Are They Really True?
“A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to the child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming.”
― Madeleine L’Engle
Growing up in Indiana, basketball was a way of life. I used to play in the dead of winter with snow on the ground, in the middle of summer when the temperatures were in the high 90’s with 95% humidity, and every scenario in between. It was something I loved whether I was playing solo or at a pickup game at the local pool. While I’m sure my parents grew tired of the constant pounding of the ball on the concrete, it was music to my ears.
I watched basketball on television constantly and it didn’t matter if it was the NBA or college. If it was on, I was watching it. I lived and breathed basketball.
I was lucky enough to play organized sports growing up including basketball, football, and baseball. And while I loved the other sports, basketball was what I wanted to pursue most. Even though I wasn’t blowing up the height charts, I could hold my own on the court. I had always made the “A” team when trying out for the various sports and was a regular starter.
So when my 8th-grade year rolled around and it was time to try out for the basketball team, I did. The only problem was I had chipped a bone in my foot several weeks prior and was wearing a cast. But I tried out anyway. I did all the drills, ran up and down the court, and tried to keep up with all the other players who weren’t wearing casts. And I thought I did pretty damn good despite the cast.
But the coaches thought otherwise — and they cut me.
I remember that day like it was yesterday. Basketball was everything at the time and finding out I would not play on an organized team was soul-crushing. It devastated me. I remember getting into the car with my mom and losing it. I cried and cried because I thought my world had been shattered. And that moment stuck with me for a long time.
Because the next year, I didn’t try out. I still loved basketball and I played it all the time like I had all the previous years but I had made the decision about myself that I wasn’t good enough to make the team anymore — even without a cast. So I never tried out for any organized basketball team again. I had let the decision I made about myself to become my truth even if it wasn’t true. But I would never find out.
It became a self-fulfilling prophecy, not only in basketball but in life. All my life, I decided I was all kinds of things. Most of them were negative. I was worthless, ugly, weak or I couldn’t achieve what I wanted to. I made decisions about myself which kept me from a life I needed, from a life I wanted. I felt I lacked so much in everything, I let it rule me. Like not trying out for the basketball team, these decisions I made about myself kept me from not trying in life and kept me from taking chances.
I became good at rationalizing these decisions too. When you tell yourself something all the time, it becomes much easier to believe whatever it is — and it also becomes your truth.
“We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert
We all do this. We make decisions about ourselves and we allow them to hold us back from what we really want. A lot of these decisions come from fear. We are scared we will fail, and it’s easier to decide we aren’t good enough than to try something which we may fail at. There’s less embarrassment if we can justify our decisions about why we can’t achieve what it is we want to achieve. These decisions we make about ourselves become our excuses and then become our way of life. It becomes a habit of learned helplessness and we stop trying altogether.
The decision I made about myself was my truth for a long time. I’d been telling myself these things for decades, and changing something which you’ve been beating into your brain doesn’t happen overnight. It’s taken a lot of work, a lot of self-reflection, and a lot of pain, but my beliefs about myself are slowly changing.
That’s because I decided all the things I thought about myself weren’t true—and all the decisions I made about myself could be changed. I learned I let my negativity and fear lead the way in everything I did. It kept me from pursuing what I wanted and from actually living life instead of merely existing.
So now I decided I’m worthy and that I can achieve whatever I put my mind and effort into. I decided not to let others make decisions about me that weren’t true either. Other people don’t hold my truth, it is up to me and only me. And someone else can’t take away that truth.
But the most important thing which has helped me define these new decisions and truths about myself, and the most important thing I want you to learn also is:
To change the decisions we have made about ourselves, we must accept there are things which cannot be changed — but we have the power to change the things which are unacceptable.
I finally understand now I can’t change certain things about myself, and that realization has brought freedom and confidence like nothing else. I’ve accepted the things about myself which cannot be changed. I’m me, and I don’t want to be anyone else. But there were also aspects of my life which were unacceptable — the negativity, the isolation, the drinking, and the toxicity I displayed to myself every day. I could change all that, and I did. So now I have made new decisions about myself and they are my truth.
You can change those decisions about yourself as I have. It’s difficult and it takes time but you don’t have to believe everything you tell yourself. It doesn’t have to be your truth. You can make new decisions and new truths — starting today.
So I want you to ask yourself — what decisions have you made about yourself? And are they really true?