are you a balanced and healthy version of fitness?
Many people are focused on physical fitness to the point of causing an imbalance in their emotional fitness. Perhaps you know of someone who is killing themselves at the gym every day, obsessively working out and depriving themselves of desirable foods in order to transform their body into one that is considered socially accepted. They may reject their natural form and consistently degrade themselves with comments like “I hate my thighs” or “My butt makes me look a bus!”
If so, have you wondered about that person’s mental state or emotional fitness? I’m all for being active and physically fit, eating well and exercising on a regular basis, yet if you are not fit emotionally, then what price glory? You may have what is considered a beautiful physique, but if you are obsessing over every calorie, and judging yourself as unacceptable in any way because of some perceived physical flaw, whether it be that your thighs are too fat or your arms are too skinny, then how can you truly be fit? Doesn’t true fitness also include a state of emotional wellness?
But how do you determine if you are emotionally fit? It’s not something that can be measured by the number of push-ups you can do, how much you weigh, your height or body type, your blood test results, or even by how others perceive you.
One easy way to begin to attain emotional fitness is to ask yourself how happy you are. Are you happy now? Or will you be happy when? Or happy if? Fill in the blank on those last two questions. Are you waiting for an event to occur, some kind of accomplishment, or another person to act in a certain way before you can be happy? When you finally drop those last ten pounds, or when your boss publicly acknowledges all your hard work?
And take a moment and consider how you respond to people and events? Do you find yourself taking responsibility for the emotional states of others, then becoming anxious or upset yourself because of the way they are feeling? Do you neglect your own interests because someone else may get mad at you or rebuke you for them? Do you let other people determine your value for you? Feeling that only if another person approves of you can you feel good enough, and if your appearance, actions or opinions are disapproved of, you then feel worthless or not good enough?
So where do you begin if you decide you are not as happy, or as emotionally fit as you would like to be? Do you have an idea of what being emotionally fit would be for yourself? That may be a good place to start. Simply observe other people who appear to be more emotionally fit in the way in which you want to be. Do you want to be more self-accepting? Then find someone who seems to you to be self-accepting. It could be a friend or family member, or a co-worker, or even a celebrity or someone in the media spotlight.
Once you have someone in mind then you have something to evaluate your progress against, a yard-stick to measure with, so to speak. Remember the idea is to evaluate, not judge. Do you remember when the WWJD bracelets that were all the rage? The brightly colored bands that prompted the wearer, when a decision needed to be made, to ponder “What would Jesus do?” That’s an effective mindfulness tool. Except perhaps, you could ask yourself what the person whose traits you wish to emulate would do in a given situation. You may not know for certain how that person would react, yet given what you do know about them, you can likely speculate their response. Then imagine yourself responding in that same way.
Although a tiny step, do not discount its effectiveness. The smallest degree of change can vastly alter an outcome over time. Adopting this simple mental habit is far easier than going to the gym every day or quitting carbs! And its result far more life changing as it moves you into a new way of thinking about everything. The trick to the application, however, is to ask the question and apply the result without personal admonishment or judgment. Do not consider yourself wrong if you have not up to this point acted in that way; instead, merely respond as best you can in the newly uncovered manner and notice the shift you experience in yourself as you begin to create your own emotional fitness.
As you become more practiced at being aware of your responses, and gently altering them as well as your actions, it gets easier and you may soon find yourself steadily shifting into an expanded experience of emotional fitness.