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Who are you really?

Updated: Jun 14, 2021

We all have narratives - stories that explain who we are and how we became who we are. Of course, these are largely fictional: we don’t remember half the things that happened and our narrative self is always rewriting the story to fit with our current idea of self, deleting, modifying and adding passages that can completely contradict the previous version.

Take a moment to consider your narrative. Identify the key characters in your story and look for the oversimplifications. Can you think of other memories that don’t quite fit your narrative? Can you tell the story differently? Is this story fundamentally any less true?

In one of our conversations, one of my handstand students (and amazing PT and strength coach in his own right!) David ( highlighted how events that you don’t think have much meaning at the time, or that seem to hold negative meaning, can play a large role in forming who you are. His old tennis coach was so bad that it shaped David’s own desire to be the best coach he could be. Had his coach just been average, David said, « I might have turned out average too!»

As Tony Riddle (@thenaturallifestylist) says “it’s not happening to you, it’s happening for you.

Sometimes the stories we believe can be quite limiting. One of my students once told me that every time they came to train with me, just before the session started, they would be thinking: « I’m so slow at learning the stuff Sam teaches me, I’m never going to be able to pick it up.» My student thought that I was just a « movement god » (their words not mine... I am most definitely not a god! - in my narrative at least!) and that I was super gifted. They’d start each session feeling down and wouldn’t enjoy the session much. So they were super surprised to learn (they were learning pistol squats) that until just a few years previously, I hadn‘t been able to squat on two legs, that it was only after a major injury and surgery and 2 years of rehab that I had managed my first pistol squat, and that I had actually always felt really slow at learning movement. I told them about my struggles as a dancer trying to learn the fast choreography and how I struggled to catch up with my more experienced peers. I told them how I spent literally hours alone in a studio trying to work out the basics that I hadn’t understood in class. I told them about all the stupid mistakes and injuries I got because I got the technique wrong, and about how patiently after years of effort, things fell into place. Now they feel much better in sessions, without much changing. Since this talk they have successfully achieved the pistol squat, but more importantly, their narrative has changed. They don’t see themselves as a slow learned or a bad mover any more. They’ve learned to enjoy the ups and downs of learning. And THAT is truly amazing.

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