How many times have you read or heard that the only limitations in our lives are those in our heads? I have seen it, read it, heard it a bazillion times (that’s my favourite word at the moment, bazillion!) But I still didn’t get it.
I watched the animated movie Chicken Run years ago and I still remember how clever I thought Ginger was when she told her cohorts that the fences were “not just out there! They’re in your heads!” Ginger had elegantly articulated what most leaders in the human potential movement refer to as self-talk.
Self-talk is the accumulation of thoughts we think, and what we tell ourselves, about who we are, how we are, and what we can and can’t do. Repeated often enough in our minds, self-talk solidifies into a set of beliefs we use to navigate the world. If we persist in saying, ‘I can’t’, whenever faced with a new challenge, then it becomes true for us. It is our uniquely human ability to stop ourselves from doing more, achieving more, or being more than we think is possible simply because of the fences in our heads. Don’t get me wrong those fences keep us safe – safe from the scary world and all its manifestations. Self-talk starts in childhood. Most people do not bother to change their self-talk. Eventually, it becomes the excuse we use to limit our lives, our choices, our circumstances. Hence the reference to fences. On the reverse side, it is the positive self-talk that provides focused individuals with the power to move through obstacles in their lives and bounce back from adversity in unique and sometimes daring ways.
I have fences. Do you? My fences prevent me from going full tilt at a new project or taking the action steps towards a new habit or moving forwards at more than a crawl in my writing career. What writing career? Yep! That’s the one! That’s exactly what my self-talk looks and sounds like in my head. What career? For decades I have had a dream to share my words with the world, for no more agenda than to share my creativity with other people. I have quashed that dream endlessly with the practicalities of life; work, eat, sleep, raise family, work, eat…. you know what I’m saying. Of course, my self-talk has been horrendous: Don’t quit your day job! Who would want to read what you write? Somebody has already written that idea or that story – can’t you be original?
I am one of the millions who practices self-talk in cruel and vicious ways. If I check this self-talk against the reality of life, I feel better and hear a much nicer voice in my head. The positive self-talk tells me, yes, those ideas may have been written about by many people, and my perception is just that, mine. It is as valid as anyone else’s so why not write and share and facilitate ‘ah-ha!’ moments for others? I can. I will. I do now. And that’s where the self-talk becomes more positive. By valuing my own experiences and sharing them willingly and honestly with the rest of the world, I am adding to man’s collective knowledge on the planet about life and how to live it. I am also demolishing my fences, or at least reducing their impact on my life. I still have fences: some are small enough that I can jump them as I chase my dreams. Others are more obvious and I have to take a run or two at them before I get past them on my way to my dreams. Others are just easier to see through or they don’t get in the way of moving forward. So, where are your fences?The Fences in my head