People often ask me about how to increase self-confidence so they can try new things. They imagine confidence to be a magically acquired inner quality, and that successful people are naturally fearless, willing to try new experiences, managing to look cool in the process. The real path to self-confidence is to develop COMPETENCE with practice, trial and error. To dare to follow your dreams requires the willingness to look foolish, to risk failure and rejection. Our mistakes are requirements for wisdom and true confidence. Of course, His Holiness manages to say this with much more elegance and simplicity.
Archive for the ‘Spiritual’ Category
Posted in Advice, Buddhism, Dear Cynthia queries, kindness, Personal insight, Spiritual, Uncategorized, tagged Buddhism, confidence, courage, Dalai Lama, friendship, honesty, self-esteem, trust on April 30, 2012| 1 Comment »
Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here. As stated by Marianne Williamson
This fits, I think, when trying to cope with my own fears of rejection. When I place my guilt/shame/anxiety in a crucible, and cook out all the what ifs, what I end up holding is the fear that I have blown the chance to be accepted and loved. I know, I know, that “no one is perfect, everyone makes mistakes.” Yet, it is much easier for me to forgive others than to accept my own imperfections, because rejection is the greatest fear, tantamount to death our ancient DNA structure.
| Pema Chodron, again. These words are especially important to me, today. Blessings on us all.
January 25, 2012
WE ARE COMPLETELY INTERRELATED
If we begin to surrender to ourselves—begin to drop the story line and experience what all this messy stuff behind the story line feels like—we begin to find bodhichitta, the tenderness that’s underneath all the harshness. By being kind to ourselves, we become kind to others. By being kind to others—if it’s done properly, with proper understanding—we benefit as well.
So the first point is that we are completely interrelated. What you do to others, you do to yourself. What you do to yourself, you do to others.
An essential part of my personal and professional practice is in hospice. Since 1978 I have worked or volunteered with the seriously ill and dying, providing support to patients and families. Every hospice volunteer or worker knows that the real gift is not in the giving of service, but in the lessons and love received. I recommend this book to everyone, because we all will face the end of our days, and the days of many we love.
Thanks to Judith Keyssar, RN director of a hospice program in SF, for this marvelous read. “Last Acts of Kindness” tells the stories and lessons from the bedside of hospice patients, and just won a national award (to be announced in January 2012). Comfort, love, and hope on every page.
I took an actual vacate-tion this early autumn. Two weeks with no obligation to be productive. For fifteen hundred miles in a comfy rental car, no schedule or itinerary, I loafed and lingered, knowing I needed a decisive break from fixed routine. And yet, an odd sense of guilt, of not being productive or useful, haunted me. And that reminded me that guilt is rooted in fear, specifically the fear of being found unworthy, useless.
Knowing that guilt over relaxing would not serve the Greater Good, I persisted in my goal of escaping being over-responsible. (I am aware of the irony of making goallessness a goal.) I didn’t even write in my journal for much of the trip. Instead, I saw the trees change colors for the first time in my life, pulled over dozens of time to take pictures and sometimes left my camera, and simply cried at the beauty of it all. I discovered XM radio, where several classical, comedy, and NPR stations vied for my attention. And the silence crept in a little each day, until I would realize I hadn’t turned on the radio for half an hour or more. I didn’t want to hear the news, even music distracted me at times from simply seeing, and being at home within myself.
Beyond words and knowing, the antidote for pressure might sometimes be silence, a soft and sacred space.
I frequently find myself lost. I seldom have a complete certainty of where I am on the planet. Whether in parking lots, department stores, or most recently in Golden Gate Park by the museums, if it weren’t for people who know where I happen to be at that moment, and what direction might get me to where I want to go, I wouldn’t “be here now.” It has to be brain damage from… drugs? car accidents? brain surgery? I’ve had them all.
For the most part I have learned not to panic. Being clean and sober, finding myself in totally foreign landscapes can be a sort of high, at least Twilight Zone-esque. I used to feel shame, frustration, and self-deprecation in these circumstances. I’ve learned to surrender during these misadventures, telling myself that the spiritual warrior learns to “enjoy the journey.”
I fear the disorientation may be getting worse. My only hope is that I lean toward the style of the absent-minded professor whom people find adorable. There is a terrific story about Albert Einstein. He was walking on the Princeton campus when a student asked him to discuss a theorem. After a cheerful and engaging conversation, Albert said, “And now, if you wouldn’t mind helping me? When you stopped me, was I walking toward or away from the Science building?” When the student replied, “Toward, sir.” “Ah, then I’ve already had my breakfast.”
I once heard the term pronoid, defined as a person who has the sneaky suspicion that everyone wants to help her. This is me, how I was raised. My family subscribed to Will Rogers’ philosophy that a stranger is just a friend you haven’t met. This core orientation allows me to fearlessly ask for directions, and given that I tend to go in circles, often from the same person twice.
There is sufficient scientific evidence proving that assisting other people reduces stress, so perhaps I am doing a service to let the helpful help me.
At times, I recognize this attitude may be irresponsible, being cavalier about a character defect that I could improve. I’ve avoided putting it on the long list of issues that bother me much more; those having to do with kindness, acceptance of things I cannot change and the like.
After hearing my story about being lost in Golden Gate Park, my friend Alice gave me a portable GPS. Perhaps my energy would best be spent in learning to program the thing. It’s wonderful also to depend on the kindness my friends.
Here is a sweet reminder from Pema Chondron
AN INNOCENT MISUNDERSTANDING
When the Buddha taught, he didn’t say that we were bad people or that there was some sin that we had committed—original or otherwise—that made us more ignorant than clear, more harsh than gentle, more closed than open. He taught that there is a kind of innocent misunderstanding that we all share, something that can be turned around, corrected, and seen through, as if we were in a dark room and someone showed us where the light switch was. It isn’t a sin that we are in a dark room. It’s just an innocent situation, but how fortunate that someone shows us where the light switch is. It brightens up our life considerably. We can start to read books, to see one another’s faces, to discover the colors of the walls, to enjoy the little animals that creep in and out of the room.
Be gentle with yourself. Blessings, Cynthia