If you feel like it take a moment and walk through a bookstore, scroll through some podcasts, or just check out the entrepreneurial community online a bit, and you will blatantly see that the self-help community appears to be running rampant. It is as though humankind has a desire to improve itself in life consistently. I find this expectation and culture a bit odd and attractive all at the same time. Self-help and self-improvement are ideas I enjoy and the people that come with them I appreciate as well.
I was observing and contemplating this culture as of late, and I was thinking about how intriguingly similar the self-help realm is to the culture surrounding body building. Instead of a physical body though, replace it with one that is composed of "invisible things" such as your mental, spiritual, and internal integrity and strength. It is the hidden muscles that help you confront the daily mental, spiritual, and moral struggles of life. They both have a common goal though of being in their optimal form and are willing to push through discomfort to get there.
Have you ever sat down and pondered about the strength of your invisible body? Are you weak or strong when it comes to self-control? What about your ability to communicate articulately? Do your words have weight? Have you ever struggled to describe the feelings that are welling up within you? Well, guess what!? All of those are part of your invisible body. Just like your physical body is made up of a multitude of matter, ever so similarly is the makeup of your invisible body.
I hold to the belief that the hidden skills of self-control, emotional intelligence, humility, openness, and much more are all types of muscles that need to be worked out just like your physical muscles. Would you let your bicep atrophy due to laziness and no longer be able to pick objects up? I doubt it! Yet, it is common in today's culture to neglect many aspects of our invisible body and let them shrink or just straight up disappear. I also believe that just like working out for your physical body, your invisible body needs a balanced workout. I think the statement goes "Friends don't let friends miss leg day." What this is referring to is in the gym culture, there is a value for balance and a desire to have a proportionate body. If all you do is work out your arms and chest, you will look like you have chicken legs. A good healthy being is not just big biceps and chest, no, it is a whole body that has been efficiently and effectively pushed to its limits consistently and taken care of via nutrition, proper workout methods, and the appropriate amounts of rest.
So you might be asking a few questions like these.
- How do I find out how able my invisible body is?
- How does one go about strengthening these intangible skills?
- Does this influence everyone?
- Is this just spiritual bull-shit?
- If it is invisible what does it matter?
Those are just a few questions I am sure that are popping up in your head right currently, but for now, I am going to break the steps of invisible body building down into three phases. So for this first segment, we are going to discuss discovering and testing your limits.
You see when you want to start working out and going to the gym to get buff or toned a useful tool is to know your limitations. Finding this out gives you a starting point. This is important as you need a benchmark where you can look back to find proof that you are making progress because everyone needs some encouragement during their journey of life.
So after all that rigamarole, here are some ways that you can test what your invisible bodies limits. Now, these do not cover every area of life but are a good few starting points that I think will help sober any soul into the reality that we reside in.
Determine the weight of your words.
This might seem odd to you initially, but the amount of value you put behind your words influences a significant amount of your life. So, it is important to find out how much value and follow through occurs when you say you will take action.
So how do you do that? Start by setting a small tangible goal for something you have meant to do but just have not "had the time" for. Then, make sure to tell no-one, that way your reputation is not on the line. Doing this allows you to pinpoint the unseen muscle of integrity. The only reason why you will keep this goal is for yourself and to be a man of your own word. If you cannot keep your word when only you are involved how can you expect yourself to keep it when others are? This will also make expose the fact that when other are involved you only keep your word to keep face and not for integrities sake.
So, if you fail to keep your goal do not get discouraged, set a new easier goal and start from there. Something as simple as telling yourself that you will make your bed for a week can be your aim. It is just important that you are doing it purely for you.
After a few self-trials, you may not be able to keep a simple goal that you set. Even though that may be frustrating at least now you know this is an area of life that needs strengthening. We will touch on how to do that in the next article Part 2, but now you know how much you value your word when no-one else is involved. This is the starting point and is highly valuable.
The anger breath.
The anger breath is straightforward and challenging all at the same time. Testing this will expose the strength of your self-control and emotional intelligence.
The next time at work, home, or just out in the world when you get angry, stop yourself before acting on it and take a breath. Why? Because if you can force yourself to take a breath, this will allow you time to assess why you are upset. Instead of giving into road rage and flipping the bird to the next person who does not drive exactly how you want them to, ask yourself why does it infuriate you that someone else's driving which you do not find acceptable gives you the permission to lose your temper? Is it their driving? Or is it the fact that your boss has been riding you about a recent deadline, your parents have been pushing you to get out of debt, or your friends went camping without you, and your feelings were hurt. Take a nice long deep breath and find out why you are angry. Once you have discovered the source of your anger you may be surprised.
Having the ability to take a breath and self-assess while being angry is a great plumb line for you to find out how weak or strong you are when it comes to not only controlling your anger but understanding it. Finding out why you are getting angry will expose what you need to work on. We will cover how to strengthen and grow in Part 2, but for now, you know where you stand which is highly important!
Emotional intelligence is a huge part of this hypothetical "invisible body." So one of many ways to test your EQ is discussing with an intimate friend about it.
Yep, that's right; this next test is a bit hard for most men. Find a close friend or someone you want to be close with and try talking about things you have not told anyone or very few people. I can guarantee that when you sit down and discuss with a friend more intimate details about your life, you will instantly be sobered up to how strong or weak you are in this area. Make sure you trust this person and that they will not take advantage of you before you do this, but see how emotionally "naked" you can get. Now be appropriate and aware of the situation but still push yourself as necessary.
Doing this in a safe environment will show you if this is a strength or weakness for you.
There are many other ways to test your invisible body, and I hope you take the time to do so. I just wanted to lay out a couple of examples to get you headed in the right direction. I do want to note that this articles tone is written for the target audience of men but also does apply to women.
Please look for and read Part 2 after completing this article!