The time of the pandemic. Everything seems to be new–new virus, new social protocols, new hygiene strategies–yet nothing is really different. We’re still fighting to stay away from disease and striving to stay healthy. Only this time, the stakes are higher. The virus spreads like wildfire and having a comorbidity can mean devastating consequences not just physically but mentally as well. Many have become easily triggered by stress. Panic attacks and depression are at an all time high. A year and a half into this pandemic and everyone probably has had (or will have) their fair share of emotional breakdowns. I was no exception.
Early last year when I was visiting my girlfriend in her house, I broke down. The plan was to get a workout and spend some quiet time together. I wasn’t in a particularly stable emotional state at that time having recently lost my job. I was a dark time and I feel that my past demons were gaining an upper hand. When a group of friends called and decided to drop by, the insecure child in me who had poor self-worth and feared rejection was triggered. It sounds flimsy but unexpected encounters with people I am not too close with triggers my social anxiety. Although these guys were acquaintances, our relational distance made it hard for me to be myself around them. Having to grow up in a hypercritical and emotionally shutdown household, the anxiety I felt that day stemmed from the craving of my inner child to be accepted, his fears of rejection and poor self-worth. Unexpectedly, I broke down into tears and even I was shocked that my demons were still there, dormant and waiting to be resurrected.
The thing is, our demons will never go away. They may lay dormant and go unnoticed but whatever trauma we survived in the past is part of who we are. They are both a curse and a blessing that shape our personalities and are clues on what to work on to live our best lives. In my case, I needed to do a lot of work about self-esteem, self-acceptance and forgiveness.
There are many ways to heal. Meditation, reading, journaling, yoga, breathwork and spirituality are all helpful. My favorite way and one that I found really effective is fitness. I’ve been subjecting my mind and body into the cycle of physical pain and endorphin rushes for more than 10 years now and even to this day, fitness still teaches me how to attack my demons. For one, exercising is hard. It is painful. When the weight on the bar is heavy or when the workout calls for the Air Bike, laziness, fear and avoidance arise. To complete the workout, I have to train my mind to focus–to get myself in the present moment. We cannot think two thoughts at the same time and when we focus on the present moment we are letting go of everything else—our fears and doubts. So in the process of bringing my best self to the gym, I become capable of lifting successfully. This is how I teach myself how to succeed over my demons.
Today, I reach out and meet at least 1 person a day for a free assessment. Something I couldn’t even imagine doing a year ago. I realized that fitness is my calling, a way of life of overcoming my demons and in the process, helping others to achieve their goals.
Working out is different for everybody. For some it is a past time or a social gathering. For others, it can be a coping mechanism from a deeper problem. For me, it is a mission of healing and empowerment not just for myself but for all those who need the same. It’s my medicine and my teacher. Whatever demons come my way, I know that I can win over them because I train my body and my mind to be resilient. Life is a long game and, for me, fitness is for the long run. As we grow older, life will not get any easier. Problems will be heavier. Responsibilities will be greater. We just have to get stronger. Body transformations are great short-term achievements. They show you what you can do if you have commitment, discipline and consistency. It will reveal your inherent strengths and talents. But in the long run, mental strength, emotional adaptability, radical self-acceptance, self-reliance and the courage to attack your demons are your best reward.
Giving into inner demons happens to everyone. It can manifest as uncontrollable anger, manipulative behavior, procrastination or emotional shutdown. Don’t push your demons under the rug and think you can evolve without them. Instead, welcome them because they are a part of you. Train your mind and body to attack your demons. You have what it takes to win!
Do you have short-term and long-term goals for your mind and body? Book a free assessment today and let me show you how fitness can strengthen you mentally and physically.