My physiotherapist called me “athletic” today. No one has ever called me athletic in my life. The story told in my head, for years, was of me as a child always getting picked last at any sports game. Later I became a young adult that finds sports boring, only useful for losing weight. The story I told myself was that I'm not good at sports and I hate it!
When I started exercising seriously, I had a clear goal. I started running for my life. I had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and it was the only way I could fight this monster. I started doing sports, 3-4 times a week. I didn’t enjoy it much, but I loved getting stronger. I have worked hard for many months, and now amongst all that I am, I get to be athletic.
We continually define ourselves through stories. In coaching sessions, what I hear are the echoes of these stories. The conclusion my coachees derive from them sounds something like this: “I’m just not good at that”, or “I’ll never resolve this issue”.
The assumption that you have a certain set of things you are good at or like is limiting. It narrows the range of possibilities for you. It feels to me a bit like excluding some of the colors of the world. It is a paler reality, where you have less room for creating by mixing and matching.
When you say "it is what it is" - an obvious conclusion is that you can do nothing about it. Letting go of this is difficult, as it requires effort. Yet doing so can have exciting results!
A starting point could be creating a clear vision towards new possible stories about yourself. Some people are able to tap into that, during a walk, meditation, or any other relaxing activity. Others gather inspiring quotes and images and form a vision board.
In order to achieve clarity, ask yourself these very open-ended questions:
Which part of you is expressed in your life, and which would you like to express?
What do you value?
What are you noticing when you experience joy?
What if you could? How could you picture that?
You could ask them yourself or have a discussion around them with a close friend. Journaling your feelings around those kinds of leads often provokes a shift of energy.
The value of challenging these old assumptions is immense. You may discover new forms of self-expression, find joy in acquiring new skills, or learn to deal with conflicts differently. It can also be the pathway to fulfilling new positions. Your sense of competence will only grow while you explore your true range of abilities.
In a sense, I was forced to change. But I’m so happy for every training I did and embracing the ongoing ripple effect it had on so many aspects of my life.
We all have so much to benefit by aiming ourselves towards our core every single day.
Beautiful vision board courtesy of dear Natalia Vayner-Heyraud.