One night when our youngest daughter was 6 years old, I declared that there would be ice-cream for dessert for anyone who didn’t complain about the dinner that I had cooked. Our daughter, who didn’t always like the food that I cooked for her, immediately started to cry before exclaiming: “Great! That means that I won’t be getting ice-cream!” At that point, she had not even started to eat dinner.
As funny as this sounded at the time, I think it is a great example of the stories that we create about ourselves, in particular, the story of “I am not one of those people who…”. At age 6, our daughter didn’t see herself as the kind of person who could eat dinner without complaining. She therefore didn’t see the possibility of enjoying ice-cream.
I think that, as adults, we also tend to define ourselves with stories about who we may or may not be: I am not one of those outgoing people. I am not one of those people who ask for help from others. I am not one of those clever thinkers. I am not one of those people who can write short emails. I am not a confident person.
As I reflected on this, what occurred to me is that we all start life as a blank canvas. No one is born “not one of those people”. We are a blank canvas and the painting that is our becoming is created through brush strokes that are each our interpretation of life. Each brush stroke contains the learning that happens as a result of our life experiences, the opinions that we create in order to survive the learning and life experiences, the moods and emotions that we are living our life experiences from, and so forth. The painting is our story of who we are. Sometimes, we assume that the painting can’t be changed, and so we live it as a true representation of who we are. Not being able to see that painting turn into another painting is the equivalent to not seeing a possibility because we are “…not one of those people”. What I find truly amazing is that the smallest, simplest brush stroke can significantly shift a painting, in the same way that the smallest, simplest shift to who we are being can bring about totally different possibilities.
Does it really matter if we are “not one of those people…?” Well, maybe it doesn’t. If it is serving an individual to “not be one of those people…” then perhaps that is fine. However, what if it isn’t serving us? In that case, what would it take to be “one of those people”? What would be useful to shift within our stories and language to become “one of those people”? What mood or emotion would be useful? How would that feel in the body?
I can’t help wondering at the possibilities that may become available by giving ourselves permission to be “one of those people”. It could be anything, from a bowl of ice-cream to fulfilling a life-long dream.
- Where do you see yourself as living a story of not being “one of those people”?
- How is this serving you?
As a leadership and life coach, I am available for coaching and facilitation, either locally in Canberra or remotely as appropriate. If you feel that it would be useful to have a conversation with me, please feel free to view my services on the Leading and Being website.