You know, I just don’t enjoy ___________.
I don’t wear _________, it’s just not me.
I don’t believe in __________ , I’ve always thought…
I have never done __________, it’s just not something I’d do.
I’ve never tried ____________, I don’t think I’d like it much.
Think for a minute about all the ways we define ourselves by what we don’t like, don’t do, don’t try, don’t believe, don’t wear, don’t eat, etc. It seems to me that we often have a pretty firm list of limiting factors that define who we are, and often to our own detriment. Sure there are some things we don’t do because we have firmly grounded convictions about things. I don’t wear high thong panties with low cut pants because it’s terribly immodest even if I was of an age that it was socially acceptable. I believe in modesty because being sexually alluring is great in the privacy of one’s home but being overtly sexually alluring in public is disrespectful of others and places sexuality at the top of the list of ways one defines oneself. You see, I have a firmly held set of convictions that establishes a “why” behind my beliefs. I don’t just believe blindly, I believe “in” something and that belief constrains my actions.
We often put limitations on our beliefs and actions based on nothing more that “I just don’t do that” or “I just don’t believe that.” And these limiting factors often encase us in a dogmatic existence without a foundation of “why.” We start limiting ourselves based on what we are comfortable with or accustomed to without really looking outside the way we’ve defined ourselves to the possibilities beyond.
I used to watch “What Not To Wear” on TLC. The show fascinated me because friends would nominate someone who was in a clothing rut. Their wardrobe was considered age inappropriate or drab or ill fitting and flat out unflattering. The clothing intervention caused the candidate who accepted the challenge to step outside the box of what was comfortable and venture forth with a new vision of what was possible. In the end, it was remarkable to see the transformation. The candidate wouldn’t just change their wardrobe but their entire attitude about themselves and outlook on the world around them. It wasn’t just the clothes that suddenly transformed the person, it is what the clothes did for their attitudes about themselves. They were able to see themselves in a different light and that thinking inevitably inspired a new confidence, sense of self, positive attitude and new sense about possibilities of what they could accomplish in their lives. Seeing a makeover was fun, but seeing the new “self” emerge from the old way of thinking is what always intrigued me.
I now watch “The Biggest Loser” for the same reason; watching people transform their old self by developing a new mind set with new habits and attitudes about themselves is remarkable to watch. Their “I can’t,” “I don’t,” ” I never have,” I won’t” limiting attitudes are replaced with a new internal dialog and new outlook on their lives, relationships, habits and possibilities. Again, it is not the physical transformation that I find intriguing, but what that transformation represents and what it inspires the contestants to think about themselves and their place in the world.
One of the biggest life-changing transformations I’ve experienced (besides my faith in Christ and my marriage to my awesome husband) was the decision to become a referee — well, if you can call being dragged off to a beginning referee course by one’s husband a “choice.” I had no freaking clue about soccer, except that there was a ball, two nets and some guy named Pele who was good at putting the ball in the net. Yup, that’s it, the sum total of my soccer knowledge. But my kids played in a league that was run by volunteers and my hubby thought it was a snazzy idea to volunteer himself and me to become referees. I guess the idea of running after a bunch of 8 and 9 year old kids on a field, occasionally tweeting a whistle didn’t sound too hard, so I went along with the idea.
The next year, my darling hubby “volunteered” me again to take another clinic to ref in a different league, one where we got paid to run after kids on a field. And the following year I was “volunteered” to take a class to be a High School soccer referee. Me… ya, the “ref” with two whole years experience tweeting whistles on fields with kids 12 years old and under, a High School ref… Riiiiiiigggghhhht. But, it was my hubby’s idea and he thought it would be fun to do together. It was, but boy did it challenge who I was and what I thought of myself. News flash… the least popular person at any sporting event is the referee. Whistle in mouth = target on back. Thanks, Honey.
The thing that you likely don’t know about me is that I used to be terribly insecure and self conscious. I was one of the littlest kids in my class in school, I cried easily and was socially awkward. I was the kid who was teased mercilessly because it was fun to make me cry. I was the kid who was tripped in the hallways because it was fun to get everyone laughing at me. I was the kid who spaced out in class so often that the teacher would call on me to answer a question when I had no clue what class I was in, much less what the topic she was teaching. Ya… I was THAT kid. I was so emotionally beat up and bruised by the time I got out of school, that it’s a wonder I made it as far as I have in life.
And to become a referee, the target of at least one half of the players, coaches and fan’s ire at any given moment? Are you kidding me? How does that happen? If you weigh how sensitive I was and how fearful I was of other people’s opinions, you can understand how utterly absurd it is that I ever took a referee course, much less stuck with it for the last 18 years. And I love being a referee so much, I took up a second sport to officiate, one in which I am a minority among minorities — a female wrestling referee. Don’t ask me how much I love it, you’ll have a hard time shutting me up!
So, how DID I ever experience such a transformation in my life? What in the world kept me from tucking tail and running for my life the minute some parent or coach voiced their, shall we say “displeasure,” when I called a foul against their precious future Olympian? Well, I took the courses and acquired the badges in the first place to please my husband, whom I like spending time with more than just about anyone else. But knowing nothing about the game and being sensitive to ridicule should have cause me to run and hide rather than stick with it even after my husband had quit officiating. It SHOULD have, but it didn’t.
At some point in the progression of unwitting “volunteer” to confident USSF Grade 7 referee (I officiate up through men’s amateur league,) something changed in me… something HAD to change in me. When I first started 18 years ago, I came into a local referee association that was not exactly supportive of a novice female referee. They pretty much treated me as a “temporary” fixture and paid me little attention or respect. So, not only did I have plenty of adversaries on the field, I was surrounded by presumed peers that discounted my existence and who gave me little or no support.
At some point, something changed within me, something “clicked.” I started to see myself as a referee and I became determined to be the best referee that I could. I figured I’d have to know more and work harder to earn less respect than the men around me. But I grew to love the game and I WANTED to be a referee, I WANTED the challenge that it presented. I embraced the new challenge and became a new me. And truthfully, it was the most outstanding and fulfilling personal development course I’ve ever undertaken. But, none of this would have ever happened if I had kept with the “I can’t,” “I don’t,” “I wouldn’t” attitudes that had previously defined me. I had to risk the unknown to venture forth in my new life.
I’ve found that over the years life has presented many course-altering opportunities and many of them required a mind and heart open to something new, different and even uncomfortable. I’ve even embarked on a new career path, one in which I swore I would NEVER do, one that I thought I hated and one that I formerly despised. Seriously, if you would have told me that I’d fall in love with the opportunity that a direct sales/relationship marketing company presented, I’d have laughed in your face. I DON’T do that sort of thing. I NEVER will do that kind of business. Well, it seems that God has the last laugh once again and I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone, embrace a new paradigm in my thinking and reconsider what it is that I could do if I only gave myself the chance to step forth with a new attitude and outlook on life.
What possibilities are waiting for you? What adventure, what new attitude? What could you do or change if you gave yourself permission to abandon your “I can’ts” and “I don’ts?” Maybe you could start with a new pair of shoes? Maybe a new haircut? Or maybe even some thong underwear? Just don’t wear them with low-cut pants cuz I don’t want to see it!