I’ve been dancing around the concept of “working on myself” for years now and dancing around is truly what I’ve been doing. Just kind of a hockey pokey dance putting my left leg in and then putting my left leg out and you know what? it’s time to get serious. It’s time to dive right into the middle of who I AM and discover just who the hell that is.
There are lots of things I believe to be true about me that limit me. Here are just a few:
I’m not crafty
I can’t knit
I can’t sew
I can’t garden
I’m hopeless at maths
I’m not artistic
I’m not fashionable
Oh the list could go on but I think you get the picture. Ok, so why do I think these things are true about me? Well, there’s an underlying theme in these mistruths. Something that is not being said but it’s there underneath it all and it can be all bundled up into one word “good”.
The part that really stands out to me in what Myth Man said is around needing to be “good” at something in order to try it or enjoy it. This speaks to a much larger problem – that I put my value, my self worth into extensions of me (creations or activities) rather than just knowing that because I exist, I am enough.
My girls know their worth and are teaching me a lot about that. I just love to watch Charlotte paint. She’ll take a blank piece of paper, paints, different brushes and sponges and just create. She’ll mix colours, make patterns, start using her finger, enjoy the textures and then bang, she’s done. She’ll ask to wash her hands and move on to playing with something else. She’s totally unattached to what the end result looks like. She doesn’t need me to oooo and ahhhh over her creation or give it a gold star. She doesn’t need me at all to enjoy painting and if I have asked her what she’s painted she almost looks confused. Like painting something in particular is a novel idea to her and she might make up what it is as an after thought to assist me in my confusion of what I’m looking at. That’s true artistic freedom right there. It makes me want to get a big piece of paper, cover myself in paint and just express. And if I did that – wouldn’t that be artistic of me and wouldn’t that bust one of my myths above….that I’m not artistic?
So what if we just took the good out of things? After all good is a matter of perspective isn’t it? If I knitted a blanket and it looked terrible would it still be a blanket? Would I have still knitted? Does it need to be deemed good by someone else or even by me in order for it to count as knitting? I’m not saying people should tell me that it looks good when it doesn’t – I’m just saying, is the judgement necessary? It’s a real question – is it necessary? Myth Man wants to know – how else would you know your worth?
This brings me back round to the idea of belief vs truth. There is, in my view, very little we know for certain in this world. We are taught many things by people who know (because they’ve studied it, measured it, done the maths, are the experts etc). So what we think of as "true" is actually stuff we just believe is true because we trust the validity of the source. Now I’m not saying we should stop trusting science, maths, experts and the like – I’ve just decided to recognise that I believe many things are true rather than actually knowing.
For instance, one thing I absolutely know is true is that I love my family and they love me. Someone could walk up to me and say where’s your proof? Where’s your data/maths/calculations? I would probably laugh out loud because that’s absurd. I don’t need to prove that I love my children, I know it and I have no desire to prove it to anyone.
Proof is very handy when you are making claims or when you are trying to discern the validity of someone else’s claim but it can also be limiting. Major corporations and governments know that people often demand proof before they’ll believe things and so all they need to do is suppress the proof that goes against their agenda. Anyone who claims otherwise is a conspiracy theory nut job – it’s an all too easy game. So if someone is waving a nut job flag about something not being what it seems, I resolve to being open that what they’re saying could be true unless I know for certain that it is not (from personal experience etc).
Oh wow, I’ve side tracked into conspiracies, but maybe it’s linked to the original idea. Maybe these limiting beliefs about what I’m capable of are simply conspiracies. A part of me has been conspiring to keep me safe by trapping me within my comfort zone. These limiting beliefs were created from good intentions. I remember vividly drawing a picture of my family at school when I was five years old and the kid next to me pointed at my picture and told me it was all wrong. “You’ve drawn yourself taller than your brother! I’ve seen your brother, he’s taller than you”. Not wanting to be wrong, I quarreled with this other child trying to convince them that I was indeed taller than my brother trying to make my picture right while physically it was definitely not so. But doesn’t it make sense that a 5 year old child would make themselves the largest person in their family picture? They place themselves in the middle of their world – it makes perfect sense for them to do so. And as they grow, they learn empathy and begin to understand that everyone is important but at five, I can assure you, I was certainly the most important person in my world.
So I went along in school unsure that I was good at drawing as other children got stars for their efforts and mine was questioned for too much use of colour. At that young age I decided I wasn’t good at drawing. I wasn’t even good at colouring because (as other kids often pointed out) I didn’t stay between the lines. I made too much mess with the paints, the glue and lacked focus. It makes perfect sense that I would now stand here as an adult and declare “I am not artistic in any shape way or form” as if that’s the truth when in fact it’s just a belief based on experience. If you ever read Katie Byron’s books you’ll soon see her way of helping people starts with them telling her a problem (like “everyone hates me”) and her answering “is that true? Can you say 100% that it’s true?” Almost always when asked people have no choice but to say “well no, I can’t say 100% it’s true but it is a very likely assumption”. Hmmmm yes, lost its luster at that point hasn’t it? Not matter which way you look at it – a very likely assumption is still not necessarily true.
So I’m ready to send Myth Man packing and start giving the things I don't think I can do a shot. I’m not going to be a Yes Man and give everything that comes my way a try (that doesn’t appeal) but there are certainly things I want to do/try that I don’t because I have decided that either I’m not good at it (from previous experience) or because I feel certain that I wont be good at it. So get the heck out of here Myth Man and take “good” with you. It’s time to separate beliefs from facts, lies from the truth and myth from this woman.
Bronwyn Bay (myth buster)