Beginning the Journey: Defining a New Normal

You are not your body. Let me say that again in case you didn’t catch it the first time. You are NOT your body!

Now repeat after me: “I AM NOT MY BODY!”

While we all know this to be true in theory, it seems to be a very difficult concept to grasp and apply on a concrete, practical level. We generally tend to see ourselves as a physical, visible entity rather than as a very personal but invisible soul and spirit. After all, what do we generally see when we look in the mirror? We see a physical being; we see what’s on the outside of our true self. If we like what we see – if we view our external body as attractive – we tend to think well of ourselves and to have a positive self image. If on the other hand, we don’t like what we see – if we think we are ugly and unattractive – we tend to have a poorer self image.

This same emphasis on our physical bodies influences how we shape our concept of what is “normal” in terms of our health and fitness and our general physical capabilities. Of course, what is normal varies from individual to individual, but we all tend to describe “normal” in terms of what we could do physically when we were in our prime years: say between the ages of 20 and 30.

Well, guess what: we’re not 20 or 30 anymore, and we can’t still do all of the things we could do at that age. At least we can’t do them as well or as fast. However, many people never allow their “normal” to change as they get older. Instead, they get frustrated and discouraged because when they slow down and wear out physically, they are no longer “normal” in their own eyes. Don’t be one of those people.

Do the personal assessment exercise that Tina suggests here; then based on where you are physically right now, define a new normal. Be honest. Then, if you’re not satisfied with your new normal and you’d like to make some changes, set realistic, measurable short-term goals (in areas that you can change) that will start you on a path toward where you’d like to be.

Be realistic in setting goals for where you’d like to be. There may be some things you’d like to change – some areas you’d like to improve in — that are simply out of reach and not possible. Don’t frustrate yourself by trying to change something that can’t be changed due to circumstances beyond your control.

Here’s a well-known prayer that you might want to make a part of your daily routine: “God, please grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Tina and I both have “new normals” in our lives that we wish we could change, but that are permanent irreversible physical disabilities that occurred in our lives after we passed the half-century mark. We will be sharing some of these life-changing experiences in future posts.

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