The Stories We Tell Ourselves- Part 2 Acknowledging the False Benefits
As a quick recap from the last post; if you are hearing yourself say “I can’t”, “I never”, or “I always” there is most likely a story that goes along with those beliefs. At times we are completely aware of those stories and maybe even proud of them; “I hate Burpees!” Sound familiar? Others are so deeply ingrained we aren’t even aware they are only stories; we take them as fact and operate our lives based off of those “facts”. Maybe you were able to identify a few of your stories after becoming more in tune with listening to what you tell yourself.
For me, repeatedly over years I would state, “I have no balance!” Once I had the wake-up call and realized that was something I was just telling myself I was able to start really looking at why I would believe such a thing. In this post we will address that exact question; Why would I believe such a thing?
Awesome Side Note: I am happy to report back that since I realized my story-line about having horrible balance I have challenged myself to truly examine that statement, practice diligently, and finally get my handstand push up! *Fist Pump*
Here are a few thoughts about why we use stories.
First, many of us aren’t aware that we have control over our stories. A big reason we aren’t aware we have control is because the stories allow us to be in an autopilot mode and therefor arrive at a conclusion before we even give ourselves a chance to entertain a different decision, outcome, or action. Our decisions at that point are based off of reaction versus allowing for space to respond. More about the difference between reacting versus responding in a post to come!
Say we do have a nagging suspicion in the back our head that there is a different way but don’t really want to look at why that suspicion is there. In that case we are probably using our story to “protect” ourselves and find some false benefit in continuing to believe that story.
For example, I used the situation where I didn’t try very hard to do some of the more technical things in the Beginners Parkour classes I was taking. There were various reasons I had for failing by not trying, but all of them pointed to one limiting belief.
Story: There is no way I can jump over that obstacle pivoting off the wall! That’s crazy talk!
False Benefit: I am being smart, I am protecting myself; I don’t want to break my arm again! If I have a reason for not trying then I don’t even have to wonder if I will fail at it or if I am good at it. In fact I can be kinda lazy about it now.
Reality: I am on a padded floor with plastic pipe as my obstacle, there is give in each part of the obstacle that makes this situation pretty dang safe to practice and fail in.
Limiting Beliefs: I don’t want to try and totally wipe out in front of all these youngins’ (I was one of the oldest in the class) and be discounted as weak or unable. I came here as a fitness professional, I have an image to uphold. I need to be good at all things to be taken seriously.
By digging a little bit deeper I realize I am holding back because my identity (the one I want to portray and so far the one my classmates have witnessed) is at stake. Or so I believe that’s true. The irony in my “protective” inaction in not trying very hard is my athletic identity is still at stake, maybe even more so.
In this example I am pulling on various past experiences that I now allow my current story to be crafted from. Not only am I reinforcing the story by my actions, I have also now enlisted others around me to believe and reinforce the story too! I elicit their sympathy with a story of the past experiences where I tried playing and I broke my arm and they will accept my excuses and won’t push me anymore. They most likely will let me hide because I am most certainly putting off a vibe that says “Don’t challenge me here.”
Thankfully there is something built inside of me that will not allow me to just not try, though it may take a while to clear away the BS stories, excuses, and fears. With practice and awareness I am learning how to catch those stories earlier and just get on with trying.
There are many opportunities at CrossFit Banshee to play and learn that are safe. The trainers, community, and methods are built to accommodate learning, growth, and play. It is the perfect place to start examining what stories you hold on to and you may be surprised how much what you learn about your stories in the gym translates to other areas of your life too.
Are we here to be controlled and limited by our past experiences or to build and create our own experiences?
Next Post: Stories We Tell Ourselves Part 3: Tearing Down Limiting Stories.