On self belief

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One of the things I’ve been thinking about this year is self-belief. I was wondering where I could get my hands on some, because if I ever had any I must have misplaced it. I’ve always done the best I can borrowing other people’s belief in me but that only goes so far and I came to the conclusion that it was another one of those things that you really have to do for yourself.

So at some point in January I did the modern thing and Googled “where can I get some self belief.” I did not find much that I considered helpful. Dressing better is not the solution for me, nor is walking faster and I have to say I can’t manage mantras. I have tried, but I usually disagree with the mantra and so refuse to repeat it.

It goes something like this.

In every day and in every day I am getting better and better. In every day and in every way … like nuts I am! I’m coming down with a cold and I’ll spend the next few days getting worse. How is that relevant to my journey? Try again.

In some ways I am getting worse but in others I’m possibly getting better, with a small setback before lunch and then improving slowly after. In other things I am remaining the much the same which may or may not be a good thing. All that is guaranteed is that there will probably be some change, in some ways, most days, assuming things progress as expected.

Hmm. That seems to have turned into a weather forecast. Maybe I’d better try a new affirmation.

I love myself exactly as I am. I love myself exactly as I am. I … No. I don’t. That’s simply not true. If I was totally happy “exactly as I am” I wouldn’t be doing this work on myself and using affirmations in the first place. What a load of rubbish. Surely anyone who’s trying to use these mantras is doing it for the same reason; that they don’t want to be exactly as they are? That’s it. I’m not doing any more affirmations.

Actually it seems I’m not the only one who finds this stuff irrelevant. According to Canadian research, discussed here on the BBC news website, if you have low self-esteem, repeating positive statements is bad for your happiness. I have to say that makes perfect sense to me – I cannot see how repeating things you don’t believe is supposed to help anyone.

I’ve wandered off my point, which was that I didn’t find anything particularly useful or new to me by interrogating the internet in search for some self belief. I felt that if I had some self belief already and was just wanting to polish it up a bit then some of the websites would be useful, but as I didn’t, they weren’t. I have had similar problems on my quest to learn relaxation and my quest to learn to cope with change.*

So I set my quest for self belief onto a back-burner. Weeks passed, as weeks do, and I thought about other things, blogged about other things. And slowly I came to this conclusion:

Self belief happens while you’re doing other things.  It doesn’t like to be fussed over or forced, you can’t buy the seeds and plant it, it but it will self-sow on its own. You won’t notice the first shoots, but once your mind is free enough of weeds, it will grow slowly in the spaces you have made for it. You don’t need the positive mantras but if you are (consciously or subconsciously) using any negative ones they’ll stunt it, so get rid of them and just wait for the seasons to pass. When you need your self belief some will be ready for harvest. If life means you have to take a lot at once it may take time to replenish, but as long as you give it space in your garden, it will quietly grow.

Image: Sujin Jetkasettakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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*Of particular note was the Change-management workshop my employer sent me on. The afternoon session was being billed as techniques for coping with change, but it turned out there was actually only one technique offered: think of a time you coped well with change and repeat what you did then. What??! I’m on this course precisely because I don’t cope well with change and have never coped well, and don’t know how to cope well in the future! How is this supposed to help me?! Useless.

Why my 30s are going to be great

A few months ago an acquaintance, a father in his mid/late 30s, was sighing over his age and reflecting that the best part of his life was behind him. When he was younger he believed that he could do anything, be anything, but now he feels his potential is gone and his dreams are restricted by his age. This could not be further from the way I feel.

Until the last few years I have lived my life believing I could not do much, could not achieve much. Now the world is opening up to me. I want riding lessons? I’ve got them and I’m riding. I want to buy something big? I can save and buy it. I want to go somewhere? I can drive there or buy a plane ticket. There’s plenty of stuff I don’t want to do, but I do pretty much believe I can do or get anything I want. I guess this is helped by not wanting the moon, but I believe that most people can achieve most things most of the time.

If you want to prioritise a goal, I think you can usually make it happen, although you need to beware of the cost. All things have a cost, be it money, time, emotion, stress or all of the above. The bigger the thing you’re trying to do, the higher the cost you’ll have to pay. And some costs will be too high. There’s only so much energy you can put into something without compromising your health and happiness; only so much money you can put in without compromising your home and necessities like food and warmth.

Costs aside, I feel that for the first time in my life I could do anything I set my mind to. I don’t particularly want to run a marathon, learn Chinese or relocate, but I know if I made the decision and put the effort in I could do any of those things. Maybe I couldn’t be an olympic athlete or an astronaut, but that’s no hardship because I never wanted anything like that – the costs of those goals would always have been too high for me.

So I’m living my dreams at the moment; riding and writing, walking and working, living and laughing. Maybe my dreams are small potatoes to others, but they’re big enough for me. And if tomorrow I dream a bigger dream? Well I think I can make that work too.

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net