When I was growing up, my mother used to say to me, “You resemble your father’s side of the family. You have short legs and a long torso”. She was so confident in her opinion, and because no one else contradicted her, I came to accept her view. In my mind, I was a person with short legs and a long torso. Done deal. But about 15 years ago I had a reality-changing moment that upended my long-held belief.
I was working with a personal trainer who I really trusted because of her background as a dancer and her focus on strength, flexibility and balance. As we were working on some leg exercises, she said, “I need to adjust the equipment because you have long legs.” I looked at her in amazement, so much so that she stopped and asked me what I was thinking. I told her my mother’s version of my legs and she laughed.
She said, “Karol, I work with people of all shapes and sizes and I can tell you from experience, you don’t have short legs”. She then stood next to me in front of a mirror and with her hands, showed me the distance of my waist to my knees and my knees to my feet. By having me focus on the visual image in front of me, my trainer helped me shift my perspective and drop an old belief about my body.
Over the years clients have also come to me with ingrained beliefs about who they are. They have said “I’m not smart or strong or beautiful or deserving of love”. This perspective deeply affected their self-esteem and confidence. Of course sitting opposite them I saw such a different picture. With time, self-examination and support their view of themselves did eventually change. When that happened they shifted into an updated reality, one that made them feel happier with who they were.
How about you? Is there a perspective that needs changing in your life? If so, here are some questions to consider.
- What messages were you given about your intelligence, looks or capabilities?
- Who did you learn them from?
- What phrases do you automatically say to yourself about any aspect of who you are?
- Is what you believe really accurate?
- When is the last time you got a reality-check about your perceptions?
- Who could you turn to for a reality-check?
When you do get feedback, take a moment to write, text email yourself what you have heard so that you can refer to it anytime you need a boost.
“Why not use your mentality, wake up to reality” is from a Cole Porter’s song, I’ve Got You Under My Skin and I think it captures the shift in perspective I am talking about.
By the way, here is a recording of Frank Sinatra singing, I’ve Got You Under My Skin, who in my opinion is one of the finest interpreters of music and lyrics there has ever been. I’ve Got You Under My Skin