As we sat down to dine, I poured our tea and felt a sense of deep gratitude for not only my friend and teacher but also for the glorious spring morning that lay before us. Dharma's lesson was this, "The wise frog understands himself. The foolish frog follows the reports of others." These wise words were so appropriate on this first day of spring. Each day can be a new beginning for us but the Spring Equinox offers us the best opportunity to start fresh.
The gist of Dharma's message was this; if you don't believe in yourself...who else will?
We should believe in ourselves no matter what, but if we're trying to achieve specific goals it becomes even more important. The wise frog understands himself and who he is and what he can do. The foolish frog believes what others tell him about himself. And those "others" might not have his best interest at heart. Even if they do, they might be trying to protect him rather than encouraging him to spread his wings and fly.
Dharma also said that believing in ourselves builds confidence and even inspires us to take action. This doesn't mean that there won't be failures along the way. There will be. But successful people, those who believe in themselves, know that failure is part of the process and is only temporary. Again using the bird analogy, Dharma reminded me that every mama bird knows her baby will struggle and perhaps fall before taking his first successful flight. I asked Dharma if everyone, frog and human alike, was born with confidence and believe in himself...or was it something that only some of us have? After giving my question a bit of thought he answered that, in his opinion, each of us is born to be successful but that, for some of us, certain life events can cause us to lose that innate belief. The good news is that it's not really gone...it's only lost. We can find it again. Dust it off. And breathe new life into it.
Failure, not being perfect, making mistakes, and not having everyone agree with us are all negatives that hamper our ability to make things happen for ourselves. But failure can be a positive IF we choose to learn from it. "The best way to learn something is to study it a bit, then try it, take practice tests, make mistakes, then learn some more." What's that old saying? Practice makes perfect. Only we aren't striving for perfection. We're striving to do the best we can and that, for each of us, will look a little different. it can be difficult to believe that mistakes can be positive but each mistake is a little, but necessary piece of feedback; an invaluable nugget that we learn from. being rejected can feel like the end of the world. When you don't "fold up" from the rejection if means that you're growing and learning; moving beyond the socially acceptable realm. When you think about it, most of the world's greatest leaders were thought of as unacceptable; "Truth-tellers like Socrates, Jesus, Gandhi, Proudhon and Bakunin, Martin Luther King Jr., animal rights philosopher Peter Singer, unschooling pioneer John Holt, women’s rights activists, abolitionists, and many more."
The fact is, learning to grow and believe in ourselves can be unpleasant. It can even be painful. But we can, each of us, get better at it with practice. We can move past our limiting beliefs. Here are Dharma's tip for learning to believe in yourself.
- Push past your discomfort, growing your discomfort method.
- Put yourself out there, and be OK with not knowing if people will accept you.
- Stick to a habit, not listening to the negative self-talk that normally holds you back.
- Stick to it some more, and learn to trust yourself.
- Go into situations not knowing, and learn to be OK with that.
- Learn through repeated attempts that it’s OK to fail, that you can be OK in failure.
- Learn through repeated experiments that you are stronger than you think, that you are more capable and more tolerant of discomfort than you think.
Are you going to be foolish and let someone else tell you that you can't? Or are you going to be wise and know that deep within yourself that you have everything you need to succeed in life? We all have our naysayers. And that's okay. Listen to what they have to say. Take away any gold nuggets that are worthwhile. But the leave the rest of it behind. You don't need their extra baggage. Criticism isn't helpful unless it's constructive; a teaching moment, if you will. "And in this practice, you will find yourself. And realize that you were great all along." Thank's Dharma for this perfect springtime message! We can begin anew today believing in ourselves. After all, what we think about ourselves is really all that matters.
Happy Spring Equinox. Let the party begin!
I hope you'll join me again tomorrow for a celebration of National Common Courtesy Day. Until then, I wish you