Last week I watched a tv programme about a ballet company where all the dancers were a mixture of people you wouldn't usually find in the world of classical ballet; curvy women and big built men. It was spectacular! One of the company told a story about how she had always been told she was too tall to be a ballerina and when it was time to cast shows, she would always be cast as a boy.
BAM. That hit me hard.
I don't remember who told me I was too tall and maybe nobody ever verbalised it, but it was certainly implied and I was aware of my height from about 6 years old. Like this woman, I was nearly always cast as a boy. I wanted to wear the gorgeous white tutus like the other girls, instead I got pantaloons made from a dodgy taffeta fabric, a billowy shirt and usually some sort of horrendous hat. There is a picture of me dressed in similar outfit to the one I just described when a friend and I danced the parts of Jack and Jill in a show. I am nearly a foot taller than the girl who played Jill...She was a year older than me. One of my other friends got to wear a beautiful purple tutu and I was extremely jealous.
The belief that could never be a ballerina followed me for years right past when I quit dancing at 19 and well into my twenties. I was good though and if I'd have wanted to I could have been a contemporary dancer, in fact any I could have chosen any type of dance. I just chose to hold this limiting belief which stopped me. I stopped me.
When we get a case of the "I should's" we are putting a huge block across our path that leads to us believing the thought and holding that limiting belief for years until we figure out that it was never true in the first place or that we have skewed it so much that it no longer resembles the truth.
"I should have been a dancer. I could have had a brilliant career by now."
or my favourites that crop up most often for me...
"I should be making more money."
"I should have a good job by now."
"I should be enjoying my 20s instead of worrying about how I'll pay rent."
Talk about putting pressure on yourself and putting yourself down. But lean into the "I should's" and you will find they easily turn into questions that you haven't yet dealt with.
"Why don't I make more money?"
"Why didn't I become a dancer?"
There are usually two answers. The first is the one that blames every one else but yourself. The second is the brutally honest truth.
Why don't I make more money?
1. Ugh the recession!
2. I haven't focused myself on what I want to do.
Why didn't I become a dancer?
1. They told me I was too tall!
2. I loved it but it wasn't my passion or my mission in life.
I've worked on these for several years so I find my truth quite easily and quickly now. To get to the truth of the thought I love using Byron Katie's The Work to explore these types of thoughts and limiting beliefs. You can find her resources and downloads here.
Now let's shut these thoughts down. Grab a pen and paper!
Write down your 'I should'.
Write that baby down on paper, say it out loud, even tell it to some one you trust.
Is it true?
Is your thought true? If your answer is no, ask yourself can you absolutely, positively, without any shadow of doubt, know that your thought is true?
How do you feel when you believe the thought?
Be honest with yourself. When I think about how I should have been a dancer I feel cheated, envious and like I have wasted my time and my talent.
Who would you be if you didn't have this thought?
Would you be carefree? Happy? I know that I'd focus on what I should be doing in life instead of dwelling on the past.
After you've asked the 4 questions Byron Katie asks us to find turnarounds to our thought.
Here's my thought again:
I should have been a dancer.
And here are my turnarounds...
I shouldn't have been a dancer.
I could have been a dancer. (But I chose not to be.)
I love using Katie's questions to dig deeper. It was an eye-opening experience the first few times I used the technique and it always sets me back on the path to having clarity.
What "I should's" have come up for you recently? Do you have any that recur?