Last weekend, for some bizarre reason I asked my hair stylist to give me bangs, which is a look I haven’t rocked since Jr. high. Back then, my bangs were a mile-high, hair-sprayed wall to match every other teenage gal’s trendy ‘do. When I grew out of that phase, I was horrified at the photographic evidence of how ridiculous those bangs looked. And I was relieved not to have the daily headache of styling my bangs, or feeling hair on my forehead. So for the past 20+ years, I had been adamantly anti-bang. Until 2 weeks ago, I would have told you they’d look awful on me, they’d be difficult to style, and they’d just annoy the hell out of me in every way.
I’ve been getting up at 7:00 or 7:30 a.m. every day for the past three weeks. It’s part of a new healthy-habit-forming routine I’m doing which I mentioned previously. This is the longest period of time I’ve ever consistently woken up at a decently early hour, when I wasn’t forced to by my work or school schedule. I’m not an early riser, I’m a night owl. I’m a free spirit. I like working for myself so that I don’t have to wake up at a certain hour.
I cook for 20 people once a month. I live at a co-op where this is required of me, and when I applied to live there I thought it would just be something I would have to endure: it would be the price to pay for living in a thriving, sustainable community. Prior to residing there, I was not a good cook, and saw no reason to do anything about it—my ‘cooking’ was limited to reheating takeout, and creatively mixing boxed cereals and I was OK with that.
But you know what?
I love my new hairstyle. I’m waking up every day before my alarm goes off, and it’s starting to feel entirely natural to be up early enough to catch the last spectacular moments of sunrise. I’ve become a pretty decent chef and I look forward to the opportunity to get creative and be of service to others when I prepare a nourishing meal.
So I’m sensing a trend here: when I question my assumptions (or act anyway in spite of them), great things can happen. I know this doesn’t sound like mind-blowing stuff, but it is.
What are the negative, or limiting assumptions are you making about yourself right now? Maybe some of these:
- I’m not an organized person—my home/office is always a mess
- I’m late for everything
- I’ll never be truly successful
- I’ll always be overweight
- I hate exercise
- I’ll never get along with my _____ [sister/father/colleague/boss/employee/etc.]
- I can’t ______ [sing/dance/play guitar/act/paint/etc.]
- I can’t wear ______ even if I want to, because I’ll look silly, or call attention to myself
I challenge you to take one such assumption you have of yourself, and test it out a little bit. If you’re not ready to take real action, that’s fine. You can loosely adapt Byron Katie’s template for questioning thoughts. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this true? (yes or no)
- Can I know for certain that it’s true? (yes or no—and FYI, if you’re being truthful, the answer is always no)
- How do I feel when I believe this assumption? (Sad, frustrated, angry, disappointed, shameful, etc.)
- Who would I be without this assumption? (Imagine how your life might be if you never had that assumption about yourself.)
- Can I turn this assumption around? (For example, if you believe that you hate exercise, you could turn it around by recalling times when you’ve loved being active in some way.)
I loved this Lifehack article because it manages to make the point, in a very elegant way, that you actually have many lifetimes while inhabiting the body you’re currently in. How? It takes about seven years to master something, so if you live to be 88, you’ll have 11 opportunities to master different things. That’s also a great deal of time to learn what types of exercise you enjoy, or to try different approaches to difficult relationships, or adopt new habits.
Come on—if I can learn to cook, seriously, anything is possible.