Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Self-Myths, Food Allergies
For the last few weeks at Pilates, I’ve been doing hanging pull ups. While holding onto a metal frame over a table, and over six feet off the ground, I place my feet in a supported sling, I hold my body in a kind of reverse plank position and pull myself up by my arms several times. And then hold that position for thirty seconds or so. (Here’s what it looks like when someone else is doing it.) I feel strong and powerful; frequently, I’ll tweet a “Roar” after class, because that's how I feel: "Roar!"
So reading this, you might not think that I harbor a myth about myself, namely that I’m not sporty. I was an early talker, speller, writer and reader. Reading and writing were (and still are) my go-to activities. I didn’t grow up playing sports as recreation with my immediate family. Then, my body developed early. I looked like a woman, way before anyone else, and it was difficult to dress that body. School gym uniforms (shorts!) were unkind and pushed me further away from sports. Then top that off with chronic moderate asthma; most activity, indoors and outdoors equaled illness.
Not much changed about my lack of sport-i-tude until my senior year of college, at Oxford University. To get to classes every day, it was either walking or biking, several miles per day. My asthma and allergies abated, both a function of age and location is my guess. And I lost the baby weight as my body settled into its adult form – a weight I’ve stayed since college, give or take five pounds. Once I returned home to New York in the mid-1990s, I continued to walk everywhere, many miles a day and I started yoga classes, which I continued for over ten years. But still being “sporty” never entered my personal definition. Just the opposite. While doing a one-handed handstand, I didn’t think, I'm powerful or physically strong or sporty. So pernicious are these myths we have about ourselves, we can overlook the most obvious. One-handed handstand! Even when I had a sports injury, knee surgery and months of physical therapy next to major sporty-dudes, the myth persisted.
Even in Pilates, it wasn’t until I started doing hanging pull-ups that it occurred to me, wait, I am sporty – way sportier than I give myself credit for and that I’ve been active for my entire adult life.
Growing up an asthmatic, allergic person I had certain beliefs or myths (or habits if you ask author Charles Duhigg of The Power of Habit) about myself that were either wrong, then and now, or I had simply outgrown. These hanging pull-ups forced me to examine the I’m not physically strong, agile, fit or sporty myth that I had about myself.
As someone with lifelong food allergies, asthma and allergies who took medication daily for over 30 years, another self-myth was I’m sick or sickly versus I’m healthy or, gasp, sporty. But the more I recognized those myths over time, and their lack of any connection to reality, I’ve been able to challenge them (see my post about “Yes, and…”), discover my true abilities and create new truths about who this Allergic Girl is now.
Is there a hidden myth about yourself that you’d like to change, alter or redefine?