What if You're Not Who You Say You Are?

My client, Jackie (not her real name), told me in her first session about how she went from being a non-runner to a runner. She talked extensively about how she never saw herself as someone who exercised or was fit or who ran. During Covid, that changed...

During Covid, she became a runner step by step. She talked about how powerful this made her feel.

The Way We See & Define Ourselves

At the end of our coaching journey together, we came back to this. Our sessions revolved a lot around anxiety and stress she experienced at work. She got some tools to address this and to understand more about the emotions she was experiencing so she could navigate them. This felt like her taking back control rather than the anxiety controlling her.

In our last session, she had this amazing insight: she had always thought that by not looking at her emotions, she was 'dealing' with them in a way because she wasn't focusing on them. She prided herself on not being an 'emotional' person. 

Through our work, she realized she IS an emotional person because, as all humans do, she experiences emotions whether she wants to or not. She now understood that by getting more in touch with these emotions, she had more control or agency over them. 

I reminded her of these huge discoveries about herself. This was just another way she had defined herself, which had limited who she was and what she was experiencing. 

Jackie concluded our coaching engagement intent on continuing her self discovery process. She left knowing there was so much more to discover - identities to let go and others to embrace.

Is This the Right Story for You Now?

I see this in the lives of my clients often - those stories they tell themselves that might or might not be true. Through exploration, we can discover who they want to be, now, at this stage of their life.

I've experienced this in my own life too, many times. Similar to Jackie, I told myself I didn't like sports as a child because I wasn't good at team sports. I was always picked last to be on teams at school, which didn't exactly boost my confidence. Actually, I felt very bad about myself because of this, especially because the school I was in was very sports focused.

I wonder sometimes what my school days would've been like if I had simply defined myself as someone who didn't like team sports much, but who enjoyed biking, hiking, walking, running, cross country skiing - all things I found out I really liked. 

I see how that definition certainly limited my confidence, but also the way I saw myself and what I was willing to try and experiment with. I remember feeling very empowered when, in my 40s, I ran a 10K - something I never would've thought I could do when I had that old definition of not being 'sporty'.

Lately, I've been redefining the kind of person I am in another way. 

I've never considered myself a desert person. Cities, small quaint towns, the ocean and even the mountains - all places that feel like me. But the desert has never really called.

The picture above was taken recently at a private camping spot in Joshua Tree, California. And for the last couple months, I've opened up to the calm, expansive energy of the desert. For a few months of the year, I can definitely be a desert person. 

What will allowing myself to be a desert person bring, I wonder?

And now to you...

What stories do you tell yourself that could be limiting you in some way? What would happen if you modified or completely changed this story?


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