My father had a poultry farm once upon a time.
I was a ten year old kid. You can imagine what a source of intense delight such a mass of hens would be to a child. True enough, I was absolutely enthralled by the ‘birds’. There was nothing I wanted to do more than sitting inside the pens and watching them by the hour. There was a time when I would laugh at their antics… other times I would be perplexed. And there were times I had to rush over and stop them from harming themselves… for they WERE dumb creatures.
Their fights with each other were most amusing. One chick (a round ball of bright yellow fur- like a blob of sunshine) would be standing on a brick where there is a bit of sunshine. Its neck would be drawn in and once it was all warmed up, it would doze off. Another chick would come by, cock its head on one side and study the snoozing one meditatively. For no rhyme or reason, the studious one would give a shove to the snoozer. The snoozer would fall off his perch and glare around. The pusher would stand and stare defiantly back. Sometimes, if the snoozer was easy going… it would walk away and look for another sunny spot. Otherwise there would be an altercation. Either way, the victor would get the coveted snooze spot, unless someone had already grabbed it by then; in which case the whole thing would begin over again.
I would be holding my aching sides, giddy with laughter.
I imagine God sitting and looking at us just as I sat looking at those chicks. There is a difference though. God never rushes in to protect us from our own convoluted thought processes. It must be so frustrating for him. I mean, look at it this way. If you saw someone making a fathead of themselves, wouldn’t you want to cuff them on the side of their head and tell them to bloody stop it…? I can see you nodding. Go easy on the nodding though, or your head might roll off your shoulders and that won’t be pleasant at all. Trust me, I know what I am talking about. 🙁
But I digress… my cardinal sin of course.
God, poor thing, can’t deliver cuffs. All he can do is to mutter darkly under his breath and make a hoary old tree grow in our path- twisted branches and roots sticking out all over- and wait for us to get entangled in them and fall flat on our face. Only then would he be able to rub his hands together with gleeful satisfaction.
Imagine his chagrin when he sees us picking ourselves off the ground and then be a fathead (in the same way, mind you) all over again. And again. And again.
God, I feel tired already..!
I wonder why we make the same mistakes over and over. I wonder why we let go of the prize just when we are a step away from victory. I wonder why we scare ourselves by manufacturing fake scenarios. I wonder why we look for validation from others. I wonder why we don’t recognize our own power.
We are fear driven, aren’t we…? Fear of losing out, of not being good enough, of being powerless; there are so many flavors. We are not in touch with the core of our being. All our power resides there, untapped and unused. Instead of taking steps to unlock that power, we operate from a shallow, surface level where we are at the mercy of any stray influence that comes blowing our way. We get swayed… disoriented… blinded… and lost.
If we learned to unleash and harness our inner strength, we wouldn’t be so buffeted. A casual shove would not unseat us from our spot in the sun. We would not be forced to altercate with the winds of change all the time. We’d not be set adrift in search for yet another sunny spot every time we got comfortable.
To unlock the unused potential within us, we must clear away the debris of self-sabotaging thoughts and beliefs. Perhaps you have some ideas on how we can do that. If so, please write them down in the comments section before you click off. Meanwhile, here are my thoughts:
Fit Right: We have an upside-down view about the world and our place in it. Most of us think we need to find our place in the world and then spend the rest of our lives reshaping ourselves so we fit into that place. Hence, we try to please people. Our days become a saga of their vision of what our life should be. It is so difficult to resist their hold, for they are close to us. As JK Rowling said, “It takes more strength to stand up to your friends than to fight your enemies.”
Alternative thought #1: Fit the world into you; not yourself into the world.
(The world is too vast and we cannot fit it into us you say..? I say we can. All we need to do is to select only those things which help us be congruent with our vision for our life. Such a world would be a perfect fit for us. It will be all we would need to become what we wanted to become.)
Be Fair to Yourself: It is fine to admire other people’s talents. But to measure yourself against someone else, comparing their best with your second (or third) best, is hardly fair. Everyone has unique talents and strengths. Someone might say, “Oh..! You are so great at sketching. I am lousy at it.” Off they go, beating themselves for being bad at sketching. They’d ignore the fact that they sing like a nightingale and the sketcher cannot emit anything but the most discordant croak.
Alternative thought #2: Be your own benchmark and competitor.
(The concept of measuring myself against someone else annoys me. One should be one’s own benchmark (I admit it; I am a rabid egoist). Moreover, this is the only way I can make sure that I pit a tiger against a tiger, not a tiger against a snake.)
Forgive the Past: If you are anything like me, berating yourself for your past mistakes has been your favorite pass time for years..! I am sure you’ve also made a neat little package of your mistakes and hung them around your neck so that they can help you drown. I am also sure whenever you are about to begin something new, or are about to take a leap of faith, or are two steps away from victory, you open your neat little package and proceed to remind yourself why you will lose again this time. You see it was because you goofed up 20 years ago. How do I know all this…? Never mind how I know, we’re talking of you here, not me..!! The cheek..!!!!
Alternative thought #3: Your past is your past; it is not your future.
(Does it make sense for someone to stop eating ice-creams because when they were a greedy three yr old, they over-indulged and threw up all over their party frock..? If that isn’t fatheaded, I’d like you to define fatheaded for me please. You didn’t click away in disgust did you..? You are still here, tearing your hair out (I hope), reading on wondering how you can send me a couple of sticks of RDX in my mail, yeah…?)
Shift Paradigms: There are times when we lose our battle even before it begins. We convince ourselves that our challenges are permanent (no matter what you do, they will stay), pervasive (they affect every area of your life hence if you missed your flight, you are a TOTAL failure) and personal (the challenge is a personality defect in you, not an opportunity to change and grow). How inspired can you feel by beating yourself up with all the three beliefs together…?
Alternative thought #4: It is limiting beliefs that hold you back; not your lack of ability, talent or opportunity.
(Of all the way in which you are sabotage yourself, the learned helplessness of these limiting beliefs is the most damaging. Climb a mountain or crawl under the ocean. Change your vantage point. Throw away the defective glasses through which you view the world, shift your paradigms and get a new belief system.)
Champion Yourself: We know how to support and appreciate other people. We can be so loud in our praise of them that we could tempt tigers to take diction lessons from us. But when it comes to being our own champion, a mouse would give up on us in disgust. We constantly underrate ourselves. Our most patient buddy wouldn’t tolerate us, we’re so rude. The dedication with which we beat ourselves, one would think we were going to be awarded for it…!
Alternative thought #5: It is YOUR job to validate yourself; not look to others for validation.
(It is something similar to what they say about bankers. If you show them you don’t need money, they will fall over themselves trying to dump some on you. But if they get a whiff of your need, they go into an instant personification of (ill-tempered) stuffed frogs. Similarly, when you are self-validated, can serenely look people in the eye and declare that you are a GOOD person and deserve life’s choicest blessings, will people agree with you emphatically and thus validate you.)
A story is told of the early days of the automobile revolution. There was an old man, very set in his ways. The only departure from his traditional and conformist thinking was his passion for the automobile. He was dissuaded by friends and family from buying one because it was a ‘new fangled contraption’. He could not resist it for long though and one day went and bought it. The first time he took his new carriage out, he was proud as a peacock. He lazily waved to the people who saw him riding past, their jaws falling. He exchanged pleasantries with important citizens.
One rude young fellow jumped up on the runner of the automobile and shouted in his ear, “Why have you hitched a horse to your car…? Why don’t you turn the key and switch on the ignition…? Don’t you know you have the power of many horses under your hood…?
It exasperates me when I see people sitting on the power they have under their hood, plodding on with a half dead horse hitched to their life wagon.
It is time they turn the key in the ignition and fired that engine…!