Range of Self-Limiting Beliefs

“I am who I am.”

Or if you’re Popeye: “I yam who I yam.”

This is the mantra of people who have a fixed mindset – the belief that we cannot change. I agree with this notion in one respect. I do think we’re capable of growth (growth mindset) to become better versions of our authentic selves but I’ve also realized I have a very limited vision of who I am. In other words, I can be described by this list of, say, 12 nouns and 18 adjectives. I can grow and be better versions of those nouns and adjectives. I’m not any of the remaining hundreds of nouns and adjectives. Thus I really have beliefs that span both the fixed and growth mindset.

That being said, I would also claim that even if I questioned my belief about those hundreds of self-descriptors that, I’m likely not some savant in those areas.

Or maybe I am.

I’ve known of people who have picked up hobbies in their mid- or late-life and have become accomplished and successful in a role that would not have ever fallen into their self-description. For example, I discovered my passion and talent for coaching and development somewhat recently. I had no clue, aside from the scores of times others told me I was good at it.

Yeah, no clue. And I still couldn’t imagine myself beyond those 12 self-described roles.

So maybe it’s not a question of whether I can grow at something, but rather a question of my ability to reconsider my self-conception: “I’m not artistic.” “I’m not crafty.” “I’m not athletic.” “I’m not good at….”

You might’ve read my blog about my Humiliating Art Escapade where I crashed into a self-limiting belief and subsequently decided to identify and challenge such beliefs, specifically in this case about my artistic ability. Fast forward to my gal-group going to Paintnite. Paintnite is this activity where you pay and show up (my favorite) and are led through a painting exercise. No pre-printed grids to guide your paintbrush. In theory, you could paint a rowboat or an alien, but you’re given instructions on how to paint the picture du jour.   Unlike my last paint-by-numbers homework assignment where I grumbled and moaned for a couple of hours, much to my delight, I really enjoyed this activity possibly in large part due to the company of my dear, and extremely supportive, friend Anne. I’m actually thinking of signing up for a class.

So the moral of the story is, regardless of whether you think we can change or not, consider rethinking your own assumptions about yourself. You may enjoy who you discover!

Exploring my artistic side

Having fun exploring my artistic side