I’ve heard this phrase repeated by a friend a few times: “I go to the gym to deal with my demons.” What does it mean?
When I try to deconstruct this phrase and define “demons,” I think of issues in the person’s past. Shortcomings, faults, emotional turmoil, and other abstract issues pertaining to the self come to mind. But is there more to this?
“To deal with..” in this scenario means what? To forget about? To mend? If it means to fix, how can one deal with their “demons” in a place completely unrelated to their internal issues in the first place? Could it be that my friend had issues relating to his physique as a child and now wants to fight those issues from childhood in the gym as an adult? In that case is he mending the problem? Do new muscles erase the painful, lasting, memories of childhood? Were those memories around self-esteem and self-respect? Can the gym be the true solution for problems surrounding self-esteem and self-respect which originates in the mind?
Now I do agree that physical fitness and gym discipline have a strong impact on mental health and self-esteem. But for issues originating in the mind, particularly in the case of self-esteem, whats to say another aspect of that persons life won’t compromise their self-esteem in the future. Let’s say a person who always had an issue with their physique and what it portrayed eventually decides to go to the gym, bulk up, and arrives at their ideal body. Now what? Are they perfect in the eyes of judgement? Or is their brain now looking for other things to feed their low self-esteem? Perhaps they now think they are extremely dumb compared to their peers. This is now what haunts their self-esteem and gradually lowers all the impact working out has made. What now? They read more books, they study more, and intensify their research on topics of interest? And what comes after gaining that new intelligence? They wished they dressed better? Is this how self-esteem is built? One component of life at a time? But do the components that you can mend ever run out? Or is it a cycle continuously propagated by your low self-esteem? Is there a root cause that you can alter so that you start forgiving yourself for the shortcomings in certain aspects of your life?
I believe that self-esteem is how you think of yourself in the toughest of situations. It’s your conviction in your beliefs, actions, characteristics, and mentality. Your internal compass when shit gets thrown in your face. The more treacherous, daunting, and difficult a situation is, the more your self-esteem will be revealed to you. Because ultimately, it is your conviction in yourself; How you view and value yourself. This is only revealed when it must because we don’t think about how we think about our self. It’s subconscious. So is it this that is causing us to have all these problems in our life? The fact that we can’t realize or define the root of our issues? Is this the demon for my friend?
If I don’t have a proper foundation for self-esteem how can I ever seek to mend it with band-aid accomplishments or by forgetting about it in a period of activity? And if self-esteem issues really are the demon, in this particular case, isn’t the proper course of action meditation and reflection on how self-esteem is impacting the mind and actions? Isn’t it time to focus your thoughts on discovering the root of your self-esteem instead of working to ignore it at the gym? Now, this is a totally hypothetical situation. My friend’s demons could be entirely unrelated to self-esteem. But if “to deal with” means to forget, and the issues really are about a deeper problem that can’t be fixed with a bandaid solution such as self esteem, is this really the right way about going on in life? To postpone difficult conversations with the self?
And what other demons are we dealing with daily that we are simply forgetting and applying band-aids for? What sort of important discussion with myself am I postponing? Am I dealing with a demon right now while writing this? Perhaps, you, when reading this?