The Deadpool Guide to Self-Love

This is a guest post from Camp Nerd Fitness Headmaster Amy Clover SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen Deadpool, for the love of gawd go watch it already, then get your ass back here. 

We can all resonate with Deadpool at least a little bit.

For whatever reasons, we run around hiding our faces because we’re convinced — if someone sees who we really are — they’ll run in the other direction.

My whole life, I’ve hidden who I am because I thought I was “supposed” to be different: changing my body, my interests, the way I talked, the way my brain worked, who I was, in order to be worthy.

After every breakup, I’d run to the gym to cardio myself to death because *obviously* it was my body’s fault he didn’t stick around. I realize now how incredibly effed that is. I just thought that was what I needed to do to be liked and loved.

Note from Steve: For some, this can manifest itself in the belief that being bigger and stronger or more ripped will solve all of our confidence/happiness problems. In short, it’s the feeling of being “forever small.”

The idea that we need to be a certain way in order to be validated is a story we tell ourselves. One that gets us nowhere and nothing. Mine was about my body, but maybe yours has to do with needing to be seen as the “funny friend” or “smart one” – maybe you feel the need to achieve certain milestones to establish your worth (wealth, the status of a certain job, or the respect that comes with having a family or partner).

Without validation from others, I was worthless. It was only when someone else loved me that I thought I was worth anything at all. And I was always surprised when I couldn’t keep my mask on all the time (doing and being all those things that weren’t really me).

Just like Deadpool, we’ve gotta make peace with who’s under that mask.

My wish is that you get to the end of this post confident in your next steps to finally taste the Daffodil Daydream of your own being… that came out wrong… or did it?
Ready to turn your horror movie into a love story? Here’s the Deadpool guide to loving yourself. Not literally, though.

Step 1: Investigate “You”

Question-400x600

You’ve probably heard the term “authentic self.” While it may make you want to gag from even uttering mouthful of such new age woo-dom, it’s something most of us should pay more attention to.

When Wade Wilson wakes up deformed after all the tests Ajax has done on him, he’s crushed. Though he had no control over what happened to him, he determines he’s no longer lovable because of how he turns out. His self-worth is instantly reduced to zero.

Deadpool’s experience is just like any trauma that’s happened to us, be it bullying, abuse, ultra-painful rejection or simply living a life to meet the expectations of others. Instead of seeing and accepting the way we really are, we react with fear, anger, or a sense of defeat.

These experiences shape the beliefs we have about ourselves, some of the most common being that we have to look a certain way to be worthy, we’re not enough, we’re a burden, we have nothing important to say, we’re worthless, and a whole bunch of other horrible things we’d never ever say to anyone else. We start to believe we have to know the perfect thing to say and do in every situation, instead of just being ourselves. Are you you? Or the “you” you think the world wants?

Maybe you were made fun of for being skinny, so now you feel you have to be buff to be worthy of positive attention, or you lost someone way before their time and now you’re afraid everyone will leave you without warning, so you cling to people. Maybe something horrible happened to you, and now you’re constantly on the lookout for danger, anticipating it in situations where there isn’t a threat (which can keep you from true intimacy). These beliefs are strong; they feel like the truth. But they’re not.

Here’s the truth: These experiences happen to us, but they are not who we are.

The real you – the person you are right here and right now – is pure f***ing worth. Every single person on this earth, exactly as they are, no matter how “deformed,” is worthy of happiness.
While it’s easy to read that and understand it logically, it’s a whole other beast to start believing it.

Make peace with your “Deformities”

The first step to embracing your “deformities” – the stuff you think needs changing – is to truly face what they are. You have a few options; pick your poison:

Deadpool-cover

1) Write it out

If you’ve ever gone to Strong Inside Out, you’ll know I’m a biiiiiiig fan of journaling. It’s helped me work through my own “deformities.” Here’s how to start:

  1. Open a Google Doc.
  2. Write down whatever’s bothering you for 5 minutes.

Not the most intricate of tools, but incredibly helpful for processing what happened, how you feel, and tearing apart the beliefs fear has instilled in you. You never have to share your notes with another soul if you don’t want to.

Those of us who are really proud might not be able to bring ourselves to write down the things that bother us. It’s easier to throw our hands up and say “this is all nonsense” than admit we don’t feel like we’re enough.

When we refuse to face things that bring us pain, we give them more power. The terror increases because we’re sure if we look at it, it will destroy us.

I’ve got some news for you, friend: you are not some fragile little flower. You are ALIVE, and here to level up your life.

Heroes don’t shy away from their problems, they face them. You can’t deal with what you refuse to face. Seeing your fears and beliefs out on paper makes them less ambiguous and can help you see them for what they really are; it helps to take away some of their power over you.

You need to get it out so you can look it in the eyes like the badass you are. This is the only way to deal with the issue in the long run – turning to a diet or whatever other fear-based shortcut you come up with (getting a pump before you go out), just won’t work in the long run.

2) Physical attributes don’t define your self-worth

…no matter what David Beckham sounds like when he talks, or how Ryan Reynolds got so far in the acting world.

A lot of us hide who we really are because we think we’re supposed to look different. We feel shame about not looking like the 5% of people depicted as beautiful in the media, and society ain’t helping.

You’ll read a lot of propaganda on the interwebs about why you should look different than you do (often so they can make money) and how to do it by totally wrecking your health (Steve recently wrote about this). When you aim for physical goals aligned with love for who you truly are and the healthiest version of you — rather than needing to look different to be worthy — it can be a truly positive experience. When it’s based in needing to be good enough, however, it almost always leads to disastrous ends.

Whether you’re looking to achieve big physical changes, or going after some status in your career, you cannot shame yourself into positive changes. The energy doesn’t add up. You’ve gotta embrace what you’ve got, even if you plan to change it (in a healthy way).

To do this, explore the real reason you think you need to change. In the case of your body – explore your “need to look perfect”:

Is it because you think perfect people have their shit together? They don’t. That’s their own particular mask to fool the world.

Is it because you think your problems will disappear when you become “perfect?” First of all, there is no “perfect.” Second of all, they might… and new troubles will come in to take their place.

Is it because you’ve always been taught you need to look that way to be attractive? That this is how you achieve acceptance and status?

A great exercise to break through this mindset is to actively focus for one full day on finding beauty in real people around you. Not just superficial beauty, but real, heart-expanding beauty inside and out.

Ugh I just set off my own gag reflex. What I mean to say is go out and find something that gives your heart a hard on… or heart on???

Deadpool

Jot down what you find throughout the day. I bet you’ll be surprised just how many forms beauty can take.

Remember what Vanessa said, “It’s just a face” (or a body). Your worth runs so much deeper.

3. Stop one-upping your pain

When I was really struggling, I knew no one had it as bad as me. I held all the pain inside, refusing to talk about it because I knew no one would understand. Whenever anyone said they had it hard, I always had my own version of “ball gags, brownie mix and clown porn” to argue back with.

Whatever we focus on becomes our reality. I fought for my own pain, which made me live in it every single day. What I didn’t realize was that just like Deadpool, I could fight for something else. When I chose to fight for healing instead, my reality shifted.

There’s a certain sick satisfaction we get by thinking we’re alone and in more pain than those around us. It feeds our egos and fears, giving us a sense of “terminal uniqueness”; we think we’re so different that we’re beyond help and incapable of change.

While I believe you are indeed a complex, distinct snowflake-of-a-being, you are never so broken that you’re beyond help and change. To tell yourself that is to give up on any purposeful happiness you might create.

Talk It Out

talkitout

The reason we hide from who we really are is that we are ashamed of it. Our old (false) beliefs are so strong, they’ve made our truth revolting to us.

Every single superhero-in-training (X-Men especially) deals with this. It’s the natural outcome of our society. Maybe you’re scared you’ll never have the job you want. Maybe something happened in the past you’ve never fully processed, or maybe you just don’t know how to talk about the thoughts that go through your head that you think you’re ‘not supposed’ to think.

Talking to someone who’s got your best interests in mind is probably the most healing thing you could ever do. If you read my last post here, you know how big a fan of therapy I am. While I know that’s not the most welcome option for everyone, it’s been the single most helpful aspect of my personal recovery (and many others’ whom I’ve helped along the way).

That said, if it’s not your thing, there are other options with less stigma attached to them. For instance, online chat platforms are available for free or for very little and they can be a great way to get comfortable with talking about your stuff before you talk about it with someone in person. You can talk with trained listeners or real therapists online 24/7. A few examples are 7 Cups, Talkspace or BlahTherapy. Please keep in mind that non-therapist listeners won’t always have the answers you crave, but their hearts are usually in the right place.

Still iffy about therapy even if it’s online? Find your Weasel.

Weasel is the only person Deadpool really opens up to because he’s a good listener and he’s got his back no matter what. Usually, you’ll know when you’ve found your Weasel, but if you’re still on the lookout, here’s the ad to post in your brain’s classifieds:

  • Is a good listener: Doesn’t constantly interrupt, tell you you’re wrong or judge you, actually hears what you’re saying (instead of “Uh-huh”-ing you to death).
  • Can put ego aside: Lots of us are fixers, but sometimes we just need to talk stuff out so we can better understand it. You should feel comfortable saying, “Do you mind just listening to me for a few minutes? I need to talk through this,” and know this person will.
  • Keeps things private: Trust this person enough to keep things between you quiet.
  • Wants the best for you: When Ajax came into the bar and snagged the pic of Vanessa, Weasel told Wade right away. You want someone who’s going to look out for you, even if that means they lovingly call you out when nasty stuff like fear is threatening to ransack your life.

When Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead come to your aid, let them help. I know it’s scary, trust me. But the benefits far outweigh the risks.

Four or Five Moments

sideways deadpool

Let’s just put this out there: change is HARD. If it was easy, you’d be all sunshine and rainbows by now.

The recommendations I’m making here require you to get down and dirty with stuff you may not have looked at in a long time. Scary stuff. Here’s where I’m going to defer to Colossus…

Four or five moments is all it takes to become the hero of your own life.

Those moments might be extremely uncomfortable at first, but you have to stay with them — to sit with whatever demands to be felt — in order to move past them for good.
Most people don’t push through these moments. They avoid them, looking for quick-fix solutions that are more comfortable than dealing with the real stuff. And to their surprise, they always land back in this state of defeat. This is why they feel like they’re incapable of change. We need to focus on the real, root cause:

Diet plans focus on the symptom of overeating, but not on the reasons why we use food to escape life.

Some personal development rhetoric focuses on positive affirmations that completely contradict what you feel about yourself, ringing untrue and actually working you deeper into dark thoughts.

When we try to change our lives with these methods, we come to believe we are failures because they don’t work. But it’s the programs that fail us.

We have to deal with what’s real; we have to commit to the suckage of it until it stops sucking so hard.

Let me lay some truth down on you: You can handle anything that comes your way. Anything. You just won’t know that’s the truth until you have those four or five moments and come out the other side. You may be a different person after; we all know Deadpool came out the other side looking like a totally different hero. And that’s the point.

Give it your maximum effort and you will come out the other side.

Take off the mask, make peace with what you’ve been labeling “deformities,” and find an ally along the way to help you see your own false narrative.

If you’re taking the plunge, comment with “MAXIMUM EFFORT!!!” below this post so I can send you spirit fingers vibes from afar!

-Amy

P.S. From Steve: Amy is one of our amazing headmasters coming to Camp Nerd Fitness this year, a life-changing retreat in the mountains of Georgia. Head on over and learn more.

Amy Clover is a fitness personality, speaker and the force behind Strong Inside Out, a site that helps people “become stronger than their struggle” through fitness and positive action. In addition to being one of our beloved Headmasters, she’s a yellow belt in Taekwondo and was president of anime club in high school. Nerd alert!

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  • Dandelion

    MAXIMUM EFFORT!!!!
    There’s a lot of things I feel like I need to change about me. I could use those spirit finger vibes to figure out which ones are real!

  • Hasteur

    MAXIMUM EFFORT!!!

    But I was already doing that between GORUCKing, getting up at buttcrack of dawn (the sun isn’t even lightening the sky yet) to get to the gym and get a solid calorie inferno workout knocked out.

  • gson1192

    Steve, you absolutely AMAZE me with your wisdom, insight, and clarity into issues so many of us face! Especially those of us “older” folks going through some major life changing events. Thank you for speaking the truth and initiating change that is good!

  • Albert CW Chessa

    MAXIMUM EFFORT!! Beautiful, succinct and permeating article 😀 really communed with some of my core stuff. Thank you Amy and NerdFitness 🙂 *Silent appreciative hug*

  • Christopher

    This post got me teared up. Thank you for saying what I needed to hear today

  • Amy Clover

    Woot woot! Remember: it’s not YOU that needs changing; it’s your actions. 🙂

  • Amy Clover

    I’m not above cheap laughs, but I thought I’d let it do its own magic. 🙂 Way to rock life, man!

  • Amy Clover

    *way too enthusiastic hug right back until it’s awkward and uncomfortable* :DDD Glad to hear it spoke to you!

  • Amy Clover

    You’re so so welcome, Christopher. Thanks for reading. Go be a hero. 🙂

  • Dandelion

    Right! My actions, not my ‘image’ or who I am. Thank you, Amy! <3

  • http://batman-news.com Steve Place

    MAXIMUM EFFORT!!!
    I have a lot of self-loathing to deal with. The first thing I need to do to deal with that is let myself be imperfect and make mistakes.

  • Amy Clover

    That’s a great place to start. I’ve done a lot of balance-finding with my all-or-nothing/perfectionist thinking, too!

  • rhiannion

    Love what you have to say – and love the way you say it. :- ) (DO NOT gag – lol)

  • Point Five Korean

    MAXIMUM EFFORT!!!!

    So much of this whole “getting stronger” journey for me is mental. This post summarizes so much of what I’m about!

  • Amy Clover

    Ahahaha! I’ll try. 😉 Thank you!

  • Amy Clover

    Sweet! Happy to hear it hit a chord in you. 🙂

  • Quorra Connelly

    MAXIMUM EFFORT!!!

    I too have had many things happen to me in just the last few months and this article was very profound for me. Thanks Amy!

  • Amy Clover

    You’re so welcome, Quorra!

  • Micheal Attwood

    I’m a new father and husband and I try to inspire all the things you talked about in this article in my daughter in law and plan the same for my new baby. Thanks for writing down what’s been inside my head. I get up everyday to be a courageous man who inspires others with my MAXIMUM EFFORT!

  • http://surfinggooglewave.com Nenad

    MAXIMUM EFFORT!!!!
    This could not have come at a more perfect time for me. I just watched Deadpool yesterday, and I am currently making some large changes in my life which has brought up a lot of things from the past.

  • Tony Langdon

    Wow! What a post Amy! Brought a few tears to my eyes in recollection of those years I worked through many of my issues. I could certainly relate to what you wrote, it’s spot on advice.

    Many years ago, I felt so alone that I posted to the web. That turned out to be quite therapeutic. At the time, I was also involved in a 12 step mental health support group, which helped me to see the good in myself, as a very unique person.

    It’s tough, especially when you the masks fall off and you see the real you for the first time (OMG!!!!), but one emerges a stronger, better person for going through this process.

  • Dawn

    Definitely in the maximum effort era of my life. I’ll be 48 on Sunday and have faced head on a lot of what you talked about in your article. The war wounds of life are now badges of honor and I wear them with pride instead of shame.

  • Amy Clover

    You’re so welcome! That’s wonderful that you’re so aware of how this kind of talk affects children. It really does!

  • Amy Clover

    Awesome, Nenad. No matter how dark those past things are, your presence and determination are always strong enough to light them up. Go get ’em.

  • Amy Clover

    It’s SO tough when it first happens, Tony. But you’re right – we come out so much stronger and more aware so that we can move on without all the baggage (and hopefully know not to pick up more). Thanks for the kind words, man!

  • Amy Clover

    Get it, girl. Age is just a number. What matters is that you have woken up and learned from all those past experiences. You have the opportunity now to be stronger than ever!

  • Micheal Attwood

    Well lots of us out there had it affect us as children. Not that parents or teachers did it intentionally but there has definitely been stigmas to what kind of person we should be. How we should look or act depending on where we are from or even how they were raised themselves.

  • Tylerrly

    MAXIMUM EFFORT!!
    This was a great post, I think it was just what I needed right now. Telling me that a quick fake fix isn’t gonna work. I need to actually try, thank you.

  • Amy Clover

    You’re welcome, Tylerrly. Here’s to getting down & dirty with the real stuff that needs healing. 🙂

  • Nick Montgomery

    LAXIMUM DEFFORT!!! Damnit…

  • Alex

    Very helpful article Amy and crew at Nerd Fitness. Still working out what I need to do to put in MAXIMUM EFFORT! but I will get there 😘

  • Amy Clover

    Ha! I see what you did there.

  • Amy Clover

    Thanks, Alex! Start with one small thing at a time. 🙂

  • EthanRedApple

    MAXIMUM EFFORT!!!!! Your post gave me the kick I needed to go on! Thanks Amy 😀

  • Amy Clover

    Sweet! Get it, Ethan!

  • Natasha Jacobs

    MAXIMUM EFFORT!
    Therrs so much about me that I want to change, simply because I want to feel like I’m worth something. I know this is wrong and I’m trying to change that mindset. It’s super difficult but it’s a slow process.
    On the good side of things, I took 20 seconds of courage and started running yesterday! Yay!

  • Amy Clover

    Awesome that you’re starting to run, Natasha! I found that – for me – I had to peel off the years of learnt self-hatred to uncover my inherent worth. Journaling was SUPER helpful. Hope it helps you, too!

  • DungeonCrawler

    I really needed to see this post today, it gave me the excuse I needed to get something off of my chest that I’ve been holding in for more than a year. Thanks for the encouragement Steve.

    EDIT: Oh right, MAXIMUM EFFORT!

  • Amy Clover

    So happy it helped you today, man. Get that ish out!!! 🙂

  • Abandon Window

    “We have to deal with what’s real; we have to commit to the suckage of it until it stops sucking so hard.”

    Tough to do. Impossible if you’re not convinced there’s anything worthwhile waiting on the other side. At least it’s impossible for me–nearly ten years of weight loss fails attest to that. I haven’t been able to find a reason to lose weight beyond thinking maybe people would like me more if I weren’t so goddamned fat. And that’s, well, not terribly motivating.

    I wonder if all people who never change (i.e., most people) are like me: apathetic and disillusioned, content to be mediocre. There must be something foundational that separates us from the people who accomplish their goals and manage to do something meaningful with their lives.

  • Amy Clover

    I hear you, and I want you to know that your pain is completely valid. What you’re going through (and have gone through) is really hard. I personally believe that no one is incapable of change. While it is extremely tough to do, you are never so lost that you’re beyond hope. All the past fails are just teaching you that they’re not the paths for you. You’re that much closer to finding a way of life that doesn’t feel so hard. Please don’t give up.

  • Abandon Window

    Appreciate the response. You make a lot of sense. I feel way beyond hope, but I have obligations that keep me from giving up completely. All I can do is trudge on, whether I see a path or not.

    You do good work, Amy. I wish you nothing but success.

  • Amy Clover

    I understand that feeling. I’ve been there, too. All I can say is that it does get better and there is a purpose to this pain. We’re not meant to see it while it’s happening, but it will make sense. It will. Sending you light.

  • El Carter

    MAXIMUM EFFORT!!
    Hey there. I’ve been a hardcore athlete all my life but took about 9 months off to focus on starting up my own buisness which, of course, is a whole other bunch of issues. But NOW, especially with f***ing Olympic season, I’ve fallen into an entire self-hate process that I find difficult to snap myself out of.. I want to be recognized as the ‘world’s best’ at something and I’m a huge cosplayer and hate the way all my photos come out and I’m just – to quote Ironman 3 “a hot mess.”

  • Amy Clover

    I hear you on the hot mess part. I think we all go through that at different times or our life. I’m a recently recovered hot mess myself. The world lies when it tells us we have to be one extreme or the other (best or worst). I bet you do cosplay because you love it, not for the pictures. If you enjoy yourself, that’s all that matters! Your enjoyment doesn’t depend on other people deeming you “better” than anyone else, you know? Just my personal thoughts and wish for you (to have f***ing fun without giving 2 sh**s what the judges-that-be think of it). 🙂

  • WingedBeastie

    MAXIMUM EFFORT!!!

    The Perfect being the enemy of the good is a hard lesson to learn both in Health and in Acting.

  • Amy Clover

    It’s hard for sure, but so worth it once all that pressure is relieved!

  • ToGusDS

    Thanks for the thoughts 😀

  • Amy Clover

    You’re welcome! 🙂

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