“I’m not good at that.” I don’t know about you, but this is something I tell myself a lot.
For instance, I often tell myself things like
I’m not good at running.
I’m not good at cleaning house.
I’m not good at push-ups
I tell myself these things (and others like them) quite a bit, and guess what? It’s no surprise that I don’t practice running or house cleaning or push-ups very much because I have already decided ahead of time that I can’t do them.
But no one ever told me that I am not good at doing cartwheels, and I never tell myself I am not good at them. So I just do them, and I love it.
I think a lot of us do this. Something happens that makes us decide we are not good at something, and so we quit trying to do it, and we tell ourselves and others “I’m not good at that.”
What are the things you tell yourself that you are not good at?
Granted, this feeling that we aren’t good at certain things seems to be true in some respects. It especially looks true, for instance, when we don’t feel like we are good at something and then we look at other people doing that thing, it seems, gracefully and effortlessly.
However, over the past few years, I have realized that this habit of telling ourselves “I’m not good at that” is not helpful, and it is actually not true.
Here is why.
We are born naturals.
All the paintings in this post are paintings I have done the last couple week in which I just followed my feelings and intuition and painted what came naturally. I’m a natural at abstract paintings! (You are, too.)
If you look at little kids, they are naturals at just about everything.
They are natural…
I could go on and on with this list, but perhaps you see my point. We are born having all these natural capacities, and our natural curiosity and energy and excitement for life propels us to develop these capacities in all sorts of ways.
We don’t worry if we are good at running. We just run. We don’t worry if we are good at painting, we just paint. We don’t worry if we are good at writing, we just write. We don’t worry if we are good at solving problems, we just do it.
When little kids get caught up in curiosity and wonder, they don’t compare themselves to other kids and worry how good they are at playing. They just do stuff.
And have you ever noticed how little kids (and even older kids) who are encouraged to explore and play and try new things often do really astounding and amazing things?
I have seen little kids pick up a second language rapidly. Or learn to play an instrument seemingly overnight. Or figure out how to climb up on top of a roof by themselves. Or do back flips on trampolines. Or build an elaborate fortress out of legos. Or spend hours drawing a really intricate maze.
The point is that little kids don’t worry if they are good at things. They follow their natural curiosity and wonder. They do things. And they keep doing them. And then they suddenly do really amazing and surprising things because they just keep practicing and trying stuff.
Somehow as we grow older, we lose touch with our natural capacities, wonder, and curiosity. We start comparing ourselves to others. Other people tell us that we aren’t good at something, and we believe them.
We internalize the message “I’m not good at that”, and we stop playing, trying, wondering, growing.
What would it be like if we stopped using the phrase, “I’m not good at that”, and we replaced it with the phrase, “I’m a natural”?
The other night, I was looking at the dishes I needed to wash and didn’t want to wash, and I caught myself saying, “I’m not good at housekeeping. I’m not good at washing dishes.”
No one ever told me that I’m not good at doing side toe hold while hula-hooping. And I never tell myself I’m not good at it, so I just do it, and I love it.
Something inside me rebelled (I think it was my inner child) and I said to myself, “That’s not true. I’m a natural. I’m a natural at washing dishes. I’m a natural at housekeeping”.
And a light went on and, I kid you not, I felt peaceful and excited. I suddenly looked at washing dishes not as a chore at which I was doomed to fail, but a chance to connect with a part of myself that I had long forgotten.
For example, I was messy as a little child sometimes, but I also remember spending hours cleaning and organizing my room and straightening it to be a beautiful, inviting cozy place for myself. I took great joy in this. This is the energy I was tapping into when I said, “I’m a natural” about washing dishes.
And I decided yesterday that I was going to go running, and I told myself, “I’m a natural runner.” And I did, indeed, run. I ran really slowly and not very far. And I enjoyed every minute of it.
As a child I loved playing and moving in all sorts of ways, and when I told myself “I’m a natural runner”, that is the energy I was tapping into.
What is something about which you tell yourself, “I’m not good at that?”
What would it be like if you said, “I’m a natural”? This doesn’t mean you have to do it perfectly or be better than everyone or anyone else.
It just acknowledges that you have all of these physical, emotional, and spiritual capacities waiting to blossom, and affirming “I’m a natural” creates the space for that to happen.
Darling, you’re a natural.
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 I also realize that little kids have naturally destructive tendencies, and they also have natural egocentric and selfish tendencies.
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