We place our faith in other people and the advice they provide. We put our all into companies that promise us employment and a salary at the end of the month. We invest in “sure-win” businesses that promise unheard of returns after just one year. We want to count on something, believe in someone because we’d like a little certainty. We’d like to have a little bit of control in an increasingly out of control world.
Here’s what Collin’s and Poras say in their book *Built to Last* (and keep in mind that the final manuscript for this book was shipped to their publisher in 1994 – 20 years ago): “With the demise of the myth of job security, the accelerating pace of change, and the increasing ambiguity and complexity of our world, people who depend on external structures to provide continuity and stability run the very real risk of having their moorings ripped away. The only truly reliable source of stability is a strong inner core and the willingness to change and adapt everything EXCEPT THAT CORE.”
The fact that we have people who are even THINKING in terms of security in jobs, or in the kind of business they choose to get involved in is ludicrous. However, if we’ve lost the sense of ourselves as reliable sources of wisdom it’s no wonder we look outside ourselves for the security we seek. Ann Landers, the famous American advice columnist was once asked what question she was most frequently asked. “What’s wrong with me?” was her reply. And we shouldn’t be surprised.
If I were to ask you “what’s wrong with you?” you’d be able to tell me wouldn’t you? We all know what we do, why we do it and how we screw up. “I’m a procrastinator….a control freak….I self-sabotage…I have low self-esteem…I just can’t seem to say no…I have problems with feeling entitled…I’m addicted to pleasing people…and on and on.” How can we TRUST ourselves when all we recognize about ourselves is what’s WRONG with us? This reinforced by messages that suggest we have this or that disorder or syndrome, that what we’re eating is wrong, that our teeth should be whiter and that perhaps we might have ADD or worse…ADHD.
Author M.J. Ryan says “much of the advice we’re bombarded with reinforces the message that we are screwed up and that the answer to our problem lies in following this particular expert’s idea of what’s right. Rather than being helped to understand how we BEST function, how to find solutions that work best for US, we have become a people who look to others to define who we should BE, how we should FEEL and how we should LIVE. This has led to an increased incapacity to deal with life.”
The inner core that Collins and Poras refer to is our ability to trust ourselves and develop personal resilience ESPECIALLY in these fast paced and challenging times. Our lives are filled with many enjoyable moments. But there are also those times that are devastating, traumatic, stressful, upsetting, energy depleting and exhausting. Dr. Rick Hanson says “these moments sometimes come with great intensity, but mainly they’re woven into the fabric of everyday life: the frustration of a long commute, a squabble with a room-mate, trying to settle a squirming toddler into a car seat, an unexpected bill, a big push at work, a nagging illness, criticism from a boss, a painful breakup with a partner, sullen silence from a teenager…real life.”
M.J. Ryan says that self-trust is a virtue, like patience, that has been all but lost in the externally focused society that has increasingly evolved over the past fifty years or so. It is a combination of three emotional and spiritual qualities: self-awareness, the accurate assessment of WHO WE ARE and what we care about; self-acceptance, the embracing of who we are in all our complexity; and self-reliance, the ability to use what we know about ourselves to get the results we want in our lives without constant worry about the approval or disapproval of others. When we trust ourselves we’re in touch with that inner core. We have self-possession – an ease under stress that reflects a command of our powers. Consequently we know we can handle what life throws at us – we can complete the assignment, juggle our schedules, organize our desks AND handle the difficulty with our boss.
We begin our journey by looking within, without fearing what’s going to surface. We can take a fresh look at our gifts. We can begin to understand the shadow parts of ourselves and regard them as our guides. We begin to better understand our self-destructive patterns, our shame, our vulnerability and the chinks we developed in our emotional and mental armour and why.
The gifts of learning to trust ourselves and develop resilience are numerous. When we accept and trust WHO WE ARE we are more able to change and adapt. We learn that we can survive despite the struggles. We will blossom into our fullness, make better decisions, choose more wisely, not worry incessantly about those things beyond our control, let go of should, musts and oughts, loosen the bonds of perfection, say no when we choose to, tap into creativity we never knew existed, and most of all learn to live happily amidst the messiness of our lives.
We will finally come to this understanding: that we are perfect in our imperfections and we have all that we need right now – to bring every scrap of ourselves to be used to create our lives from this authentic, unshakable and indestructible core.
To paraphrase Anais Nin – Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find peace with exactly who and what you are. To take pride in your thoughts, your appearance, your talents, and your flaws and to stop this incessant worrying that you can’t be loved, just the way you are. Therein lies your security; therein lies your peace.
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