~Cheryl Strayed, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar
Do you ever find yourself in that joyless state … of believing things about yourself which are no longer true?
I do, too. From time to time, I catch myself falling back into one of these outdated, no-longer-true perceptions of myself.
One of these beliefs is I am not brave. That I am not brave enough to do that next big thing I need to do. And when I believe this about myself, I surrender my confidence and the courage I need to take the next logical step forward. “What we think, we become.” This quote, attributed to the Buddha, halts me in my tracks. It keeps me from surrendering new and powerful notions I have of myself on the altar of comfortable well-worn-groove of thoughts.
Truthfully, I’ve done plenty of things in my life which required me to be brave, very brave. Like advocate for and get a new library built in my community. As a Library Director, it took a good deal of courage and fortitude to work with board members who hesitated to build a new library, and yet, who would easily spend three times that amount on other municipal projects. Or like the bravery which allowed me to open my heart to a soul-quenching-love after a life-dismantling divorce. Or the bravery I marshalled to go, by myself, to bicycle shops all over Madison and to ultimately purchase a brand-new road bike. My logic was this: if I couldn’t have a baby or a husband, at the very least, I was going to follow the smallest glimmer of joy I could find and dammit – I was going biking.
Another happiness-sucking thought, where I’ve surrendered a lot of joy, was the idea I couldn’t be happy if I wasn’t a mother. Connecting my personal happiness to my dream of motherhood was absolutely a serious joy-killer.
It takes vigilance. The surrender of joy can happen in a Nano-second. Just like it did, ever so briefly, this past Saturday at the local coffee shop. High on a buzzy-endorphin-filled run, I greeted an acquaintance who started having babies right around the time my ex-husband and I were deep in the midst of one of our rounds of IUI. And there were her daughters, the ages my babies could have been. For a moment I felt all the goodness and blessings of my life begin to ooze out of me. And in the next breath I sucked that life-giving goodness right back inside with the reminder: motherhood is an old idea – an idea I once held for myself.
The link between motherhood and happiness is no longer true for me. If I make it my truth, I will suffer. If I choose to separate my state of happiness from my former dream of motherhood, then I can joyfully be the person I am right now. To choose joy, instead of sorrow and suffering, I must embrace new perceptions and supportive realities. This is why it is necessary for me to recognize and applaud my bravery instead of listening to the little voice who wants to tell me otherwise. This is why I celebrate the healthy, fun-filled, adventurous life I live.
What idea do you have of yourself, that isn’t true anymore? Perhaps you still believe one of these outdated ideas about yourself:
I can’t do anything right.
I am powerless.
I am not good enough.
I’m always messing things up.
I am unlovable.
I am unattractive.
I’m too disorganized.
I am different.
I am worthless.
I don’t belong.
… Or, perhaps you have other favorite misperceptions of yourself.
What have you been and what will you be? Will you choose to hold onto a limiting view of yourself?
I love this quote by the wise Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor and philosopher, “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly…”
Are you ready to stop surrendering your joy and choose a new truth?
The miracle is this – the answer is yours to create. You will be that which you decide.