No one likes talking about their insecurities. It’s been said that our own insecurities stem from our own judgment of ourselves. The idea is that we are used to passing judgment on others and assume that they will pass judgment on us, so we are constantly insecure about how we look and how we act. I find it a little ironic that insecurity and passing judgment have become such hot topics right now. One of the more popular movies in theaters now is the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, and if anyone ever embodied the word “fearless,” it is Freddie Mercury. In fact, one of the film’s posters has the legend “Fearless lives Forever.” (Fearless) Obviously, we all have our own insecurities and self-doubt, and I am sure Freddie was no different. What does make a difference is whether we choose to let these insecurities and self-doubt get in the way of living our lives.
Many of us use our doubt and insecurity to hide from what we want to do and how we want to live. We are afraid of being judged by others and ourselves for what we do and what we want to do. Weight loss and dieting are full of judgment and self-doubt! We are constantly being told what we are doing wrong. Just last night I saw a tv commercial telling us that counting calories and cutting carbs is the wrong way to achieve weight loss- it’s our hormones that are the problem! By signing up with this program, we can fix our hormones! What the ad didn’t say is that we can control our hormones by how much we eat and what we eat, including carbs. While I’m sure this program has had some success, I don’t think the only way we to lose weight is by forking out money to this weight loss guru so he can let us in on his little secret.
But by implying that “we’re doing it wrong,” he and others are playing on our insecurities. We start doubting ourselves. We start wondering if everyone else is going to tell us how wrong we are for not following “the right diet.” Let’s be honest: no one likes being told they’re wrong! No one likes being laughed at or being made to feel stupid either.
Fear of what other people think is one of the biggest reasons people hide the fact that they are trying to lose weight and why so many people don’t go to the gym or even exercise the way they want. Those are valid fears: there are a lot of judgmental people out there in addition to those who will just give you ‘free advice.’ The Judges will flat out tell you what you are doing wrong and how you will never achieve lasting weight loss following “that weight loss plan!” The Free Advisors will give you all the details about this other weight loss plan they heard of that worked great for their cousin’s boyfriend’s sister. Some of them may be trying to make you feel insecure about how you are eating or what you are choosing to eat (and not eat), and then there are those who really want to help but don’t realize they are undermining your self-confidence. We shouldn’t feel like we need to hide how we eat to avoid unwanted criticism!
While some of us can get by at luncheons and restaurants by surreptitiously avoiding the carbs, high fat sauces or starches, it’s harder when it comes to working out. While weight loss isn’t driven by exercise, being active is an important part of being healthy, and for most of us, once we begin losing weight, we feel the urge to be more active. However, being insecure about our appearance is one of the primary reasons people avoid the gym. Who wants to go to a gym full of fit athletic people when we look in the mirror and see a pudgy blob in a t-shirt and sweatpants? News flash: YOU are the one putting that label on YOURSELF! Why are you assuming that’s what other people are going to think about you? Frankly, there are probably a lot of people at the gym who aren’t even going to notice you because they are too busy worrying about what other people (i.e., you!) are thinking about them! Even if they did notice you and say something rude or judgmental, do you really care about a complete stranger’s opinion?
This is where we fight the self-doubt and insecurity by growing a thick skin and some self-confidence. It’s not easy getting used to negative comments or criticism. My mother was my worst critic for most of my life and I learned at a young age I could either give in to her judgments and change how I lived to suit her, or I could ignore the negativity and live my life the way that suited me. (FYI: my mother hates the music I listen to, including Queen!) For most of us, ignoring a stranger’s obnoxious comment is one thing but ignoring family members and friends is much more difficult. It takes some courage to say “I am doing this my way” when it’s someone you care about, and it can be harder still when the critic really thinks they are being helpful. It takes time, practice and a little tact to build up the self-confidence. Frankly, I was never good at tact: I just ignored the comments and did what I wanted to do! If there is anything any of us learn when it comes to weight loss it is that what works for one person may not work for you. Your sister’s boyfriend’s mom may have lost a boatload of weight on Nutrisystem but that’s no guarantee it will work for you, and there is no shame or rudeness in telling them this! We don’t have to be afraid of trying things our way and doing the things we want to do just because we don’t want to be singled out as “different” or “wrong” or “foolish.”
We can be afraid of going to the gym and being laughed at. We can be afraid of being criticized for choosing the weight loss plan that we like. We can be afraid of working out the way we want because others think it’s not good enough. We can live our lives being afraid or we can learn to be fearless of criticism and judgment. Being fearless doesn’t mean we won’t make mistakes but it’s our right to make them and hopefully we’ll learn from them. If we really want to be the best versions of ourselves, we need to keep moving forward despite the judgment of others. I really think that is why artists like Freddie Mercury appeal so much to me: I want to be fearless too. (Champions)