It’s sad when I hear people tell me that they let self-esteem issues stop them from going for their goals. Especially fitness goals. Part of what comes with an unhealthy self esteem is a preoccupation with what other people think. Somehow the judgment of the all encompassing “they” stops people from making their fitness goals public knowledge.
This isn’t to suggest that gyms become “Judgment Free Zones.” On the contrary, gyms should be Judgment Day Everyday. Otherwise, no one will truly accomplish anything. Judgment should be a part of accurate self-evaluation. You don’t need a gym to “protect” you from judgment. You do need an ability to receive healthy criticism.
Trust me, you really don’t have anything to worry about regarding being judged in the gym anyway. Nobody is really judging you. Nobody is even thinking about you. Everybody is to preoccupied thinking about and judging themselves.
A wise friend of mine helped to teach me that most people are too preoccupied with themselves to be concerned with much of anything else. He was a kind of mentor to me during my time in SoCal. I was in my early 30s and he was in his early 50s. We were talking with each other about our respective goals in life and I had mentioned something about being concerned with what other people would think about the course of action I was considering. That’s when he gave it to me. He said:
“Tim, when I was your age an older pastor once told me that when he was in his 20s he was very concerned what others thought of him. When he was in his 40s he didn’t give a rip what anybody thought about him. And when he was in his 60s he found out that nobody was thinking about him all along.
He had wasted a great deal of emotional energy concerned about something that ultimately didn’t even matter. He counseled me to skip the nonsense of caring too much or too little of what others thought and just go about my own business as long as it didn’t conflict with my own Biblical code of ethics and the sincere, thoughtful concerns of loved one truly involved in my life.
I have not regretted taking that advise.”
My friend was right and I knew it as soon as he said it. I saw it played out every day in the gym. As a gym rat for the last 2 and half decades and as a trainer for the last decade I know what people are thinking because they tell me. Here’s what’s going on in most folks heads while they’re at the gym:
* If someone perceives themselves as out of shape they are very self conscious about how they look and have no emotional energy left to be concerned with how you look.
* If someone perceives themselves as in OK shape they are focused on how they can get in better shape and have no emotional energy left to be concerned with how you look.
* If someone is in fantastic shape they have done so with a lot of hard work and discipline and at the end of the day have no emotional energy left to be concerned with how you look.
Get it? Nobody, but nobody, is thinking about you. They are all primarily thinking about themselves. Which for the most part, is great. That way everyone just minds their own business and gets to work.
So why not stop letting any kind of self consciousness keep you from getting in better shape?
There’s actually something more I want to tell you. Most of what others think of you – as limited as it is – is actually positive. Really:
* When looking at someone who is out of shape They think, “Wow, good for him/her. They’re really trying to improve themselves.”
* When looking at someone who is in OK shape They think, “Wow, good for him/her. They’ve accomplished something and are working hard to do even better.”
* When looking at someone who is in fantastic shape They think, “Wow, They’ve worked really hard to get it done. They’re inspirational.”
That’s what’s really going on in people’s heads when they work out. They’re not thinking about you. So enjoy the freedom of knowing that no one is judging you . . .
By the way, can you name the flower in the thumbnail at the top of this page? Here’s a clue: it’s named after a Greek mythological guy who looked at himself in the mirror too much. Comment below.