There’s a trail here in town that I love to run on.
It’s built for mountain bikes so it has all of these great hills, some of which are quite steep.
The other day, I noticed every time I came to one of these sharp inclines, I’d say to myself ” Oh, I don’t run up hills.” .And I would stop and walk. Every. Single. Time.
It’s not that I didn’t believe I could run up the hills. I’m in fairly decent shape, so I was not trying to prove to myself that I was capable of it.
It went deeper than that.
I realized I had held this idea for so long that it had started to become part of my story. I had avoided the hills so many times that I had taken on the identity of The Girl Who Does Not Run Up Hills. And that identity was so entrenched that I could not imagine experiencing myself any other way. It had so defined who I knew myself to be that I did not see how I could be any other way.
Until I could.
On that particular day, for whatever reason, I decided I was going to be The Girl Who Charged Up The Hills.
So every time I approached a steep grade, I ran as fast as I could to the top.
Arms flying, Heart pumping, Pony tail flapping in the wind.
There were a couple of times that I even gave a primal banshee yell from the depths of my belly. And as I crested the peak, I even raised my arms like Rocky on the steps in front of his statue.
I did not do a victory fist pump in a ” Oh my God, I’m such a fucking bad ass. Look what I just did” kind of a way.
My arms went over my head because I felt more alive. More radiant. More free. And I believe that is because I expanded my own experience of myself. I took action beyond who I knew myself to be. There was now a tiny bit more of me to access. To give. To Love.
And so it is true for most of us. We all behave in ways that keep us neatly tucked inside the story of who we are. It’s as if we have a whole palette of colors available to us, but we only choose those in the green family, or the red family, because well, that’s just who we are. It’s where we feel the most comfortable and the most safe.
When there is an opportunity to select a color outside of our typical palette, we balk. We resist. We tell ourselves and others that we can’t choose a new color. It’s simply not us.
But how do we know it’s not us unless we give ourselves the chance to find out?
I did not know that I was The Girl Who Charged Up Hills until I entertained the possibility that I could be. And then I became her. It’s not that I am going to race a hill every time I encounter one. Or maybe I will. It’s just that I now know that color is an option for me, whereas before I did not.
Play. Experiment. Widen the boundaries of who ( you think) you are.
Maybe you are The Girl Who Wears Bright Red Lipstick.
Or The Girl Who listens to THAT kind of music, or who asks for THAT kind of salary from her new employer.
You will never know until you become willing to see yourself with new eyes, from a broader perspective than you ever have… and who knows what beautiful new colors you will discover were part of you all along.