(My November article for HaveHeart Magazine November 2014)
(What if these successful people had doubted their abilities: Cesar Chavez didn’t make it past 8th grade, Thomas Edison quit school at 12 years old, Matt Mullenweg(the founder of WordPress) dropped out of college, Walt Disney dropped out of high school, and Rush Limbaugh flunked ballroom dancing in addition to dropping out of college.)
Let me be clear in stating that I am not advocating dropping out of school. I believe in education and the doors a college degree opens for a person, but these examples did challenge my thinking. What if these successful people had harped on their shortcomings and allowed themselves to be held back from what they knew they were called to do? Would I want to stay in school if I believed in myself enough to do something great? I began to wonder how much of what we don’t do, is because of our own self-imposed limitations. The failure to think for ourselves just may be the missing link we need to penetrate the surface of those springs of doubt that cause immobility; bringing our dreams into view. Personally, in my own life, I see that I need to find my way back to a version of myself that was braver than I am now. I used to carve my own pathways with zeal, not fear? Where has that part of me gone? When did self-doubt creep into my mind and become an option? Am I wearing rose-colored glasses while comparing myself to more accomplished friends, the women I see on television, and the photo shopped models staged in magazines, only to take off those shades at home and wonder why my
life doesn’t look as rosy?
Maybe, but I’m working on it.
I started to evaluate the messages I’ve absorbed that have created self-doubt in a grown woman and then my thoughts turned toward the young girls growing up in this era. I can see their cause for rebellion, “nothing but mixed messages going on out here” is what I would be thinking. If we look at the examples of womanhood on reality shows, it’s a wonder there are still young women that choose to leave the house without makeup and find reading a worthwhile pastime. What would I be thinking if I were a teenage girl and my mother and the female celebrities I looked up to told me, “I was valuable, pretty, and should confidently accept my imperfections,” only to have botulism religiously injected into their own faces every three months?
Would I really believe them?
Then I addressed my own mixed messages and wondered if I had forgotten to protect myself over the years. How many of us would never let a person skate by that was disrespectful or spoke rudely to us in a social setting? Would you instantly intervene on behalf of your friend or sibling if they were being ignored or mistreated? Would you move to protect a woman on the street that was being verbally abused in front of you? Most of us would say, “Yes, of course,” but when was the last time you truly intervened on your own behalf? When I asked myself that question, I sadly couldn’t remember. I’ve used self-talk that I would never allow a person to direct toward a friend, a stranger, or myself! Are you tolerating negative thoughts in your life that you would never subject somebody you cared for to? Why is it acceptable for you to settle and believe in defeat as an option, but not your daughter, son, friend, co-worker, spouse, etc.? Making the correlation between my own self-defeating thoughts and the consequence of immobilizing fear has been very uncomfortable, but also surprisingly empowering. Sure, there have been some rough moments. I wouldn’t mind subjecting a few deep creases in my psyche to a little Botox in an attempt to smooth things over in my mind, but I believe flaws in our thinking, like wrinkles, can be beautiful on a person that won the war and kept smiling.
It’s hard to admit that we may be our own verbally abusive bully or responsible for casting the most doubt on what it is we hope to achieve. It would be easier to avoid this conversation and say, “I’m over thinking this,” but I long to be the braver version of myself and the first step is to come out of the dark and face my demons, even if my sword is trembling in the air. I need to stand up to my mind and not allow defeating thoughts to pervade moments of joy. Can you relax without guilt? Often my own self imposed moments of relaxation have sounded like this: I really should have walked my dog and cleaned the garage before I indulged in this book—If I could just get it together and function on less sleep, I could dress better for meetings—I shouldn’t have taken this vacation, I have too much to do and not enough in savings. And my least favorite, that goal is too big Tina— you really think you can accomplish that?
As painful as it is to admit, the past few years I have been my own worst enemy. Talking about change and realizing an area of weakness is one thing, but nothing happens until a person moves toward the desired outcome. How can I tuck myself into a crate for safety like a puppy and expect to ever make my mark on the world? Doubt and self-defeating thoughts keep you protected from challenges and I have to revive the fearlessness I’ve known. That means leaving my comfort zone in order to make things happen. Am I nervous and scared? Hell yes, but stagnancy is the alternative. I don’t want to live a life dreaming and hoping for the things I want and need; it’s up to me to make my “mark” so to speak and push through the fear. Some of my goals are far-fetched and a bit wild, but that’s where fearless abandon comes into play and my animal instincts are still intact! I intend to step out of the puppy kennel of self-doubt, chase some Frisbees, and target as many hydrants as I can along the way.
(If we should meet along my journey—please feel free to throw me a Frisbee!)
When was the last time you really challenged your spirit and felt alive with inspiration? If you answered, “Yesterday, when I logged onto my Pinterest board,” it might be time to try something new! Do you have a dream job? A fitness goal? A destination vacation? Have you pursued job listings, called a gym, booked the vacation spot or only looked them up on Google over a cup of coffee? Let’s ask ourselves how we really want to spend 2015 before New Year’s Eve arrives, silence our inner critic along with any doubtful thoughts and start making things happen! What are you telling yourself every day? I was telling myself that my dreams were next to impossible, that was before I decided to stop limiting myself and circling the building. I intend to treat myself better—I’m walking inside from now on, moving toward the direction of my dreams and I hope you will too! To those of you that can relate to my experience I want to say, “I believe in you, I think you are capable, I’m excited for you, and I know you can do it!” And just like I believe these things for my friends at HaveHeart, after some candid introspection I can also say, “I believe them for myself.”