I had this really profound moment with a three-year-old yesterday.
Kids say some pretty awesome stuff – entire TV shows are dedicated to their quips. But sometimes their fresh take on the world and their complete lack of fear slaps you in the face and reminds you to stop being so adult.
I was walking my dog, who I’ll openly call my canine soul-mate, and we strolled past a park. We’ve walked by this same park thousands of times – the ground is covered with old, chopped up tires that create a softer landing when those miniature humans fall on their smiling faces. It’s always bustling with kids splashing in water, figuring out life and making instant, tiny friends.
But this little girl was alone at the top of a jungle gym, away from the activity as I walked by. I would have asked if she needed help finding her mommy if she didn’t look so self-assured and proud. She pointed at me, totally straight faced and without any real inflection, she said, “Hi.”
“Hi,” I responded to this little warrior princess.
“I climbed up here all by myself because I’m a big girl” she said, “and I can climb anything I want.”
Outside the park’s fence, I thought, “that’s cute,” and I kept walking. I took about 10 steps and I realized the weight of what she’d said.
“HOLY SH*T,” I thought. “Yes. You. Can.”
As I launched into the back-half of my day with classes to teach and adults to make sweat, I couldn’t stop thinking about this little girl and how she’d approached a challenge and it made me wonder:
When do adults stop believing that they can climb anything they want?
There comes a point in life when most adults stop believing that they can do anything they set their minds to. Maybe it’s those painful middle school years when all you want in the entire world is to fit in – whether that means finally, f-i-n-n-a-l-l-y experiencing that growth spurt you’ve been waiting for or figuring out what it means to be beautiful. Or maybe it’s experiencing setbacks, disappointment or heartbreak that are a natural part of life once you hit the mean streets of adulthood.
All of this stuff starts to chip away at that child-like wonder that makes you think that your dad is DEFINITELY taller and stronger than all other dads and that you’re capable of anything. That if you set your mind to it, you can move mountains (or just small objects like my childhood hero, Matilda).
I’m not trying to remind you of that painful breakup, the time you didn’t get the promotion or when you realized you’d spent a month of your life on client work that wouldn’t see the light of day.
Here’s the point: you need to stop telling yourself “I can’t.”
I remember having a similar “Holy sh*t” moment in a SoulCycle class with Kellen who said, “If you tell yourself you can’t, you definitely will not.”
That’s a fact.
According to research by Nadika Paranamana at the Missouri University of Science & Technology, “for some people, negative self thoughts and associated adverse effects and negative outcomes may become a vicious cycle from which they cannot break away.”
Translation: When you tell yourself you can’t, you won’t.
In life and in fitness, when you feel yourself not pursuing your goals because you think you’re incapable, you’re can’t-ing yourself to death.
You have to break away from negative self-talk both internally and externally. When you hear yourself say, “I want to, but …” or start to avoid what really makes you tick, stop this behavior in its tracks. Become familiar and aware of these moments. When you feel it happening, stop, acknowledge it and ask yourself, “Why am I avoiding this challenge?”
Is it hard? Is it scary? Is it new? Good. Hard, scary and new lead to growth. Hard, scary and new make you more alive.
Your dreams are important. Your goals are important. The challenges you want to overcome are important. YOU are important.
You can climb anything you want.