Is Bodybuilding Good For Self Esteem?

bodybuilding & self esteem
October 11, 2022 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “is bodybuilding good for self esteem?”. This is a very important topic and as such it deserves a detailed article.

Many people start bodybuilding with the intent to improve their self esteem by building a better body. Bodybuilding does improve self esteem in this way, however this topic is a lot more nuanced than this.

Is Bodybuilding Good For Self Esteem?

By and large bodybuilding is positive for self esteem. However, this is not always the case. If you want to build up your muscles you should do so for yourself and because you have a passion for bodybuilding.

In this way, you will sustain this lifestyle long term and it will be positive for your self esteem. If you start bodybuilding from a place of seeking external validation from others to fuel your confidence, this is bad.

No amount of external validation can ever be enough, only internal validation can boost your self esteem properly. Any boosts in your self esteem from external validation are only temporary.

A problem that can come about from bodybuilding is “bigorexia” which can lead to more insecurities and a diminished level of self esteem. The other extreme that can arise from bodybuilding is narcissism. This is an arguably extreme level of self confidence, but it often masks other deep seated insecurities. This too is not the most healthy. 

Self Esteem Is Fuelled By Competence

High levels of self esteem is fuelled by competence and accomplishments. Any positive progress and accomplishments you have made will fuel your self esteem and boost your confidence.

These accomplishments can be in any area of your life – be it health, wealth, relationships, etc. If you feel like you are making no progress in any area, this is the most detrimental for your mental health and levels of self esteem.

In this way, bodybuilding can boost your self esteem and confidence. As you gain more muscle all over your body and achieve physical goals, you will feel better about yourself. It takes a lot of effort and discipline to make lots of progress in bodybuilding – it is definitely something that you can be proud of.

The video below by Nick Wright also touches upon some of the concepts that I have talked about, particularly when it comes to internal validation being better than external validation. 

Many Bodybuilders Are Still Insecure

Many people get into bodybuilding to deal with their insecurities – it could be as a result of being bullied, lack of success with the opposite sex, etc.

Bodybuilding can certainly raise your self esteem, but one issue that a lot of people run into is suffering from insecurities even after building lots of muscle.

Comparison is one of the biggest thieves of happiness. When you look at fitness influencers on social media, and others at the gym, it can cause some insecurities to resurface.

You may feel like you haven’t got big enough or ripped enough for instance. Some people may suffer body dysmorphia and bigorexia as a result. This will drastically lower their self esteem.

I have done an article previously about body dysmorphia in bodybuilding – you can read it here. A healthier way of approaching bodybuilding is to just focus on competing with yourself and realising that there will always be other people better than you in everything.

You should be happy with progress that you have made and give yourself positive encouragement. Positive self talk is very important when it comes to raising self esteem. Many people could benefit from daily meditation where they can reinforce positive self talk. Taking time away from social media can also be beneficial in improving your mental health.

Narcissism And Bodybuilding

Narcissism is a very interesting personality trait and one that is often discussed. It is even true that some element of narcissism is required to achieve things in life. Some of the biggest achievers tend to be quite narcissistic.

Eddie Hall for example is narcissistic but he “backs up his bullshit” as he puts it through his achievements. He won the World Strongest Man and also was the first man in history to deadlift 500kg!

Bodybuilding can become very narcissistic as it is easy to believe that having lots of muscles makes you superior to others. There are quite a few bodybuilders with this mentality.

Very often the insecurities that led them to start bodybuilding have still remained. It could be for example that they are insecure about something else in their lives and exhibit narcissism as a defence mechanism.

The highest levels of self esteem don’t just come about through physical improvement. If financially you haven’t achieved what you wanted to then you will still feel insecure. The same could be said for relationships – if you haven’t achieved a meaningful relationship yet with the opposite sex, this can hold you back.

Insecurities can fuel narcissism in some ways. You can become very narcissistic by focusing on the areas that you are excelling and inflating your overall self esteem to compensate for your insecurities in other areas of life.

This is not necessarily the fault of bodybuilding per se, it is predominantly a fault in not having the best balance in your life in terms of your achievements in various areas. The highest levels of self esteem will come from excelling in many areas of life and living your best life. 

Final Thoughts

Is bodybuilding good for self esteem? Overall, the answer is yes. The caveat is that you must do it for yourself out of passion. You should do it to improve yourself physically and not rely on external validation from others.

Be content with the progress that you make and be proud of your accomplishments. Don’t compare yourself with others and realise that competing with yourself is what matters.

Try to work on any other insecurities that you may have. These won’t all be solved through bodybuilding. This can include insecurities over finances, relationships, poor social skills, poor mental health, etc.

By doing this, bodybuilding will also become a far more positive force in your life and it is unlikely that you will suffer from self esteem issues.

If you have any comments on this topic please leave them below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

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