I have been taking a course in Chinese brush painting and yesterday I went with two of my classmates to a store selling beautiful Chinese books on brush painting. There were books with bamboo, peonies and cherry blossoms, but many of them also showed birds, tigers, butterflies or other animals.
“I can’t paint birds”, I said.
“I didn’t think so either”, said Lisa, “but once I had tried I realized it wasn’t that difficult”.
Since Lisa is a very talented painter I didn’t think that that would go for me, and therefore I only bought books on how to paint bamboo and flowers. When I came home and looked through my books I saw that in one of the books there were instructions on how to paint a bird. And then I realized that I had done such big mistake! I work as a professional coach and here I had kept on telling myself that I couldn’t do something I hadn’t even tried to do!
Perhaps I tried to paint some animals or people 20 years ago, but even then I didn’t give it much training. I have all the equipment I need to paint and no physical limitations, like bad sight or difficulties holding the brush. So it’s all about my mind. I tell myself that I can’t do it and then I don’t have to try, because I already know the result of such an action. What a good excuse! Excuse for what? What would be the worst thing that could happen? If I stop for a second and think about it. The worst that could happen must be that I would paint a really ugly bird.
When I write it down, even I can see how unimportant and small that is! But I know that there is always a reason behind all our behaviors, so what is mine? It’s a much bigger one. It’s the fear, not to be good enough. Yes, there it is again; “The good girl” within trying to control the mature, balanced woman I try to be. Do you have that same “good girl” whispering in your ear every now and then too? She is so discrete I hardly notice that she’s there most of the time …
There are so many believes and “laws” that I follow, that aren’t true at all, but I have been carrying them for so long, never questioning them, that they have become truths. I know you have them too. What are yours?
I’m not good enough for this job (and soon someone will notice).
I can’t cook.
I can’t drive in this terrible traffic.
I don’t understand math.
I’m too fat.
Life isn’t easy.
You can’t have it all.
So I stare at that good girl in the mirror and tell her loudly: “I can’t paint birds – yet!”