I was eight years old and practicing high jump on the school oval. My primary school was home to 54 students, and we were all (both the younger and older kids) practicing for the upcoming sports day.
It was fun. We stood with nervous excitement as we waited for our next jump. We clapped the ones who made it, and we said try again to the ones who didnít. We encouraged the best jumper in the school as they set the bar higher for his second attempt.
We were lined up in two lines; one on the left and one on the right. Teachers were stationed on each side of the bar to adjust the bar height depending on who was jumping. Each time a jumper was clear of the bar and the height had been adjusted; another teacher called for the next jumper to go.
There was no real system to it. One jumper would go, and then the next one would go. The only thing was that sometimes it took a bit of time to readjust the bar after a jump, and the next jumper would have to wait a few extra seconds before their turn. Many of the kids were starting to get impatient. Everyone wanted to fit in one more turn before going back to the classroom.
It was my go. I was attempting to make a jump that I had missed on the previous turn. I was only eight years old, but I remember thinking to myself "Run fast. Iím going to get over the bar."
I ran towards the bar and launched myself over the best I could, but the bar came clattering down. I didn't make the jump. I picked myself up off the mats and started to walk back to the line in case there was time for another go. It was then that I heard the angry words been shouted at me, in front of everyone.
"If you canít make it, donít even try.Ē
I looked over to see one of the older boys standing arms folded glaring at me. My heart froze. I didnít know what to say. Before any of the teachers intervened, one of the older girls shouted at the boy saying that wasnít very nice, and that he should apologise. Instead he erupted in an angry rant about how I had already attempted the jump; hadnít made it, and now I was holding up everyone else.
I walked off the oval. I then cried and cried. I still remember the hot pain of humiliation burning in my heart. I donít remember much else about the rest of the afternoon, but those words pierced a deep wound in my eight year old heart. I donít know why those words stuck with me, and why I didnít just brush them off like kids brush off so many other things. Maybe it was because of the intense feeling of humiliation of been ridiculed in front of everyone.
My confidence was shattered. I never attempted high jump again. Those words became a mantra for my life. If I felt I couldnít do something or doubted my ability, I wouldnít even try. I was paralysed by fear and too scared to attempt the most basic sporting tasks.
Why did I let one personís perception become a reality that I lived my life by? Iím sure there were people who reassured me after the incident that it didnít matter, and that I could try again. Yet for some reason, those words stuck deep in my heart and were a stumbling block for any time I wanted to try a sporting event. I let one personís view become my entire reality. I honestly believed that if I couldnít do something, I shouldnít even try.
It took a lot of work, but those words arenít stuck in my heart anymore.
I recognise how flawed those words were. While I canít go back and undo the incident or get back the sporting opportunities I refused to take out of fear; I now tell myself every day that it is okay to try, because trying is how you make it. This year one of the things I am going to try is high jump. Even if I donít make the jump, at least I will have tried it, and it will be proof that those words are no longer my reality.
Has someone ever spoken words over you that arenít true?
Have those words become your reality?
Are those words stopping you from moving forward?
If the answer is yes, recognise that:
Words only have power because of the meaning we attach to them. If someone spoke negatively or insulted you - change the meaning you attach to the words.
Someone elseís perception is not your reality. You create your reality. Use your own positive perceptions to create your reality.
By doing this you can be free of the power of someone elseís words. It is you that creates the reality. By using the points listed above, you can choose to be free of negative words and perceptions.
Make the decision today that someone elseís negative perception and/or words will not be your reality, and will not have power in your life.