I’m a quitter. Yup, I said it, I’m a habitual quitter.
Or at least I was.
I grew up in a house where average wasn’t acceptable. I can remember being frightened to bring home my first B. And with good reason. The talk with my dad that night was about “how if you were capable of something better, then “average” wasn’t good enough.” He expected more.
I remember when I stopped swimming competitively in favor of track and field in high school. I had been the new kid at school and desperately wanted to make friends and belong. My swim team required me to travel every weekend with 2 hour practices every day leaving little time for any other socialization. At 14, I just wanted to be part of a group, not exiled by one. But to my father, I was giving up, giving in “If you want to do this, then you’d better be the best.” Luckily I was.
The thing is, those examples were just 2 of the many that taught me 2 things:
- You can not fail. Failure meant being less than I was, letting family and loved ones down and risking them being disappointed and angry.
- Average is not acceptable. Always strive for the best position at work, to be the best at everything I did and if I couldn’t, then don’t change or try.
While those things have served me well, as I’ve got a great track record to prove it, they’ve also let me down and limited what I could do. I didn’t go for things for FEAR that if I failed, my family would laugh at me. I didn’t try something new, because if I didn’t excel at it, what was the point. When you’re always trying to be “the best”, you don’t do things just because they make you happy. You limit your experiences to what is safe and thereby, limit yourself.
It took a wonderful mentor to make me recognize this as MY story. The one I told myself to keep me safe. The one that “protected” me from failure, hurt, sadness, but also the one that limited my experiences. After all, its our experiences, our story, that shapes us, that guides us, that colors the world as we see it.
You too have a story. That voice in your head. The one that sounds like someone else, but isn’t really you.
You’re not crazy. That voice is very real. Its your family, spouse, friends, coworkers, those you love, respect and want to love you back.
The one that tells you….
“you’re too fat, tall, skinny, short, old, young….”
“you’re not good enough, rich enough, experienced enough, too experienced….”
“you can’t ever….”
Here’s the thing though, while that may have been your experience, is that really YOUR story?
That was my Lightbulb moment! What if my experience isn’t really MY story? What if, as loving, caring, giving as my dad was, those comments were really from HIS story and not mine?
Whoa Nelly! Yes! What if?!
Well then that would mean those fears were really his, not mine. And if they weren’t mine, then I was FREE to live as I chose to live.
And that’s when I started choosing differently. If something made my heart skip a beat, I went with it. I took that feeling of “butterflies” to mean I was on the right path. I tried things I was previously afraid of, like singing loudly and proudly. I joined the choir at church and became the lead cantor.
I started telling people I owned my own business, rather than that I was a stay at home mom with a business on the side. That’s when my business started to take off, introducing me to more opportunities and expanding my offerings.
I started risking more and living more. My life was now true to me and wasn’t being lead by someone else’s story.
Everyone has a story. Its there to protect you from fear, hurt, pain. It wants you to feel safe, loved. Anything that is contrary to that story causes resistance and fear.
Its often in the words that others speak to you.
“I don’t think thats a good idea. What if….?”
“You shouldn’t do that because….”
“You look great! You don’t need a diet. Here’s a…..”
They seem innocent enough, so its easy to not see the story behind them.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea. What if….you leave me….are more successful than me….make more money than me….lose more weight than me…..”
“You shouldn’t do that because….you might succeed where I failed and what does that say about me?….you’ll make me look fat and I’m not ready to lose the weight…..you’ll be happy and won’t need me anymore….”
“You look great! You don’t need a diet. Here’s a….because if you lose the weight, I’ll be the fat friend…..we can’t get together for drinks anymore….what will we have to complain about together….”
Is this really your story? Or is it theirs? What would happen if you choose not to believe it? To not listen? To risk losing, failing, falling?
Its still not easy for me to always ignore the “story” I’ve told myself all these years. Sometimes it is disguised well. So I’m learning to challenge “why” I think something to be hard, “why” I can’t go for it, “why” it might not work and to ask myself, “what if it does?”.
If I’m excited by the possibility, I go for it. And my life has opened up to greater happiness, success and possibility as a result.
Have you ever recognized a “story” you tell yourself that isn’t really true? What happened when you confronted it? How did you grow or change? Comment HERE.