That’s Men: What could you be if there were no limits?

Don't make assumptions about what you are capable of without trying first

Don't make assumptions about what you are capable of without trying first

 

I don’t know if Kerry star and fashion blogger Paul Galvin, football legend and coach Roy Keane and opera singer Celine Byrne have ever met. They have one important thing in common though: they exemplify the fact that self-limiting ideas (“I couldn’t do this, I couldn’t be that”) can be startlingly misleading.

If, 10 years ago, you were to list the interests of a Kerry footballing legend and a very tough guy on the field, you wouldn’t include an obsession with fashion.

Similarly you would most certainly not assume that a fashionista (the internet says the word applies to both genders) who blogs about clothes on his remarkably elegant website (thisispaulgalvin.com) might also play football and win All-Ireland medals for Kerry.

Yet Paul Galvin combines both and is full-on both as a footballer and as a clotheshorse.

Roy Keane, it seems fair to say, is an introvert. We know very little about his private life. If you had an eight- or nine- year-old Roy Keane in the family you might well say, “He’s mad about football but he’s a very shy lad – I really don’t think he could survive in that scene.” And when he went on to become one of the world’s top players, and a very tough one too (pity we never saw Keane and Galvin clash in a Munster Final but that’s another story), it would be very natural to assume that he must be an extraverted, life and soul of the party type of guy. But Keane, like Galvin, demonstrated that you just cannot make assumptions about what people can be or do in a lifetime.

Celine Byrne, from my home parish of Caragh in Co Kildare, was a post-Leaving Cert au pair when she went to her first opera at La Scala in Milan. Then she went home, got married, had a baby and went to DIT to study singing.

Wouldn’t 99 people out of 100 in her situation have said, “I didn’t discover opera until after my Leaving Cert, and I’m married and a mother so there is no chance now of me becoming an opera singer”?

Yet she has won prestigious international singing prizes and she tours all over the world. Indeed in 2012, the young woman who didn’t see an opera until after her Leaving Cert won tumultuous applause at Covent Garden when she stepped in to finish a performance for lead soprano Camilla Nylund who had become ill during the show.

At the same time, so far as I can see though we have never spoken, she is very involved in her local community and in her family which is something you don’t expect from a globe-trotting opera singer.


Inspiring examples
These three, I think, are inspiring examples of how limitations are so often in the mind and how people can do extraordinarily different things in their lives if they don’t see the limitations.

Of course certain conditions have to be fulfilled. Galvin and Keane had to have their extraordinary footballing talent and they had to have the determination and capacity for work that got them to the top of their sports.

Galvin had to have an eye for fashion and had to become immersed in his passion. Byrne had to have the voice and had to do the training and enter the competitions.

But how many Galvins, Keanes and Byrnes are out there who are never going to amaze themselves or us with what they can do because they tell themselves that it just isn’t for them?

And by the way this isn’t about amazing other people. It’s about allowing the possibility to enter your mind that some lives can take remarkable and delightful twists and turns and that your life could be one of those.

Perhaps the first step to finding out what you can do is to ask yourself if that self-limiting voice in your head – the one that says, “I couldn’t do that, it’s just not me” – might have got it wrong?


pomorain@yahoo.com


Padraig O’Morain is a counsellor accredited by the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. His book, Light Mind - Mindfulness for Daily Living, is published by Veritas.

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