By Mary Lou Stark
How easily and graciously do you accept compliments? Praise for the work you do and the creations of your heart, mind, and soul?
For years this was hard for me to do. I could see the missed stitch in my knitting. I could hear in my mind the key phrase I left out of my talk. I could see that my loaf of bread was paler than the photo in my favorite cookbook.
While in college I heard a story from a friend that helped a little with this. My friend had been a Boy Scout leader for years and developed a special affinity for the beliefs and customs of Native Americans. He had created his own costumes including an elaborate beaded headdress with eagle feathers.
When I would complain about my knitting errors he reminded me of a belief of the local tribes. They believed that only God could create perfection. In order to avoid angering God they would deliberately make a mistake in their beadwork or stitching.
Part of me wanted to forget this story and continue to blame myself for creating items that were less than perfect. Yet the remnants of that story are still in the back of my mind and poke their heads up when I chastise myself about my needlework.
If only I could apply that lesson consistently to the rest of my life.
It is easy to get caught up in the flow of negative thoughts such as
- I’m not good enough.
- I’m not smart enough.
- I’m not diplomatic enough.
- I’m not wealthy enough.
- I’m just plain not enough.
I’m not sure when I first heard about the concept often referred to as “a self-fulfilling prophecy.” I have come across it many times over the years using different words but with the same underlying belief –
What you expect is what you get.
We frequently don’t recognize how subtly this can affect us. We go along as usual – doing our work, writing our articles. Then someone compliments us on something we wrote or a talk we gave. Frequently we take away from the value of the compliment by saying it was just our interpretation of something an “expert” had written about. In our minds we tear ourselves down even more. Every time we do this it erodes more of our confidence.
How frequently has this happened to you? Are you aware of it when it does happen?
When the phrase “not enough” is floating around it impacts on all we do. Sometimes we aren’t aware of its presence until after the fact. We create a talk or a program trusting that we are including the best of ourselves. We go back later to review it and recognize that we held back. We didn’t share our best self after all.
- We stopped short of saying what we really believe for fear of offending “the gods” – those leaders in our field who hold different beliefs or opinions.
- We stopped short of asking our clients or ourselves to take one more step into the void for fear of falling.
- We stopped short of picking the vibrant colors that spoke to our soul for fear of shocking our family or friends.
It doesn’t matter if we are creating something physical, such as baking a special dessert, or creating something from words, such as writing an article or book, having thoughts of lack in the back of your mind will impact on it all.
How do we reverse the impact of feelings of lack, of not being enough?
Not by just declaring them to be gone. That won’t work.
However, we can begin to lessen the power of those thoughts by introducing new ones. Sometimes just repeating the phrase “I am willing to believe that I am able to ________” will tilt the scale in your favor.
One of my interests is parliamentary procedure (Robert’s Rules of Order). Most motions only require a majority vote to pass. Let’s take a closer look at this. No matter how many people are in the room, the only ones who count are those who actually vote.
And their vote doesn’t have to be unanimous – in fact it rarely will be. It just has to be more than half – 2 out of 3, 21 out of 40, 33 out of 65.
Think of your thoughts the same way. You don’t have to believe 100% that you can do something. You just have to be more than half way there.
Do you remember the children’s story The Little Engine Who Could? A small blue engine had to pull a train full of Christmas toys over a mountain to deliver them on time. All the way across the valley and up over the mountain she said “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” Once she crossed the top she switched to “I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could.”
Find a phrase that works for you such as:
- “I think I can.”
- “I’m enough”
- “I believe I can.”
When you get ready to start a new project, pause, take a deep breath, and then repeat your phrase over and over until you feel confident and ready to begin.
Don’t worry if this burst of belief doesn’t carry you through to the end of the project. Just pause again, and repeat the process.
Remember – What you expect is what you get. Shift your thoughts whenever the ones you have aren’t working for you.
Mary Lou Stark, Book Enchantress, supports people in expressing their message through books, products, and services. She has the ability to focus a clear light on the core points of your message. This lets you reveal those ideas that are dear to your heart in a way that your audience will respond to. At the same time she lovingly encourages you as you work through the fears that spring up along the way. To learn more visit: www.bookenchantress.com