We are all guilty of being critics, myself included. No shame here just an honest admission of guilt. Have you ever watched an overweight person struggling at the gym? Was your first thought, "Good for him or her! So great to see people working to better themselves."? Probably not. Have you ever had a friend or someone you know achieve something only to mutter a hundred reasons why it was easy for them, why it's not that great of an accomplishment, or why it really doesn't even matter? Be honest. We've all done it. But why?
Watching others become successful can trigger a painful human emotion: jealousy. Keep in mind there is an important distinction between envy and jealousy. Envy is wanting what someone else has. Jealousy is fearing that someone else's accomplishment takes away from your own. Somehow we expect to gain something from denouncing someone else's accomplishment. When you think about it, it doesn't make any sense.
Judging someone else by our own internal standards that are supported by our own opinions, grounded in our own biases, and fuelled by our own insecurities gets us nowhere. We need to change our internal dialogue when we see something we don't agree with. Instead of criticism try acceptance. From acceptance we can breed encouragement.
Here is a scenario. You are at the gym defying stereotypes by lifting heavy weights and laughing in the face of anyone who says you will get too bulky. But then- a young woman walks into the gym with a full face of makeup, bright pink matching workout attire, and a perfectly coiffed hairdo heads straight for the stair master. Your natural reaction: the eye roll + heavy sigh combo. You wish she could be more like you. You send a snarky text to your friends about how gym barbie just rolled in. FULL STOP. But seriously stop. Let's work to end this cycle of judgment and criticism ESPECIALLY towards other women. So what someone came into the gym with a full face of makeup? Maybe that's how she feels confident. Maybe she looks at you and thinks, "Good lord her outfit is trash and it's pretty clear she has never heard of a hair brush."
The point is, the world is full of critics and guess what, everyone thinks THEY are right. When it comes to exercise, there is no wrong way to move your body. Not everyone wants to lift weights, not everyone wants to do Pilates. We are not in a position to trounce the how someone chooses to move, we all just need to move more. Overweight and obesity rates continue to climb especially in children and youth. Our lives are ever more convenient as exercise becomes ever more difficult. One thing you should never worry about is what people will think of you when you choose Zumba over Tough Mudder. If we all just felt a little more comfortable, a little more supported, and hell, even a little more encouraged who knows what we might accomplish!
Challenge: the next time you see someone attempt or accomplish something cool say way to go! or you're awesome! Even better yet, learn from them. Ask them questions: "How did you do that? What did you learn? What would you say to someone starting out?" Let's open up a "dialogue" and grow a community of people who support and enrich each other.
Ps. I recently asked friends and clients for advice regarding haircare (something I know literally nothing about) and it was so cool to hear their insight and feedback. Seems like a ridiculous example I know but as a coach it is almost always the other way around, I am the one giving the advice. However, if I can't learn, I can't teach. You may be an expert in many things but find an area of your life you'd like to improve and reach out to others for their insight. This is a good practice to have. You may be surprised by what you learn.
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