Revisiting the FACTS of our Childhood

August 8, 2013

Part of the work I do is to help clients question their “limiting beliefs”. We all have them. Some we may have created ourselves e.g.” I’m not rich enough or thin enough or I don’t have enough time”. These are the ones that we are consciously aware of and are actively working to get past. There is however another category where the beliefs are far more insidious, the ones that we are barely even aware of as limiting beliefs because we know them to be FACTS.  They were handed to us as children by a parent, teacher or older sibling – an authority figure whom we never questioned.  When we are six or eight or ten, if a teacher announces to us that we can not draw or sing, we really probably don’t have the capacity to question or decide for ourselves whether that is true or not. We simply accept the statements as FACTS because they are given to us by a grown up.  Those people that know everything! Right? Wrong!!!! The terrible thing about this is that from that moment on we act from those FACTS.

As you may have guessed, I got given these two FACTS when I was at boarding school by two well meaning teachers (I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt). By the time I was twelve I was even convinced that I was bad at drawing stick men. I was bad at art and definitely could not sing. My dream of singing the opening solo of “Once in Royal David City”  to a full chapel at christmas mass was shattered early. As I grew older I added to these FACTS and allowed them to grow in all sorts of directions. I took being bad at art  to mean that “I am not creative and I can’t make things with my hands”.  My children go to a Waldorf school and I recoil when mention is made of parents helping with crafting of any sort. In fact I declare upfront that I don’t have any arty skills.  I have extrapolated the not being able to sing to mean that I can’t project my voice and I generally hate making any utterance in public. These FACTS  have to some extent kept me playing small in the world.

I have observed the impact that some of these FACTS have had on my clients too and have decided to revisit some of the FACTS from my own childhood.

I started with singing. I very nervously and quietly signed up for private singing lessons and was actually surprised at all the memories it brought back for me. My best self coaching skills had to be summoned in as I reminded my self that I am not my memories or past experiences. (The fact that this teacher knew nothing of my past issues with singing also helped). Well, what a revelation.  Apparently I can sing. In fact I have a large range and a voice that carries!!! `I’m not saying that I am in the Jennifer Hudson league. The point is that I have been carrying around these FACTS for more than three decades and in my very first lesson  I  got to put down the burden. I love singing.  It makes me feel good. I feel nurtured when I sing.  I sing for me.

I’ve denied myself this pleasure based on someone else’s idea of what I am capable of.  I was handed this fact as a child and never thought about revisiting it even when I was old enough to question it for myself.

For what ever reason I found the “bad artist” label more harder to confront. This one carried more weight. On the way to my first class I could feel the panic rising up from the pit of my stomach to my neck. With the help of a most enlightened creative facilitator, I have discovered that we are all creative. There is no such thing as bad art and we all live our life as a creative expression! Here again I have stumbled upon another area where I have been denying myself joy. During the three hour weekly classes I have an intense experience of what it feels like to be present. The class has become my current passion. Allowing myself this weekly time to play has given me such profound learnings that I may not have gotten on such a visceral level elsewhere.

This is a long winded way of me inviting you to to revisit the FACTS from your childhood. What if there is a possibility that the FACTS you were handed are in fact lies! I love a good acronym so I have decided to make FACTS stand for :

 FALSE ANNOUNCEMENTS CHILDREN TAKE SERIOUSLY

Would it not be worth examining how the FACTS from your childhood have shaped your life? Your next big adventure may be lying dormant in  some belief that has, up until now closed doors for you. Luckily, life can change in any moment, in the next moment that you decide.  So decide. You can create new beliefs for yourself that may serve you better, expand your experience of life and allow you to live big in the world (what ever that looks like for you). Don’t let the FACTS of your childhood determine the experiences of your present day.

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