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Friday, November 18, 2011

Core Strength

"The turning point in the process of growing up
is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt."

Max Lerner

"Core Strength" is all the buzz these days. What I'm learning in the world of fitness, it's all about strengthening the core of the human body - the abs and back muscles that are so deep they attach to the spine and pelvis. It is the foundation from which all other movement occurs; it is the physical center of a person's body. When the core is strong, everything else works much better, easier, with less effort or struggle.

Before I could get to a place where I could even consider working on my core physical strength, I had to first examine my core emotional and spiritual strength.

The Emotional Core

My emotional core was severely damaged at a very young age due to some life trauma.

I spent a lifetime feeling "less than" everyone else. I wasn't good, I wasn't good enough. At my core was shame. I couldn't seem to do or be enough to satisfy my inner longing to be accepted and loved. I looked outside for external validation for everything from how smart I was, to how I looked, to how funny I was, to the kind of job I had. I needed someone outside of myself to tell me I was okay, and sadly, even if they did tell me that, at my core, I did not believe them.

The core belief that I was "less than" led me to accept "less than" in my marriage(s). It led me to accept "less than" my dreams. It led me to accept "less than" living up to the potential I was created to reach. Fortunately for me, a friend came into my life that helped debunk those core beliefs.

She loved me. She didn't love me IF I looked, acted, behaved, performed a certain way. She didn't love me despite all my inherent badness (that I thought I had.) She didn't love me IF I loved her back a certain way. She didn't love me conditionally IF I met her needs, jumped through hoops, and met some certain standard. She just loved me and said, "I love who you are. Period. It has nothing to do with any choice you have ever made or will ever make on any given day." And somehow that reached deep into the core of my being and broke something loose. I believed her.

That one conversation opened up the floodgates to another area in my life.

The Spiritual Core

I was raised Catholic. I still love many of the traditions of Catholicism and although I no longer call myself Catholic, there is a tremendous respect I have for the religion. However, at least in my case, I never really understood the concepts of "grace" or "mercy" fully. To me, the message I received was that all humans are bad, miserable failures, there's not a thing we can do about it, but we better keep trying. When we screw up, we must do penance, repent, and try hard to not do it again, only to know deep down we are miserable sinners who are going to fail. But have no fear, despite our inherent badness, God loves us anyway.

Whether intentional or not, or whether my own mind played a part in the interpretation, that is the basic message I spent my life believing.

Now, after understanding the grace and mercy of a friend, I began to understand God's grace and God's mercy. Through the love of a friend, I suddenly realized that right now, today, exactly where I am, regardless of anything I did or said or that happened to me yesterday, I am perfectly loved. I realized that all these imperfections are part of the perfect plan! I had a clean slate. Yesterday was really, truly gone and there was no need whatsoever to worry about it. Today, I am good, good enough, and there was absolutely no reason to carry around all that shame. There's a song I love that expresses it so well:

The Next Right Choice - MY Core

Slowly, over the past few years, I have been moving toward an incredible new life. New thoughts, new patterns of behaving, new friends, a new house, a new town. I even got a new job. It feels like the past is very far behind me now.

But what else is true is that the core of shame is not entirely gone. It hangs around, lurking, waiting for an opportunity to jump in and take over my thoughts and feelings.

Through some trial and error, however, I have come to understand that it is entirely within my power to keep it at bay and to keep myself moving forward into the life I have always wanted. And it all comes down to making the "Next Right Choice" today.

  • For today, I choose to walk by faith, because for me, that is what works. Because when I am plugged in to my spiritual self, I am stronger. My core is filled with hope, strength, life and light.

  • For today, I choose to try to eat healthy. Because when my core food choices are healthy, it creates a foundation from which my mind makes better choices and on which my body can function with more energy.

  • For today, I choose to get moving. I work the abs, the back, the legs, the arms, and the heart. Because when at my core there is a stronger body, I can move better throughout the day. I have energy to keep going and do all those things I want to do. I can carry myself out into the world, explore it, and participate in it...fully.


If you ask me, core strength is pretty darned important! I encourage everyone to examine their core beliefs about themselves, their core beliefs about their spiritual lives, and to act consistently with what rings true for you. Living authentically, being true to who you are, and not letting the world rob you of your THAT is Core Strength!

1 comment:

Sorry to make you type in the "word verification" but I have been getting a ton of spammers lately. Just type in the word that you see and it should go through.


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