How do you define fitness? Do you define it by how physically strong, flexible, agile, powerful, or graceful you are?
If so, you’re right..kind of. That is part of it, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
The reality is, your physical fitness is determined by your emotional well being, both consciously and unconsciously. Your conscious emotions connect to your mental focus in the moment and they are easily identifiable, like fear and embarrassment.
When you find yourself feeling less than perfect, too heavy, too skinny, or judging yourself in any other way, if you tap into the emotions, you’ll notice emotions like fear or embarrassment. You’ll also notice how they are connected to a mental focus of self-judgment.
What is self-judgment?
According to habitsforwellbeing.com, self-judgment is described as the result of the thoughts individuals have about themselves and the meanings they attach to those thoughts.” Your thoughts produce related feelings and often, they seem to come out of nowhere.
But why do we self-judge?
Self-judgement actually has a purpose in your unconscious mind, its goal is to protect your emotional well-being. It is a survival mechanism that we all originally employ in infancy to cope with the stress of our parents.
As an infant, a stressed parent can only mean one thing in that simple mind, ‘I am too much,’ or ‘I am not enough.’ You see, infants are appropriately narcissistic in this level of development, not yet able to perceive separation from mother.
In a culture that conditions us to be perfect in order to be acceptable, our parents struggle under unbelievable amounts of pressure to be ‘perfect parents’ with very little support to do so. A simple example of this is working mothers who must leave their newborns in order to make enough money to survive. Well-intentioned parents do what they need to do in order to provide for their families, yet critical brain development is stunted in all of us because that is the society we live in. It’s just practical, right?
So we all have self-judgment, unconsciously directing our conscious minds to shift our emotional states, and those states show up as body sensations, movement patterns, and ultimately, behavior.
When does self-judgment become a problem?
While it’s necessary when we are small, the problem with self-judgment as an adult is that it actually does not serve you anymore. It comes from an unconscious belief rooted in your early childhood development, but it stops serving you early in life.
As demonstrated in Dr. Gabor Mate’s work on mind-body connection in ‘biopsychosocial’ health in brain development, your brain needs three factors from pregnancy gestation through 2-3 years of age in order to develop fully:
A parenting caregiver who is:
- Emotionally available, and
- Constantly available.
Can you think of ANY parents who honestly fit those parameters from pregnancy through the first 2-3 years of their child’s life? I cannot, and it is likely rare, if not completely nonexistent in this culture.
However, this is not a ‘blame parents’ conversation. This is an ‘opportunity for healing’ conversation.
So, how can we heal self-judgment?
Here are the three ways you can step away from self-judgment and into healing:
- Practice a mindset of humility.
By taking a courageous step into authentically looking into your own habits and patterns on all levels, you will begin healing yourself. It helps us learn how our own perceptions are clouded from unconscious patterns.
- Collaborating with others.
It’s important to find trusted people to talk to openly. Honest dialogue with others starts a healing process in relationship, lending compassion for our collective pain rather than holding onto self-judgment.
- Take action.
Once you become clear on your disempowering beliefs, you can begin actively shifting your unconscious thought patterns through mindfulness, thought expression, and allowing complete self-acceptance.
The Mind-Body Connection
While physical exercise and diet need to be a part of the solution, it’s important to understand they are not the root of the solution. Your physical level is not the cause of your imbalances. Instead, think of your physical body as a GPS for your holistic health.
As Dr. Gabor Mate wisely teaches, the body is the final place where symptoms manifest in a way that is undeniable. The solution exists at the root cause, found in the unseen.
This is why unconscious integration work is so vital to overall health and wellbeing.
The Emotional State, Mental Focus, and Physical Fitness Connection
For years, my clients have been asking me what their emotional states and mental focus have to do with their physical fitness.
My answer: EVERYTHING.
The root cause of your unconscious habits and patterns align with your values. If your unconscious pattern is connected directly to your values, you experience holistic health and balance.
If your unconscious pattern is connected to avoiding your values, you experience ‘dis-ease’ of some sort. It starts with imbalance, moves to chronic pain or dysfunction, and eventually, if corrective habits are not employed, chronic disease.
Even with great intentions, the Holistic Fitness Lifestyle picture of living must include ALL levels of self: physical, mental, spiritual (I define your spirituality as your values, whether it’s religious or secular), and emotional. As daunting and challenging as it may seem, we must step into emotional awareness, expression, and holding non-judgmental space for one another in order to do so.