“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”
The first lines of The Dhammapada: The Sayings of the Buddha read: “We are what we think. All that we are arises from our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” Nowhere is this more obvious than in our opinion of ourselves. What am I here for? What is the meaning of my life? What are my gifts, and how do I offer them? These are big questions, necessary questions. Some of us focus on our deficits, those things we cannot do, or for which we have no aptitude. We groan over even little flaws. And some of us are so overblown in what we think of ourselves that we can think of little else. The trick is to come to a settling place somewhere in the middle.
Being realistic is necessary. I, for instance, am truly bad at math. I will never be a chemist or an engineer, and honestly, I have no interest in those pursuits. But, I don't need to condemn myself to the dark chambers of ignorance for being truly bad at math. I can focus instead on what I am good at. On the other hand, it would be silly and distasteful for me to continuously brag about the things that I do well—also, it would be boring for others to hear. Nobody likes a braggart. If you're good at something, just do it. Eventually, your skill will be apparent. And even if others do not heap praise upon you, you will know that you are doing a good job, and that, all by itself, is quite satisfying.
Theodore Roosevelt said, “Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage and confidence in the doing.” Sometimes, allowing into our awareness that we have a gift is just as difficult as feeling we have nothing to offer. Many of us were brought up to think that we should be humble. We carry that Biblical admonition, “Pride goes before the fall,” imprinted deeply in our brains. But confidence and pride are not the same. Confidence is simply assurance that we have something to offer that is worthy. We don't need that assurance to come from others if we believe it ourselves. And we don't need to thump our chests about it, either.
Here is a short quote from the Tao Te Ching: “Because one believes in oneself, one does not try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn't need others' approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” (Lao Tzu) What are your gifts and talents? Are you courageous enough to offer them to others?
In the Spirit,