You can’t be sedentary and obese for six decades and completely erase the impact. The scar of it remains, both on your body and your emotions. The scar on my emotions is a continued sense of personal insecurity and deep inferiority to other people. It is something I battle every day.
My thinking mind knows that I should be confident in my skills, and that I am on equal standing with other people. I can list my individual strengths and be confident that they are, indeed, strengths. I can engage in meaningful discussions. I have held positions of authority and been successful in them. I know that I have made, and will continue to make, significant contributions in my community.
No, my insecurity and sense of inferiority aren’t grounded in logic. They are emotions that have insinuated themselves into my subconscious over my entire life. Every time I “cheated” on a “diet”—two words I have eliminated from my vocabulary—a voice inside myself slyly whispered: “Failure.” Every time I faced difficult courses in school, that same voice said: “You can’t do this.” Even though I really didn’t hear the voice consciously, I believed it.
Emotions can become a habit, can’t they? They can become the default settings on our hearts and spirits that, over time, somehow become truths. I didn’t feel insecure and inferior. I was insecure and inferior. That was my truth. As much as I did daily battle with my emotions when I started my healthy lifestyle, these beliefs did leave scars that I couldn’t easily erase.
One of the ways I fight back is to shine a light on those scars. Writing about this, knowing other people will read it, is my way of saying “enough.” These negative emotions lose some of their potency when you call them out and challenge them. Brené Brown, a qualitative researcher and storyteller, says we need to have the courage to be vulnerable. I believe that.
I also know that I am not alone in my insecurities and inner fears. The human experience is wrapped in its own individual package. No one can truly understand anything or anyone around them except through the filter of her own eyes and heart and mind. How easy it can be to interpret strength if no apparent vulnerabilities or scars are evident! Our society demands self-confidence to be successful. If I couldn’t feel self confident inside, I could certainly don a pretty thick coat of self-confidence for others to see. Yet, I assumed that same self-confidence projected by someone else went all the way to his core.
I work on this, every day. Believing every person is beloved by God—is enough for God—is a central part of my faith. So I keep breaking down those scars, refusing to let them stay a habit. They can weigh me down and hurt as much as my physical weight did, but only if I let them. Only if I listen to those sly whispers without saying out loud: “This is a lie. I know who I am.”