Gabe – Learning to Like Yourself

We are going to bring you a series of posts that help you get to know the guys behind the site. We are all underwear lovers and our staff are all volunteers who do it for their love of undies and some great undies. One of our newest is Gabe. He’s a big time underwear lover and this is a little more about him. I hope you enjoy getting some in sight into our guys. Here is more about Gabe!

likeyourself

Making your first foray into the world of high-end men’s underwear is a bit like jumping into a cold pool.  Some dive in head first while others must ease into it gradually.  But regardless of how you enter the pool, it takes a lot more commitment to remain there indefinitely.  To do so is to make a statement about yourself.  On the surface that statement might be ‘I like nice underwear’ but peel back the layers and what is really being said is ‘I like who I am.’

Believe it or not, liking who you are can be an acquired skill.  A lot of people make their way through the world as functional adults without ever fully grasping this concept.  Granted being a responsible adult eventually requires some amount of self-sacrifice.  But surely your needs don’t always need to come last.  It wasn’t until I nearly became a paraplegic that I learned this lesson.

In 2008 I survived a helicopter crash 60 miles off the coast of Brazil.  Of the 20 people on board the helicopter15 survived.  Several days after being plucked from the sea I woke up in a hospital with no memory of the accident and no control of my legs.  The impact had crushed three vertebrae in my lower back.  It was uncertain whether I would walk again.  What followed was a year of intensive physical therapy and a bout with crippling depression.

Prior to the accident my attitude toward myself was pretty neutral; happy in some ways, critical in others.  I thought this was just fine.  After all, I didn’t hate myself.  But ‘not hating’ yourself is still nowhere near to liking yourself.  After all, how far would you go to help someone if the best you can say about them is ‘I don’t hate them’?

During this time my physical shape was unremarkable.  Not horrible, but not great either.  Exercise (I told myself) was something I didn’t have time for.  Numerous times I had pledged to get back in shape.  I would go to the gym and immediately get discouraged by the guy next to me who was curling twice as much.  Goodbye gym.  Same time next year?

That’s just one example, but imagine if all of the small choices you make in the course of a day are governed by an underlying belief feeling that you are slightly inadequate.  Over time, this way of thinking can chip away at your self-esteem and manifest itself in real physical terms (i.e. frequent illness, poor sleep habits, fatigue, depression, etc.)

After the accident I had to relinquish all control to other people.  I needed assistance to do almost everything that a normal person would take for granted.  The adjustment to this new way of life was brutal.  But in my case it was a necessary step in learning to like who I was.

The most significant breakthrough came when I realized that how my thoughts could affect how my body felt.  A gloomy attitude would make the physical therapy sessions unproductive and grueling.  But even a small amount of positive feelings could have the opposite effect.   It turns out that our minds and our bodies are linked in a way that a controls engineer would call a ‘positive feedback loop.’  A small improvement in your mental state can cause a proportionate improvement in your physical state (or vice versa).  Almost like falling upward… positive begets positive.  However, it can go either way.  If you allow the cycle to go negative it will.

A few months in to my recovery a cute 20-something nurse at the clinic passed me in the hall, smiled, and said ‘you look good.’  Because I had been relying entirely on my upper body for mobility I was slowly developing a chest and arms.  That was the moment the scales tipped.  I remember thinking “she’s right, I do look good.” That tiny burst of positive emotional feedback unleashed greater physical exertion in the next round of PT.  And then the negative thoughts that had been impossible to silence began to evaporate.  It’s not because I associate my self-worth with my appearance.  No… I had simply found ONE thing in my life that I COULD control.  Despite the fact that I still couldn’t walk on my own, I was taking way better care of myself (physically and emotionally) than ever before.  I liked who I was.  I was happy.

And this is where I hope my experience can provide a road map to others.  No matter who you are or what your station in life you can always learn to nurture your mind and body.  You deserve to feel good about who you are.  It doesn’t require drastic changes to your lifestyle, but rather a series of small steps carried out over a long period of time.  Just like learning to walk.

Buying yourself nice underwear might seem trivial.  But, as I discovered it only takes the tiniest positive feeling to kick-start the upward spiral.  Who knows how long any of us will be here for.  Why not enjoy your body while you have it.