I did it to Me!

I used to think, “They did it to me!” All along, I’d been doing it to myself.

Maybe you have your version of this.

I was recently delivering my keynote to the start of the International Enneagram Association (IEA) conference in Oakland, California. In contemplating my opening, and in particular, the specifics of my gratitude, I found a couple of surprises.

I wanted to start by thanking them for no longer seeing me as “just that movement person” — as if that had been true in the first place — and they were now also seeing me as a speaking person!

And then I laughed, because I saw that it seemed I had put that thought in my head! Whether it’s true or not, I don’t know!, and I DO know that I have the power to remove that thought!

As a “recovering shy person,” I spent my first couple of decades not speaking much, and then chose what is essentially a non-verbal career — modern dance.

And then something I hadn’t planned on!

As artistic director of my company, Moving Images Dance Co., I had always been compelled to come in front of the curtain at the beginning of the evening to greet the audience and tell them a bit about the concert. This is how it went —

I prepared my welcome. I wrote down every word, memorized it, practiced and practiced it.

Finally, I was backstage, waiting, and the “house went dark” (the audience lights went out!). I clutched my cliff notes in one hand, and walked onto the stage gripping the microphone in the other. With a spotlight on only me and looking into an audience darkened by no lights, I couldn’t see. I spoke into what looked like black air and ran through my words at a lightning speed, hoping not to forget anything and to get it over with as quickly as possible.

I was more nervous about those 3-5 minutes than anything I ever performed on stage. Only to learn, again and again, that I had spoken so quickly nobody understood a word I had said.

After 25 years of that and seven or so years in Toastmasters where I was always told, “Slow down!”, I have finally learned to slow down — though as many of you can attest — I get excited about ideas and my pace picks up. Even so, I’m more able to modulate my speed now. I feel my ideas “land,” sometimes my pace is “just right,” and I have come to love speaking.

So there I was, collecting my thoughts about my gratitude to the IEA, at first I wanted to thank them for no longer seeing me only as “She Who Doesn’t Speak; She Who Moves,” and recognized that I had taken on that role in life. And had become used to being that — for years! Besides, there was plenty of accumulating evidence to prove it was true.

In partial evidence, after my “non-verbal dance career,” I created EnneaMotion which in a way doesn’t need words (though of course I have much to say about it!).

“What if,” I asked myself, “They didn’t lay that belief on me?

What if I did it to myself?”

I did it to me!

And I saw it. I had lived much of my life believing it to be true. And holding myself back because of it.

Has that happened to you? A time when you took on a limiting belief, held it to be true, and held yourself back because of it?

After my keynote, in line for the restroom, I had a good laugh with a woman about my having been shy and now being so comfortable speaking. She said, “Now you’re ‘She Who Speaks’!”

Ahhhh, I like that so much better!

Where have you held yourself back? And what have you done to shift it?! (comment below)


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