In the past, a gym membership was not something that many people had, and while this was partly because of the cost, it was also due to the fact that there wasn’t as much pressure on people to exercise. This is not to say that people have only recently been encouraged to exercise; what it comes down to is that there is now a greater focus on how people look.
During this time, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see a man use weights, but the same can’t be said about a woman. If they were using weights, it could have been a sign that they were some kind of athlete, for instance.
Nowadays, it is not going to be much of a surprise to see a woman using weights, and this is because it is has become so common. Through using weights, it will allow a woman to change the shape of her body or to simply tone up.
They may even want to develop a muscular physique, and in this case, they are going to come into contact with men who have the same intention. Yet, even though they can develop this kind of physique, it doesn’t mean they are going to be labelled in a negative way.
What this means is that a woman no longer needs to have muscles that are undeveloped in order to be seen as a woman. She can lift weights and have a strong body, and not have to worry about losing her femininity in the process.
Whereas, a short while ago, women were often reluctant to lift weights, and this is because they didn’t want to ‘look like a man’. There was also the fear that if they used weights, their chest would also turn to muscle.
This outer change has also been a reflection of the inner changes that each gender has been going through and how there is often less pressure on them to act or to look a certain way.
Therefore, just because a man doesn’t have muscular physique, it doesn’t mean he is not a man, and when a woman does, it doesn’t mean she is no longer a woman. And along with this, it is also easier for men to show their sensitive side and for women to express their inner strength.
As a result of this, men and women have greater freedom to be themselves as opposed to having the need to play a certain role. They can express their true-self, and the more people do this, the easier it will be for people to be authentic.
However, this is clearly a process and not something that happens overnight. But based on how the world has changed in a short period of time, it shows that important changes have already occurred.
The Need to Belong
There was a time where one could look at the people who exercised without feeling too much pressure, and this is partly because not as many people used to exercise. This has now changed though.
Therefore, if one doesn’t exercise, they can end up feeling the need to start exercising in order to belong. What this shows is how much of an influence one’s society has on them, and not only can they experience this pressure when they go out, they can also experience this pressure when they go online.
When one goes on social media, for instance, there is a strong chance that they will be exposed to not only pictures of people, but also videos of them. And what appears on their news feed can have an effect on the kind of person they are and who they will become.
In this sense, they will not only be conditioned when they go out into the world, they will also be conditioned when they go online. For example, if one sees that their friends have a certain look; they can then end up having the need to have the same look in order to be accepted.
Having said that, this can all depend on one's sense of self and if they are in a position where they are able to accept themselves as they are. In this case, there will be less chance of them getting caught up in what other people do.
With that aside, when one exercise, they are likely to feel more confident about themselves. On one side, this can occur through being healthier and having the kind of the body that one wants, and on the other side, this can also be the result of one receiving positive feedback from others.
Once one has been exercising for a certain period of time or once they have been able to develop the kind of body they want, they can end up criticising people who don’t exercise. However, even if someone does exercise, they can end up putting them down because they don’t look a certain way.
What this will show is it that they believe that everyone should have the same kind of body, and if they don’t, they are then seen as being inferior. This can also be a sign that it is not possible for them to accept people as they are.
Different On Outside, Same on The Inside
When this happens and one has been able to develop the kind of body they want (or even if they are just trying to develop the kind of body they want), it could mean that they are carrying toxic shame, and this is going to cause them to feel worthless. This could have been the primary reason why they wanted to exercise in the beginning.
Time has then passed and they look different on the outside, but they can still feel the same on the inside. When they see someone who has a body that doesn’t match up with the idea they have of how a body should look, it can remind them of how they used to look.
Through disconnecting from their toxic shame, they can then direct it outwards, and this will cause them to shame others. When one disconnects from their toxic shame, they can also disconnect from their healthy shame and the rest of their emotions.
It is then going to be a challenge for them to empathise with others, and it will be normal for them to see themselves as superior. Healthy shame is something that allows one to realise they are neither better nor worse than others.
What this shows is that if one feels as though they are worthless, they are not necessarily going to change how they feel by changing how they look. The only thing this may do is cover up how they feel and cause them to direct their pain onto others.
Another approach will be for one to work through how they feel, and this can take place with the assistance of a therapist and/or a support group. It takes inner strength to push one’s body to the limit, and the same can be said when it comes to facing one’s emotional pain.
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Oliver JR Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.