The subtitle of this Chat could be; “playing small”. Life truly does shrink or expand in proportion to our courage, and also in proportion to our confidence. I am waking up to the awareness that my own levels of courage and confidence have taken serious dives in the past couple of years. I can see how my world has shrunk down to this hamster wheel of worry. Mostly worry about being enough in some way. Hell, I was in Africa earlier this year on the trip of a lifetime and my mind was in my wheel of recurring thoughts and worries about my relationships, my career, self-doubt – all these narrow, well-worn cattle paths in my brain that I run on a daily basis.
When we struggle to find our confidence or courage, pretty much anything outside our tiny view of the world looks scary and out of control, like an enemy – but I have seen the enemy, and she is ME. She lives in the most dangerous place possible… in my head!
Witnessing others with low levels of confidence or courage and noticing how it effects their view on life and then conversely witnessing those who just go for it in life, has opened me up to looking at my own levels of confidence. In checking in on my own life and when my confidence has dipped, it seems that the most dramatic times were when I experienced some sort of loss. At various points in my life I have lost:
This most recent loss of confidence and courage seems to have taken a somewhat bigger or different toll than all the others. My world shrank maybe more because many of the support systems I had relied on in the past – were DEAD! Dad, Mom, my brother, my mentor Taz… these people who had always convinced me I was unstoppable - were no longer physically available to converse with. And others in my support system were, understandably, going through their own pain and hamster wheel distractions.
So this time, pulling myself up and relocating my confidence and courage has been different than all the other times because I had to find a new route. New skills, new inner circle of support and spend more time just being in the pain rather than ignoring it. This is not "wrong" or "bad". Staying with the pain actually takes a TON of courage. Being willing to feel it, invite it in - so it can move on once and for all is a very brave act indeed.
Confidence really does determine how big or small our world is. I wonder if this is what often happened when we retire… we spend decades believing our identity is in our job and what we DO rather than who we BE. So when we stop working and DOING – who are we? Confidence wains, fear shows up about things like; our life span, perhaps money, if we are making a contribution to life... our world starts to revolve around what’s for dinner and our bowel movements. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Confidence and courage are main ingredients to our view of the world, other people, our purpose and what manifests in our lives. If you have ever asked someone a question about their vision or big picture ideas – you will get big insight on their level of confidence and courage. Better yet, ask YOURSELF these types of questions and notice the focus of your answers.
Is the focus of your answers on the wrong doing of others? How you don’t have something? What you CAN’T do? What someone else “Should” do? These types of answers indicate LOW confidence and courage. We look outside ourselves rather than showing up as creators in our lives. When these are the types of answers we give or get to questions about vision for the future or the big picture, we waste time on the hamster wheel of blame, victim mentality or dimming ourselves.
Being courageous takes a focus on how we can make a difference, become our best versions of ourselves. This takes FEARLESSNESS.
This quality is in my genetics – and most likely in yours too. When I think about my ancestors, who found a way to get on a ship and make it across the ocean, fought in wars here, then eventually trek across half the continent in a covered wagon to wind up in Mills and Fremont Counties of Iowa and be excited to start from nothing over 160 years ago – I owe it to that story line to stay confident and courageous. In honoring the clan that got me here genetically, I need to remember who I am and that fearlessness is in my blood.
There is an idea that says we all have what is called a spirit animal. We might have more than one in our lifetime. It’s an animal that represents healing or helps us find our way in difficult times. Sort of a representative of who we are.
The butterfly is certainly one of my guides. Personal transformation, change, spreading your wings, beauty, open and light. And at the same time the badger represents the courage and fearlessness part of my journey. Tenacious, persistent, they protect their own fiercely and will take on any challenge. I need to call on my inner badger! Regain my confidence and courage so I can show up fully and contribute more.
Yes, we can be both open & loving and strong & fearless at the same damn time. When you are willing to BE this paradox, your life expands in size. Knowing who you are, knowing you won’t tolerate certain things, being courageous and at the very same time being loving, generous, and open – this is stepping into a big life. It’s not either/or, black/white, good/bad… it’s being both that makes for a big, big life.
Sandy Edie Hansen
I use this space to "Chat" about things I am working through and learning in my life currently. Join me!