We all think about exercise as the thing we have to do to stay fit and looking good. We know it is an important part of longevity – a necessary evil. It burns off that bowl of chips or ice cream, or in my case the litany of guilty pleasures to which I surrender daily. But, there is a benefit that we don’t think about that is arguably superior to the calories burned and just as important as all the health benefits — if not more.
What is the hidden benefit? “I matter.”
Our days are always filled with responsibilities that we have to take care of – our jobs, families and home responsibilities keep us jumping through hoop after hoop. We all know that the things that we are willing to work for “matter.” So, why do we so often keep ourselves off that list? Choosing to workout daily is a commitment to yourself. It says “I matter.” It’s a daily choice to value yourself. It’s an act of authentic self-esteem, true self confidence that says “Yes, I know it is important to take care of myself because I will be more fit, stronger, have better endurance, quality of life and potential longevity. I will have more to give to the people and causes I love. I am worth the work, the effort of this workout. ”
Psychologists will tell you that young children that receive the following messages of “secure attachment” from their parents will develop self-confidence and a healthy sense of self-esteem.
- You are valued
- You are accepted
- You are loved
- You are understood
- You are respected
Give these messages to your inner child. Even if you do not say to yourself on a daily basis, “I am valued. I am accepted. I am loved. I am understood. I am respected,” when you take the time daily to workout, you are in effect acting in accordance with those beliefs. Whether you know it or not, you are sending yourself these positive messages. Even if you don’t believe them completely at first, action in the direction of a desired belief, especially repetitive behaviors, always create the desired neural pathways. When you workout daily you are working to establish these healthy beliefs and a better life experience.
I truly believe that we live the lives we feel we deserve and we seek the love we feel we deserve. If we are to live a life of love and joy, it has to start from within. We have to feel worthy of good things. We have to feel worthy of love. And, you are worthy —- YOU ARE. The act of taking care of your body each day says “I matter;” it says I love and respect myself. From that space, you can go out into the world with an authentic wholeness.
The best way to shift beliefs that you hold about yourself and to build a strong authentic identity is to cast votes for that identity each and every day with many, tiny little actions. That is the hidden benefit of exercise. It casts a vote that says “I matter” and am worthy of a good healthy body and life. Blessings!
Sandra M Bell
Author of “Lunchtime Joy Magnet” & personal coach