What’s Your Mindset? Are You an Elephant?

I stumbled across this the other day:

Think about it...

Interesting, right? It got me thinking about the things in my own life that hold me back. I’ve stopped working on a novel that I really believe in because I’ve created false boundaries for myself, I gave up a solid month where I could have been writing and looking for freelance gigs because I believed I wasn’t a good enough writer to make it work, and I stop myself from having certain experiences in life because of my Ulcerative Colitis.

This is a bunch of crap. Honestly.

There are fake shackles that I’ve created in my mind. Beyond that, how many of us have believed something about ourselves for so long that it turns over from something imagined to something real, something that is part of us? That’s how it is with my UC. For so long I’ve believed that if I’m not fully in remission, then traveling will be too difficult, going out to eat will be nearly impossible, exercising will only make me feel worse. No more.

On Sunday I went with my husband to this kick boxing studio where one of his friends from work does personal training. It’s a small gym and we were the only 3 people there, which was nice. She worked us out hard, but it felt incredible since I don’t do more than walk with the dog and practice yoga a few days a week. There were these sayings all over the walls of the gym and printed on t-shirts they were selling, things like “Pain is weakness leaving the body” and “Pain is beauty, and I feel beautiful today.”

I went there thinking I would suck at kick boxing and be terrible at throwing punches. But you know what? I’m not bad at it. I got lost in the punching, actually. It was hypnotic, having my hands bound in wraps and sweating inside boxing gloves. I was so focused on turning my wrist at the right second, nailing the target on the punching pads, bending my leg at just the right moment that I forgot about the lies I tell myself, the things that I say to keep myself locked up. I shook off the stupid mentality that I can’t go work out because it will be too hard on my stomach. My stomach was fine. And while every muscle in my body is hurting today, it was well worth it.

I do the same thing with my writing. I tell myself I’ll start working on something tomorrow (that short story I’m thinking about, the novel that’s been growing in my brain for 3 years now, sending out queries to magazines) when really that’s just another false boundary I create. For what? To keep things simple? To head of rejection and failure before they can be real?

Forget that. I’m not going to be an elephant.

What are the false boundaries you’ve created in your life? Do you recognize them and give them power, or take their power away?

8 thoughts on “What’s Your Mindset? Are You an Elephant?”

  1. Great blog, Kristin. The story of the elephant made me sad…mainly because I find animals held captive sad. Then realizing that I do that to myself (much like you), it was almost empowering. Who am I to tell myself no. I have a quote taped up to my computer that says,

    “All your life you are told the things you cannot do.
    All your life they will say you’re not good enough
    or strong enough or talented enough; they will say
    you’re the wrong height or the wrong weight or the
    wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this.
    They will tell you no, a thousand times no, until all
    the no’s become meaningless. All your life they will
    tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly.
    And you will tell them yes.”

    You blog and this quote will make me shout, “yes, a million times yes.” I, just like you, can achieve what we want. You are a terrific writer, so go for it, my friend!

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    1. Thanks for the comment! I hear you. I think we tell ourselves no as a defense mechanism. If I am the one saying no, then it’s not as painful as, say, a magazine editor saying no to my pitch, or an agent saying no to my book, or whatever else I can say “no” to in my head. I think we protect ourselves and our egos by putting those boundaries up. We create dreams for ourselves (“I want to be a writer” or “I want to learn to sail a boat” etc) but there’s always the possibility that we won’t be good enough at those things to be successful and people will tell us that. Then the dream is dead. So we stop ourselves from writing that novel or taking sailing lessons.

      I find that more often than not, people surprise and amaze themselves with what they’re truly capable of when they try. It’s all in the mind. Believe that you are capable, and you will be.

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  2. Great post Kristin! Don’t give up on your novel. After a bunch of rejections, I’m writing mine over again from scratch. But you know what? It’s really empowering. I can tell that it’s better this time. I hope you keep writing and continue kick boxing . I’d love to hear what your novel is about =)

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    1. Thanks, Meredith! It’s great to hear that your novel is getting stronger from your rewrite. I’m definitely going to continue writing and probably kick boxing, too. Both are empowering! I would rather give myself strength and confidence instead of take it away like I often do. We should email and chat about our novels! Let me know if you’re up for that🙂 My email is kristinoffilerwrites@gmail.com.

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      1. Hi Kristin! I’m definitely up for it. My email is meredith.jaeger@gmail.com. As soon as I get off work, I’m going home to edit (rewrite) chapter 3! I just realized we could do gchat too since we both have gmail. That’s cool : )

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