On Monday, we talked about staying true to yourself, but this raises a very important question: who are you? Of course, the post on Monday was geared specifically toward staying true to your commitments, but there’s a much broader connotation to staying ‘true’ to yourself than the limited realm of promises made to be the healthiest version of yourself that you can be. That’s what I want to talk about today.
I think the best place to start with this is the idea of self perception, after all, for many of us, this is how we would answer the question: who are you? You might say ‘I’m a health and fitness blogger’ or ‘I’m a businesswoman’ or something similar. However, many people are living lives that may not truly be the lives they want to live. Instead, they’re following a script that may have been projected onto them by their parents, peers or loved ones.
Sometimes these scripts are unintentional, or even positive, usually these are pushed onto us by our parents and reinforced over time. Things like “Oh, you’ll make such a good doctor one day!” when repeated by someone we strive to please – like our parents – influence how we think of ourselves, and ultimately, can have a great impact on who we become. Unfortunately, these scripts aren’t always positive. Hearing things like “You’re a nerd!” or a geek, or being thrust into the role of victim by a bully, or controlling partner or sadly even a parent creates scripts within us – self perceptions that may not be accurate representations of ourselves. Take for example a guy or girl who was a ‘late bloomer’, many of these people live their entire lives with this same perception of themselves without ever stopping to ask themselves “Is this true? Am I still this person today?”
Think about yourself, can you think of something that you just accept about yourself that’s not a positive trait? Take a minute and ask yourself if it’s true? Are you really a nerd? Do you really have a bad memory? Are you really weak? Is your weight really something you cant control? The chances are that you’re carrying around one or more of these negative scripts that could be holding you back from a LOT of really great things in your life! The frightening question then becomes “Are you living your life, or someone else’s?”
It doesn’t do a lot of good to simply make you aware that there may be someone else’s scripts that you’re acting out that are controlling or impacting your life in a way you don’t want. Let’s talk about what you can do to remove these negative loops, and how you can use this powerful knowledge to create your own positive scripts to help you take control over your life!
So what can you do about it?
The first step in taking control of these scripts is to start identifying them, and realizing whether they’re true or not. A good method of this is to make a two column list about yourself. On the left side, write ten of your strengths, and in the right column, write ten of your weaknesses.
Now that you have this list, ask yourself if the weaknesses are true, and make yourself qualify them. Ask yourself why you feel they’re true, it’s not acceptable to accept a feeling, or a single example. For example, it’s not fair to say that because you screwed something up (even if it’s a big thing), then you are a screw up. If you can’t qualify something, then it’s not a truth. If you qualify it by someone else’s opinion, then it’s likely a script, and it’s time to change that self perception.
The steps to changing self perception are:
- Recognize what is true self perception and what is false or scripted self perception.
- Challenge yourself to rise above that perception. For example, if you’ve realized that your shyness exists because you had a parent that didn’t believe in your abilities and always told you “Oh you can’t do that!” Then it’s time to put yourself into situations where you;re forced to come out of your shell.
- Accept and give yourself permission to fail at some of these challenges. It’s not an indication that the script is indeed true, just that it’s a powerful influence on your life, and that breaking it may be difficult.
- “Fake it until you make it” By that I mean look at what other people do who don’t fit into the mold of the script that you’re trying to break. If you’ve always believed that you’re weak, then start going to the gym, take a martial arts class, hit that bootcamp or crossfit gym.
- Maintain and believe in your optimism. Unless you have a physical limitation, then there truly isn’t anything that should keep you from attaining what you want to achieve. Some goals may take longer to achieve than others, but only you can hold yourself back, and if you’ve identified a negative script in your life, then it’s likely that that’s exactly what’s been happening.
I know that this list is a vast oversimplification and that for many people, this may be a deeper process. If you’ve tried the above, and truly can’t seem to shake the negative scripts you’ve identified, then you really may benefit from talking with a therapist or a professional. If you need a start, psychology today has a tool to locate someone near you that you can access by clicking this text.
I know this one is a little different than my usual posts, but this can truly be a big problem that holds back a lot of people from finding success in many areas in their life. Hopefully this helps some to find success where in the past they’ve only met walls.
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