I truly believe that every decision we make stems from love, or from fear. Two people can be doing the exact same thing, but the intent behind the action can come from two very different places. Shifting my mindset towards one of compassion, gratitude and acceptance has changed my life in so many ways; but ultimately, it has brought my life back. No longer am I simply existing in a numb, empty shell, ruled by anxiety and hatred and my inner critic, but I’m living life, loving life.
Shifting your perspective and your framework for living life isn’t easy, and isn’t something that will happen overnight. Scientifically, you’re literally attempting to re-wire neural pathways in your brain that have been used over and over; beliefs that have been cemented for months or even years. What you tell yourself really does become a reality, and that’s why mindset is such an important aspect in so many parts of life - whether that be telling yourself you can or can’t do something, or that you’re not worthy or good enough.
Everything I write about is all from personal experience and opinion (queue the lengthy anecdote), but for me, using this idea has helped me immensely to shift my mindset in different aspects of my life, one of which being exercise. I’ve spoken and written before about exercise and how common it is nowadays to have an unhealthy relationship with it - which seems counter-intuitive to it’s increasing popularity across social media, that on the surface seems to not only promote health and wellbeing, but ideas of perfection, beauty and ultimately, happiness. We live in a world surrounded and almost built on foundations of the media, and it’s so important to stay mindful of your own mental health and your intentions behind your actions.
I used to view exercise as something I ‘had’ to do. It wasn’t a choice but a necessity in my day - rarely would I listen to my body’s signals and whether I actually had the energy or motivation. In fact, I can probably count a single time that I did - if it meant getting up hours earlier, going to events late, working out when injured, I did.
What was first a form of stress and anxiety relief became an obsession, and at times a form of punishment for myself or a way to compensate for or justify my meals. All of my actions came from a place of hatred for my body, for my self, a competition with myself to do better, be better - but not with the idea of self-growth, but from the idea that I wasn’t good enough as I was. It projected my inner fears of being a failure; failing my university exams, failing to succeed in life, failing to find the happiness I thought that through these things I would eventually find. Fast forward to the present, and I finally feel like i’m able to incorporate movement mindfully into my day again. I can go for walks not thinking about reaching a certain number of steps, I can do yoga when I feel like it and I’m even toying with the idea of trying out weight lifting - because it looks fun and i’d like to improve my strength, not because I want to achieve a certain physique or an excuse to fuel my body. I enjoy moving my limbs, smelling the fresh air and feeling energised; but equally, I’m completely okay spending a full day sitting on the sofa or in bed reading or watching my favourite tv series. I want to exercise because I love my body, not because I hate it. I want to exercise because I love the way it makes me feel, not because I’m filled with anxiety when I don’t do it.
It wasn’t just a case of convincing myself of this change of mindset - it took re-affirming these beliefs regularly but most importantly, implementing them through action. I actually cut out exercise completely, even things like yoga and going for walks that I felt were becoming compulsive for me to do each day. The only movement in my day would be when I was out with friends and family, or cooking, showering etc when in the house.
No longer are my intentions stemmed from a place of fear.
Of course, there is always an exception to this - because, like I’ve ranted on about before; life is about balance. Fear is not a feeling or an emotion to be demonised - like everything, it has its place in life. In my eyes, fear should be viewed as a tool; a passageway for growth and expansion: the adrenaline when you push yourself out of your comfort zone, the anxiety when you challenge yourself to a food you fear or when you go to that social event you were about to bail on.
It’s all about checking in with yourself, being honest about what you need at the time - do you need some compassion, to be gentle and forgiving, or do you need to tell yourself to pull it together, to push through?
I guess, when you think about it, this form of fear is actually disguised as love (so maybe, there isn’t much of an exception after all.) You know, deep down, that it is something that will benefit you and help you grow - your mind has just, over time, began to view something completely ‘normal’ as a threat. So maybe, it’s not just about choosing intentions from a place of love over fear, but also about re-defining what fear means to you, and unearthing the ideas underneath.
I hope this not-so-little ramble makes you re-think areas of your life that you know you could stem from a more compassionate and self-loving place, or makes you consider anxieties and feelings that might be holding you back from becoming the best version of yourself. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts, so don’t hesitate to leave a comment or email, or message through instagram.
Oceans of love,