Pita – “I’m tough, Creasy.”
Creasy- “There’s no such thing as tough, there’s only trained and untrained.”
This dialogue is from the movie ‘Man on Fire’. Creasy, played by Denzel Washington, is teaching nine-year-old Pita (Dakota Fanning) to be unafraid of the sound of the starting pistol as it fires a shot to signal the start of a swimming race. This scene turns out to be the crux of the movie because, later on, Pita gets kidnapped and her training with Creasy (spoiler) may be what saves her life.
While coping with depression, anxiety and eating disorders, I remember thinking I was tough and resilient. I figured I could just ‘tough it out’ and eventually overcome my problems, but year after year, I struggled. I had the desire, the determination, but I had the belief that I was born with certain personality traits, that these struggles were just a part of who I was.
I innately knew my parents didn’t teach me about self-esteem, integrity, or what it took to be successful. They did the best they could, but they were busy fighting their own demons and trying to make ends meet . They had the belief they were not meant to be too successful or even too happy. I followed in their footsteps until I finally realized that just because I wasn’t born with certain qualities or hadn’t been taught them, didn’t mean I could not acquire them at this time in my life.
Many people fall into the category of thinking all they need is toughness and persistence to ‘make it through’ their ordeal. Each day they hope for a better outcome than yesterday, they think persistence and determination is all that is needed. Persistence is a great attribute to have, but if you are persistent in going the wrong direction, you will never get where you want to go.
I don’t believe life is made to be “toughed out.” I believe we are made to thrive and be happy. And the only thing we need to make this happen is a belief that we can learn how to overcome our weaknesses. This takes our undesirable behavior out of the realm of shame and puts it, blamelessly, into the realm of acquiring knowledge. Once you step out of that sphere of guilt and self-loathing, nothing can stop you from obtaining what you need to be happy and healthy.
You can train yourself to be content, to stop bingeing, to love yourself, or anything you desire. Any attribute you think you lack, you can acquire. You don’t need to have been born with a special personality, you don’t need to lose weight first. You don’t need tons of people around you to tell you to ‘hang in there.’ You can do more than just ‘hang in there’. All you need is the belief that you can teach yourself those life lessons you thought you missed out on, and you can fly.
Assess the attributes you think you need to be successful in whatever you want to do. Be honest, don’t underestimate your good traits. Find sources of inspiration and teach yourself to pay attention to the positive messages. You can be trained or untrained, its up to you.
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“My past has no hold on me unless I let it.”