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I’m Not a Gymnast (And other lies we tell ourselves)

Dec 10, 2020

For a large part of my life I was incredibly shy. As a kid, I didn't speak to my gymnastics coach. Ever. She would ask me questions and I would shrug my shoulders or nod my head but I'd rarely say a single word to her.

As a teenager when I had to give presentations at school, I was terrified. I would read from my notes and rush through as fast as I could. Engaging with the audience or even looking at them was not on my radar. It was all about survival.

But now a lot of what I do is either talking to a camera, teaching skills, doing Instagram lives, teaching live classes and workshops in front of lots of people. Recently I was wondering when and how that change occurred. When did I lose that fear of speaking?

And then it occurred to me that when I moved to Canada (in 2007) and I started a new job, everyone labeled me as someone who was good at giving presentations. This was not based on any evidence or examples of me giving presentations. This was a label assigned to me for no apparent reason. And because I was given that label, I suddenly had this confidence that, “Oh yeah, I'm good at presentations”. I started to believe it.

I started to give more presentations (because I was good at it)that slowly became more of a reality. It was an amazingly powerful experience.

I think this can be true with many of the things that we tell ourselves, such as, “I'm not good at acrobatics or gymnastics”. Or “I'm not flexible”, “I'm not strong”, “I'm not good at running”. The stories we tell ourselves become the reality.

But we can change that story. We don't have to all of a sudden tell ourselves, “I'm an amazing runner, I’ll do a marathon tomorrow” or “I’m as good as Simone Biles, time to do a double twisting double back off the beam”. But start to question the labels you have given yourself.

I know a lot of adults who are amazing handbalancers and acrobats who never did gymnastics when they were younger. Some of these adults were incredible stiff when they started or lacked strength or felt uncoordinated. But all these attributes are trainable. So believe that you are capable, train the attributes that you need and stop telling yourself what you can and can’t do.

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