The lies we tell ourselves

Being

I’m a procrastinator.

I’m not a morning person.

I’m an emotional eater.

I’m not creative.

I’m _________

I spent my life wearing a lot of internal labels — some that I’d laughingly admit to out loud, some that I kept locked away, dreading the day someone would call me out on it.

I had a different relationship with each of them.

For instance, I was at peace with not being a morning person. It didn’t bother me. Especially in the earlier part of my professional life when my job in theatre meant that being a night owl was an advantage.

Procrastination? I wrestled with it, trying to understand it, figuring out how I could fix it, but mostly carrying the label with a sense of shame & failure.

Emotional eating (and my apparent struggle with weight) felt like a curse, passed on through the generations.

It felt impossible to deal with, so instead I tried to override it by hiring personal trainers & following strict meal plans. Surprise, surprise — nothing stuck.

My lack of creativity made me sad.

I desperately wished I could be the kind of person who could sit down and write a song that would move people… or express my feelings through acrylics on a blank canvas.

white and black abstract painting
Photo by Luca Nicoletti on Unsplash

This is – obviously – not an exhaustive list, but you get the idea, right?

Now right up until my late twenties, I’d thought these labels were actually part of my identity — permanently imprinted in my DNA or something. But thankfully, it was when I noticed one of them starting to peel off, like an old sticker, that I began to question their validity… slowly. No overnight wakeup calls in this story, I’m afraid!

That first peeling sticker? “I’m not a morning person”

See, when I moved back to Australia from Canada in 2020, I kept working with my Canadian & US based clients — but I was on a completely different time zone.

In order to get a little bit of overlap with their working hours, I needed to start my day at 8am. Something that past me might have baulked at, but I soon realized was a piece of cake.

I know, I know — to some, 8am might sound like nothing, but to someone who used to stay up until 2am reading, studying, creating… it was major.

But it didn’t end there.

Last year I was starting to freak out about the lack of physical activity I was doing.

One of the positive label I used to identify with (“I’m a fit person”) was well and truly gone, and I wondered if I’d ever get it back now my lifestyle was so different. (Performing in musicals 8 times a week with most days free to go to the gym vs sitting at my computer for 8-12, yes, twelve, hours as an entrepreneur was a bit of a change!)

Talking with a coach at the time, trying to make a plan to reintroduce regular workouts, I looked at my calendar and struggled to see how it would work.

I no longer enjoyed evening workouts, plus that was when I was finding I was most in flow for doing deep work, and without even thinking, said “Well I can’t do them before work — I start at 8am!” and decided it’d have to be mid-morning… somehow.

Spoiler alert: those mid morning workouts never happened. I had zero interest in cutting into my work day once I’d already begun.

But desperate to make a change, I – on a whim? I honestly don’t remember this conversation! – agreed to try getting up at 5am with my now fiancée so we could train from 6:15 – 7:15am, giving me 30 minutes to get ready for my first call.

Within a few weeks of 3 x weekly 5am wake ups, we decided to make it our usual wake up time for all weekdays. Not to increase how many gym workouts we were doing, but because we were loving how much extra day we had.

It hit me one morning as I was slipping into my gym clothes that this felt normal.

Wait, WHAT?

But I’m… I wasn’t… hang on, this can’t be right… are you telling me…??

Yeah, so it turns out that after 35 years of believing I wasn’t “that” person, I was. I mean, I could be — if I chose to be.

Cue further crumbling.

I’m now almost 13 months into my workout routine and it’s simply a way of life.

Turns out the emotional eating thing had fallen away before then too (a story for another day), meaning between the consistency of my training as well as my eating – not to mention the amount of attention I was giving my overall health & wellbeing – my body changed shape in a way I’d never thought possible.

More labels, gone.

Now things are snowballing, and I’m looking at every single self-judgement I’d been making and wondering where it came from, whether it was BS and if so, letting it go.

Some were laughable.

This creativity thing?

Apparently I grew up with the notion that creative people were people who created art from scratch. Poets, song lyricists, composers, painters, illustrators. That’s it.

I started noticing that people complimented my creativity often. Realizing that I’d been called creative a lot throughout my life… but I’d immediately deflect those compliments because I felt like a fraud. After all, I would write a song.

Oops. Another illusion, shattered.

Oh and the procrastination thing. It’ll get its own post at some point too, but turns out I’d been living with ADHD my whole life. So that explained a lot!

I’ll wrap this up with a couple of nuggets I want you to chew on:

1) Every belief we have about ourselves started somewhere. If any of yours are bringing you shame, it’s time to question them & begin peeling off those labels.

2) Beware using the words “I am” at the beginning of any sentence that doesn’t end with “love” or “loved”.

Your behaviours are not your identity. Your personality traits are not your identity.

You are simply you. Your essence, your soul, your energy – whatever you want to call it – is perfect. All of the stuff that you don’t like about yourself is the result of either: warped perception (not your fault), a deeper wound (also not your fault) or trained behaviour (often not your fault to begin with — but too nuanced to dive into for now).

And you now have a choice to make which brings me to…

3) You can change. Don’t believe anyone who says you can’t.

But as you can probably see from point 2, you don’t necessarily need to. Instead, I see that you have 3* possible courses of action to take with each of these labels you find:

→ Remove it completely through identifying the lie that led to you creating it (like my subjective view of creativity)

→ Make peace with this part of yourself & learn to love it so you can give it another name (better understanding ADHD helped me understand that it comes with its own superpowers if I just learn to harness them)

→ Or if it’s behavioural, change your behaviour! Create some pattern disrupt, run an experiment, test the validity of this label and see if it’s actually just a limitation created by your mind — just like my morning person story

*With an important caveat:

You may go through this process and realize this label (and the story that created it) goes way deeper, into trauma territory, in which case, seek the help of a professional. I certainly have at various points in my life and it’s thanks to understanding how to process some of this deeper stuff that I can now “self-coach” my way through a lot of what’s come up since.

Whatever you do, please try to have some self-compassion. Life is really bloody hard sometimes (a lot of the time) and most of us are already set up to struggle when these labels are stuck on us from when we’re too young to even reach something on the kitchen counter.

In fact, I have a photo of little Kat on my desk for that reason. Because when I look at her, I’m reminded just how innocent & fragile I was when I was brought into this world. …Then I get all protective of her and feel guilty for all the mean things I’ve said to myself in the past. Might sound weird, but don’t knock it ‘til you try it 😉

Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this, let me know!

– Kat x

with love,
Kat Elizabeth

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