How many times have you said, “I can’t do that!” or “I’m not that type of person” or “that’s just not me” as your excuse not to do something? Maybe you’ve said, I’m not confident enough, I’m not attractive enough, I’m not smart enough, or I’m not enough of something, instead.
These are usually the go-to excuse that people make to themselves and to other people, to justify not trying something they either don’t want to do or are too afraid to do. These shoddy and lame excuses are just limitations that we put in our own minds.
“Argue for your limitations an sure enough, they are yours” – Richard Bach
Be honest with yourself, have you ever tried really hard to do something that you claim you can’t do? Have you ever tried to change into the type of person who would try? Is there anything that is really stopping you? Or are you just scared?
extreme Example time
Ashley asked Jack if he would bungee jump off of a cliff bridge. Jack laughed, called Ashley crazy, and said ‘I can’t do that! There is no way!” Then repeated “that something I would never do! I’m not an adrenaline junky”
Ashley then asked Keith the same question. Keith responded by telling Ashley he had already tried to bungee jump off an even higher bridge but he just could not go through with it. He said he’s not courageous enough to do it. He’s just not an adventurous person.
Ashley then hired 3 goons to tie Jack and Keith to the bungee cord against their will and pushed them herself. “See! You did it!” she yelled to them as they plunged down towards the water.
Okay that’s a bit of a stretch but it wasn’t that it was actually impossible for Jack or Keith to bungee jump off of a bridge. It was their fear and the limits in their mind that were stopping them from trying something out of their comfort zone.
The limits in their mind and concept of who they were, “not adventurous” “adrenaline junky” (and their fear of plunging to their possible death) that were stopping them from even trying it. How would Jack and Keith really know that they wouldn’t enjoy bungee jumping off of a bridge if they didn’t try?
I’d like to think that after they experienced facing their fear, they would be grateful to Ashley. I’m here to tell you to stop limiting yourself to who you think you are. Who you think you are is wrong, your self concept is shaped by your fears, your experiences, and external influences, which can be incorrect. You are highly adaptable and have amazing capacity to change.
Do not put yourself into a box or label yourself, it is stopping you from growth. It’s stopping you from experiencing new and amazing things you may never know you loved, like bungee jumping off of a bridge.
Not That type of person
The number one excuse I hear from people who do not want to do something is ‘I’m not that type of person’ or ‘it just doesn’t work for me’ or “there is no way I can pull that off’.
I actually used to take this as an answer or legitimate excuse. Maybe some people weren’t the type of person to be a certain way? Every one is different so there must be differences in our personalities that limit us. Right?
We know who we are so we claim thing about ourselves as truths. I’m lazy. I’m not a gym person. I am not a writer. I’m not outgoing. I am not bubbly. I’m not girly. I am not good at drawing. I’m not. I’m not. I am not a lot of things. Other people use the excuse of not being enough of something, not smart enough, not athletic enough, not beautiful enough.
We put mental barriers around ourselves through these labels. They stop us from doing things. They stop us from even trying. We allow these faults that we know are our character flaws be our excuses not to even give it a shot.
Back in college, I got in trouble for not keeping in touch with my best friends. I will admit that I know I was bad at it. I would never reach out to them and we would only talk when we saw each other a on breaks. They were rightfully pissed. I used to justify to myself that it was okay because I wasn’t the type of person to reach out. I needed a constant rapport or interaction with someone in order to keep in touch regularly.
I used this character flaw as an excuse. I didn’t even try to reach out to my friends even though they told me it was bothering them. All I needed to do was send a text every couple days asking how they were doing or call them once a week to check in. I didn’t do that small thing to make them happy.
I didn’t try because I told myself I wasn’t that type of person. That’s the worst part. We don’t even try because we have already justified it to ourselves. We have the capacity to change, most of us are just too lazy to make it.
Society has also put limits in your mind
We are constantly bombarded by external stimuli telling us how to act, how to dress and even how to think about certain things. The media tells us one things, while our family and friends tell us others. These are constantly reinforced as “truths” so we begin to believe them.
As a woman and a minority, I am used to hearing a lot of stereotypes and remarks about who I should be. It is absurd how many insulting questions I have been asked and assumptions have been made about me. I have been asked if I worked in a nail salon, told I should be better at math, and asked how tight my vagina is.
I have had my political views, my social views, and my opinions regarded as less intelligent or valuable solely because I don’t look like or have the same private parts as the person judging me.
Now that I am a little older (scared to say a little wiser), I realize how much I let those opinions affect me. The more people tell you should be this way the more likely you are going to believe that they are true. I allowed myself to believe that I was somehow less than other people and even more superior to others.
Believing these things caused my actions to reflect them as truth. At times, I saw myself holding myself back from saying something because I knew my audience would automatically think it was stupid. I stopped myself from taken the road less traveled in terms of a career path because of what other people would think.
I started to act in a more masculine way because feminists told me that I was less of one if I acted feminine. I acted more American because other people told me that I was less of one because of my descent. Instead of stating an opinion that I strongly believed in, I held my tongue because I would be called a bitch.
By limiting yourself to who you think you are or what you think you’re not, you are inhibiting your own growth. You may not be that type of person now but you can do things to become that type of person. Placing your own mental limits enables you to keep using your faults as an excuse to behave the way you do. Allowing other people’s limits on you will stop you from being who you are.
I knew a guy in high school who we will call Fred. Fred was not very good with girls. He was your stereotypical nerdy guy, with poor hygiene, who had no confidence in himself when it came to women. High school Fred thought that he would be a single virgin forever. He thought there was no way a girl could never like him for who he was. Whenever I would tell him that all he needed to do was fake his confidence, he said he tries.
Fred would argue that he was just not the type of person that would ever be truly confident. He wasn’t the type of guy who wanted to aggressively go after girls. He claimed he wasn’t the type of guy who girls wanted. Society also told him that guys like him never got the girl, except in the movies.
Fred was limiting himself to who he thought he was and the surrendered to the outcomes of those limits. He was limiting his own self improvement not because he wasn’t that type of guy. He was honestly just scared of being rejected and challenging himself to be the type of guy he wanted to be. Being good with girls was so far outside of his self-concept that he couldn’t believe he would do it.
You can be Anyone
Think back to how much you have changed over the course of your life. You have changed since high school. After graduating college, you have been through so many different experiences that are bound to have changed you into a different person.
You may be working in a field that you never thought you would be in but love or you might be married or have kids or all of the above. These things will have changed the way you think about yourself. You are now ‘wife’ or ‘husband’ and ‘mom’ or ‘dad’ and you have changed to fit into those roles.
Everyone is constantly changing, evolving, and growing. You are not who you think you are. Your view of yourself is not objective. It is highly contingent on your mood, your mindset, who you surround yourself, down to the things you see on TV all affect the way you see yourself. How many days have you felt good about yourself, only a few days to look in the mirror and feel terrible?
Back to my friend Fred. After graduating from high school, he went to one of the top universities in the country. In his freshman year of college he met who he now calls the ‘most influential dude ever’. The dude taught Fred how to be more confident. He convinced Fred that he has to demand respect from not only others but from himself.
Taking Fred’s new found confidence they actively started to pursue girls together. After a year of trial and error and a lot of time spent hitting the weights at the gym. Fred was able to not only talk to girls but able to get most girls to easily fall for him.
I am happy to report that Fred is getting married next year to one of them. He was able to shed the ‘bad with girls’ label that he applied to himself and grow.
Stop limiting Yourself with labels
Since you are constantly changing might as well change into the person you want to be. Whether you want to bungee jump off of a bridge, become better with girls like Fred, or be someone who likes to run, you have to stop labeling yourself as someone who can’t or isn’t that type of person because you are not who you think you are.
If you think that you can’t be something, you have already lost. There will be no attempt to even try. You will stay stuck as the person who can’t. Then you will forever be the person who didn’t.
Even though you can do and be anything.
You may not be able to do the things you want to right now, but you can get there. If Fred changed into the people that we never thought we could be, you can too! Be more like Fred!
Forget the person who you think you are. Forget all of the reasons you are ‘not that type of person,’ you are. Stop limiting yourself. You are whoever you want to be. You are that type of person.
Thank you for reading! Come back for new posts every Tuesday!
© 2017, Asian on the Outside, All Rights Reserved