Fixing v. Caring
I’ve noticed, in my work, that exercise can be a juicy topic for women.
Knowing it’s good for you, but not being able to get into the habit. Or ‘falling off the wagon.’ Or going too hard when your body might need a more gentle movement practice.
And when we mix this with cultural messages around beauty, being fit and the six pack abs on the cover of Self magazine, it can all get a bit messy.
When I was in college and feeling sick and felt my weight creep up, I immediately fled to the gym. I ran 6x a week even though my head hurt, my bones ached, my energy was in the toilet and to be perfectly frank, hated every minute on the treadmill. I was going to whip myself into shape come hell or high water. This was a rough time for me where I felt at odds and deeply flawed. Looking back, I hoped running would fix that.
Which brings me to this idea of intention and how exercise can often get disguised as a culturally supported way to engage in self-fixing rather than genuine self-care. And in this confusion, I think, is where some of the resistance and pain lies. This is how I’ve experienced the difference:
A motivation around self-fixing is rooted in the belief that “I am not enough” or there is “something wrong with me.”
Self-fixing is looking externally for validation. I will be OK when I’m at _________ weight.
Self-fixing is fueled by inner criticism. It may be asking “why can’t you get it together?” or saying “stop being lazy.”
Self-fixing loves comparison...if I could just have Gisele Bundchen's butt...
Self-fixing is not sustaining. And is prone to peaks and valleys that result in cycle of self-judgment and frustration.
Self-care is fueled by the belief in one’s fundamental worthiness.
Self-care stems from an acceptance of the body with warts and all.
Self-care is grounded in a feeling-tone of care and stewardship. It strives for health and flexibility and feeling connected, vibrant and confident.
Self care is renewing. It knows there may be off days or obstacles, but it can hop back onto a routine or practice. Or can adjust to variations in mood, energy and time.
A practice I offer you, is to very gently ask this question to yourself: am I motivated by fixing or caring?
And how can you move towards more caring?
Feel your way into movement rather than thinking yourself into it. Do you feel good, strong, renewed and resilient running? Awesome! If not, explore what would feel good. Dancing? Swimming? Gardening? Yoga? Gentle stretching?
Be open to movement/exercise looking different than it does in the media or on the cover of fitness magazines.
Does this practice make me smile? Feel joyful or creative?
Listen to that deep voice inside you. Is it giving you a quiet yes, this is good for you. Or is it dreading the next session?
Practice loving-kindness. Meditation can be a great way to start to affirm your basic worthiness and cultivate care and compassion towards yourself.
What do you notice? How would your approach to movement change when you work with care rather than fixing?
Wishing you much health and happiness,