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I was addicted. Which at the time, I believed was a good thing. Because I was doing ALLLLLLL the things. I was reading all the books. I was writing my goals every day, I was obsessed with being “better.” So obsessed that one year I told myself I wasn’t even allowed to take a vacation because I had not “earned it” yet.  Now, if you are new to my world, you probably cannot appreciate how wild that is for someone like me to refuse to go on a trip.

But that was my life. Feeling superior to anyone else who was not addicted like me. Like they were below me because they were average, pretending to enjoy life but feeling miserable on the inside because they wanted more. For SO long, I thought this type of thinking was right and that it would be what made me “successful” while all the other people (sheep, I called them at the time) would get left behind. I was addicted to personal development, and that irony has never slapped me harder in the face than it does right now.

“On the one hand, we all want to be happy. On the other hand, we all know the things that make us happy. But we don’t do those things. Why? Simple. We are too busy. Too busy doing what? Too busy trying to be happy.” – Matthew Kelly

Sometimes I get really frustrated with myself for how long it took me to figure this out. But then, of course, I realized the irony in that too – that “figuring it out” is what it is all about. All of it. I want to stray away from cliches like “there is no destination” and “trust the process” and “enjoy the journey.” But honestly, that’s the real flex. As played out as these quotes are – they are the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

As someone with a Type A personality who is also a high achiever, I have to remind myself of this truth ALL THE TIME. And by all the time, I do literally mean every day of my life. Maybe I will not have to remind myself forever, but me being determined to set an end date only shows my type A, high-achieving ass even more.

I am talking about this because as a Healthy, Big and Black woman on a mission to empower other black women, I want you to know that I get it. I get the feeling that no matter how hard you are working, you still are not where you want to be in life. I get the constant barrage of thoughts that question if you are enough, if you are doing the right thing and saying you should have “figured this out by now.” I know the shame, guilt and frustration of not having that “successful” life yet.

What I also now know is that focusing on the external will only result in more of those same thoughts and feelings. Being obsessed with hitting certain goals, acquiring more physical things and measuring your value based on your looks, achievements and number of social media followers is a long road to staying right where the f*ck you are in life.

I have always loved this African proverb I heard Les Brown say once “If there is no enemy within, the enemy outside can do us no harm.” Yet, it has taken me almost seven years into my personal development journey to fully grasp its meaning and power. (And who knows, maybe I still haven’t and it will take me another seven years). What I’m talking about is the meaning and power of doing the inner work.

There are a gazillion articles, books, events, and social profiles that give you ALLLLLLL the tips on how to be more successful and create the life you want. And don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using any of them. In fact, I have learned some of my most important life lessons from those resources and highly recommend incorporating at least some of them into your everyday life. But the real difference maker and my number one recommendation is to go within. You already have all the answers; the question is, have you sat with yourself long enough to tap into them?

Self-awareness is probably the most underestimated and undervalued character trait in the living world. It is also what has had the most impact on my life, and what is the secret behind my personal growth. And the cool thing is, it literally applies to every aspect of your life, and it is the first and only step to becoming the Healthy, Big, and Black woman want to be. It may sound like I am exaggerating, so let me give you a few examples.

Imagine that you really want to change your eating habits, but are unaware of how and why you choose certain foods all the time, despite “wanting” to make better choices. Imagine not being conscious of the fact that certain foods are tied to your culture, and you feel like you are betraying it by avoiding them. Let’s make it more tangible and say imagine not recognizing that every time you feel stressed about work, your default action is to eat ice cream. Or that when you think about eating out, your thoughts default to fast food because that is how you were raised and it has been a habit for decades of your life.

Imagine that you want to be bold and stop shrinking your true self, not realizing that when you get around certain people, you are afraid to be the real you. Imagine that you have these big goals, but every time you think about them, you immediately talk or think yourself out of even trying because no one in your family or friend circle has done anything like it before.

Imagine wanting to create a consistent exercise routine, not realizing that the reason it has been so hard for you to stick with it before is because you actually hate the workouts you have been doing. You have simply been following along with what diet culture has told you for so long that you do not even know what it is like to move your body simply because it makes you feel f*cking amazing.

Imagine you want to have a fun and loving relationship with your partner, yet you are unknowingly sabotaging it by constantly criticizing everything that is wrong, trying to control and “fix” everything.

Imagine constantly trying to be “better” when you are already perfect just the way you are.

I told you self-awareness was underestimated, right? And if you are wondering what the hell you are supposed to do now after reading all of that, know that YOU ARE ALREADY DOING IT. While reading those scenarios, you were being aware of your habitual thoughts and actions, realizing their impact on your life.

All you need to do now is keep doing that. Because what will really change your life is the inner work – going within, paying attention to your thoughts, being aware of what you have been subconsciously saying, believing and doing every day that is holding you back from living your best Healthy, Big, and Black life.

You can keep taking tangible actions; but I invite you to pause a little more often and simply examine, without judgment. I promise you will be MIND BLOWN as your mindset starts to shift.

If you are ready to make that shift, make sure you tap into my free mini course, Experience a Healthy Mind and Body (Without Dieting).

Bianca Lynch

Bianca is a Social Media Strategist and Consultant on a mission to empower business owners to use their authentic voice to increase brand visibility and stand out on social media. She has helped entrepreneurs, agencies and corporations dramatically increase their online presence, gain high-quality leads and drive sales revenue with digital marketing. Her expertise is helping businesses build simple, yet effective social media strategies that align with their unique business goals.

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