I recently got schooled! Thankfully I came out on top with one of the better lessons I have learned in life recently.
I have never been one to say “I can’t”. In fact, when I was younger, I would experience a lot of frustration when one of my good friends used to always sit out on all the games because in her mind she wasn’t capable of playing. She would just say “I can’t” I didn’t understand it… COME ON!! Get up and have some fun, test your boundaries, just figure out how you can do it!!! Eventually I figured out that was where she was comfortable, I gave over to accepting it and her as that rather than trying to understand. Recently I learned that I maybe could understand and relate because I was guilty of letting my “I Can’ts” limit me.
I recently finished listening to Anna Quindlen read her memoir Lots Of Candles, Plenty Of Cake. In it she had a story of attempting to learn how to do a headstand… “I have no balance”, she told her personal trainer, and as any good trainer should say, she replied “that’s a little story you tell yourself” and then and there, when I heard that I realized I have said the exact same words myself… and I wholeheartedly believed them. As if there was some sort of mechanism in my body that made it impossible to ever be good at balancing. Hearing Quindlen share her story hit me because I had no idea I was saying “I can’t”… I truly believed I just had poor balance.
Want to know what that story allows me to do? To be terrible at anything that requires balance and then just write it off as if I have no control over it. It is so damn convenient for why I wasn’t great at Parkour, why I never truly attempted to be better at handstand pushups and it very conveniently explains why I never have been able to get more than 4 steps on the slack line.
Now the hard part for me, I am about to tell on myself.
Truth is… I was embarrassed to try and fail at Parkour, especially when my fellow newbies were doing better than I was. Truth is… I am terrified of some freak flip off of the slack line where I end up racking myself or breaking my wrist. Truth is…I never gave handstands a second look because I never believed that I truly had the ability to do them.
At the end of the day we have a lot of stories we tell ourselves some of them we are aware of and maybe even proud of… “You will never catch me dancing in public, people who do are ridiculous!”. Beliefs like this are limiting because we are most likely using them to protect ourselves from a deeper uncomfortable feeling and never stop to think, what about those times we actually do want to join in the fun and dance?
Other stories aren’t so obvious; they run in the background without our being fully aware of them. These we believe to be actual truths… “It’s in my genes, I just have big bones”, “I can’t climb a rope, I have never been able to… plus I’m a girl, we just aren’t good at that”
How to identify your stories:
Today, listen to yourself in everyday conversation. Especially tune into challenging situations, and see what stories come out.
In your observations do you hear yourself say any of the following?
“ I can’t….”
“I will never…”
“I’m just not good at…”
“My family has never…”
“My family has always…”
“I’ve always been horrible at…”
“I could never accomplish or do….”
“I’m destined to be…”
“Everyone is a…”
“No one will ever…”
“That’s just the way I am”
Which ones do you know you say on a regular basis?
Which ones surprised you when you heard yourself say it?
In the next post we will talk about how these beliefs are serving you and determine if the benefits that these stories afford are more preferable than the things you could accomplish if you didn’t let them direct your story.