Are there any common phrases in your culture that you went along with most of your life until one day you really thought about what it implied, and then you decided you actually disagreed with it?
I’ve had a few of those in recent years, but I think the best example is “Wait until you get older.” This is usually said to me after any time I complain about any random physical pain, for example my knees. I’ll just have run several miles, and say something like, “My knees are a little more sore than normal,” to which someone older than me replies, “Wait until you get older,” implying things are bound to get worse. I’ve also heard this when people find out I have tattoos. They’ll say something like, “Those are beautiful, but wait until you get older,” implying my skin is destined to sag so much I won’t be able to recognize what my tattoos were to begin with.
I’m sure you’ve heard things like this too. There are a lot dealing with aging, but our society has many more. “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it,” is another one I’ve recently thought about. To me this means you better drag your past around with you otherwise all the bad stuff will happen to you again.
Sometimes it not phrases, but cultural understandings. In the Western culture we are supposed to go to college, meet the person of our dreams, graduate and marry that person, find the job we’re going to work for the next 40 years, have our 2.5 kids, retire at 65, and then sit at home and wait to die. If you don’t follow this plan something’s wrong with you. Thankfully, I think this idea is fading more and more with each generation, but it’s still around. I was never pressured by family to follow this path, but because this was the message I got from society, I did think there was something wrong with me because I missed each step after “go to college.”
There are many more phrases and understandings that we get from family, culture, community, faith, and the media. We are bombarded by everyday.
- The only things certain in life are death and taxes.
- You must have this kind of car/house/hair style/clothes/friends/partner/job/income to be complete or whole.
- I have to do X while I am still able.
- I’m too old to do that.
- My doctor says there’s nothing that can be done for this, all we can do is manage it.
One limiting belief after another. What a bummer! And false!
“Unfortunately, most of our fellow cohorts are still “lost in space,” with virtually everything in our society telling us, reminding us and insisting that we are limited, aging “creatures,” living lives between luck and fate in a hard, unforgiving world. The truth, however (and this will likely ring bells in your heart of hearts), is that we are infinite and powerful, fun-loving gladiators of the Universe, with eternity before us and the power of our thoughts to help shape it.
We create our own realities, our own fate, and our own luck. That is how powerful we are, and that is how powerful you are. And to offset all the contradictory thinking of the media and masses, you need to hear this kind of message as often as you hear all the others.”
–Infinite Possibilities: The Art of Living Your Dreams, Mike Dooley
Mike has it right. We are limitless. The only way we are not is when we think we are limited, and unfortunately our society supports us in thinking this.
The good news is you don’t have to play along with society. You can choose to know your power and limitlessness. All it takes is to change your thinking. That is not always as easy as it can be, so set yourself up for success. Find the places, books, programs, friends, music, blogs, shows, art, etc., that will support and reinforce the kind of thinking that will help you claim your power. Place sticky notes around your house, in your car, and at the office to remind you of how amazing you are and how amazing it is to be able to experience the Universe as a human being. And when you hear something that claims we are limited and frail, don’t be afraid to declare your choice to believe differently, if not out loud, at least to yourself.
So the next time someone tells you to “Wait until you’re older,” you can say, “I don’t need to. I already know it just gets better from here!”