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Conquering the enemy within

Conquering the enemy within

Sometimes we’re our own worst enemy, too afraid to try something for fear of looking stupid.

Fear that we’ll be judged by others. Fear that we’ll fail.

I get it. I’ve lived it. I spent years doing my best to avoid being seen in public, I gave up sport, heck, I almost gave up my friends just to avoid social situations. More recently I’ve avoided being seen by others in my pursuit of better health and improved fitness. I didn’t want to be seen as the fat guy pointlessly trying to get fit and healthy.

Throughout my life, I’ve spent a lot of time doing nothing because I convinced myself there was no point pursuing something that was destined to fail.

This was my ego talking, telling me I need to get out of here and get back to where I feel safe. Unfortunately, my safe zone is in front of the TV, or computer screen with a bowl of snacks close by. Nobody ever improved their health by watching TV and snacking on confectionery, right?

Our egos are fragile and we all want to be good at the things we do. We want fast results and we don’t want to be the slowest, weakest, least-informed person in the room.

Our ego tells us we’ll look stupid, people will stare at us and judge us. ‘Let’s not give them the satisfaction, let’s get out of here.’

The reality is: everybody starts somewhere. I don’t care who you are, or how good you are at something, at some point you were the slowest, weakest, or least informed person in the room. And if you don’t think you were, that’s your ego talking too.

See, our egos don’t just prevent us from doing things because we might not succeed, they can also prevent us from accepting that we’re not perfect and we still have room for improvement. Honestly, your ego isn’t an accurate gauge of anything, it’ll convince you you’re inferior to everyone just as quickly as it can convince you you’re better than you really are.

Find a way to silence that voice in your head just long enough to go for a walk, climb those steps, or pick up the weight bar. Because it doesn’t actually matter how much you can lift, or how far you can walk. The reality is, everybody starts somewhere and this experience of being slower, weaker, and less informed is a necessary part of the process of overall improvement.

The only thing that matters is that you tried and that you come back again to do just a little bit better the next time. If it’s the best you can do, it’s the best you can do, for now.

As hard as it might be, try not to focus on what you look like, how far you can’t walk, or how little you can lift. Focus on the tiny victories that slowly lead to overall improvement. Focus on the fact that you did something and celebrate it as a tiny win. Slowly chip away at your ego and acknowledge your improvement, however small it is.

Learn to recognise your ego for what it is; loud, persistent, and often insecure. Acknowledge it if you have to and then act as if it’s not there. Let the other people around you compete with themselves while you strive for your own version of improvement.

First published: Nov 2016

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