For as long as I can remember I’ve cared about what others thought about me. In response to this, my mind has always seemed to be searching for ways I can prove my “worth”, essentially postponing my happiness and contentment to a future date when I am a better version of myself.
I thought if I looked a certain way, had a great body, earned a certain amount of money or had particular things then and only then, will I feel like I’m good enough.
I remember a time when I was young and bounding with excitement, I declared I wanted to be a paramedic. What more could a 7-year-old boy want than fast cars and sirens? An older family member shot back and said, “why would you want to be a paramedic when you can be a doctor? Doctors are much ‘better’, more ‘successful’ and they earn more money.”
I vividly remember thinking this seemed strange. How would that make me ‘better?’ I’m just here trying to have as much fun as I can; I don’t care about money.
But the seed had been planted. If I wanted to be seen as successful, I had to be better than I was. I took this to mean that as I am now, I wasn’t be quite good enoughFrom there, things snowballed pretty quickly. From juvenile misdemeanors, to speaking to myself in really negative ways, emotional eating and drinking which lead to weight gain and poor body image, all the while acting in ways which weren’t true to myself.
The next 11 years saw me lead an uninspiring and unhappy life. Being treated for depression and anxiety, working in menial jobs that sucked the life out of me and essentially avoiding life left me feeling empty with absolutely no self-esteem or happiness. I got to a point that is common among people, who feel this way where I was officially sick and tired of being sick and tired.
I began to look at society and became curious about how people became happy, because what I was doing certainly wasn’t working.
I thought if I could look a certain way, then I would feel good enough. So I started a mission that transformed my entire life.
I took control of my body and lost over 35 kilos. I got fit and began a strict eating regime. Six years later, I won a Novice Heavyweight Mr Queensland title. After achieving a goal I worked so hard to reach, I thought I would finally feel good enough. I was wrong.
Society told me to be respected and successful male, I needed big muscles, a nice car, pretty girls, lots of money and power.
So I searched for the next goal to reach. I decided I needed to get a good job. Not an easy task for a person with no qualifications. Perhaps out of pity, I was given a casual job at a family member’s gym. I decided if I became an established personal trainer I would feel worthy of my own expectations. I did that, and then some.
In addition to building my career as a personal trainer, I engaged a team of nutritionists, dietitians and trainers. Together we were servicing thousands of clients across the country. I was beginning to feel a lot better about my life, however the story my mind was telling me still wasn’t true!
If external success, money or physical appearance was going to make me happy, it well and truly should have by this point. Don’t get me wrong, I think all of these things are a nice addition to your life, but individually will not create lasting happiness.
I began looking inside, and challenging my inner critic that was constantly comparing me to others and telling me I’m wasn’t good enough. I came to learn the only way I will ever feel good enough is when I treat myself like I matter.
By being yourself – and not beating yourself up for it – you are reiterating through your actions that it is okay to be you!
Once you’ve reached this understanding, you can enjoy all of the external things in life, all the while knowing deep down these thing don’t make any difference to who you are or what you’re worth.
If I could have my time again, I’d tell that little boy that was shamed for wanting to be a paramedic that it’s okay to be yourself. In fact, it’s the only thing you are here to be!
Anthony Noud is the director of PURE & LEAN, specialising in nutrition and mindset coaching. They deliver Health, Happiness and Harmony from the inside out by looking at your nutrition, exercise and mindset and aligning these with your purpose.