Parents will be very familiar with this concept. When a child wants something and the parent denies their request, the child will often lash out in disappointment and say, “I hate you! I wish I had a different father!” That sounds like a heavy blow on the surface, but we are able to acknowledge that it is generated in anger and frustration, so we quickly move on. The parent can see that this is part of a child’s development—he or she is simply expressing what they think in a safe environment.
It’s OK for adults to be bad sometimes, too, as long as we are able to remember who we truly are and remain certain in that knowledge. Sometimes we get caught up in the idea of looking good, for example, because we fear disapproval from others. We would do better to try out the attitude “let me try my best to look good.” Healthy adults try something and then, if they fail, they try another route next time. Some people may think of you as being “bad” in the moments when you do fail, but this is a small price to pay for overall happiness and a feeling that you are achieving growth.
Being empathetic means putting yourself in the position of trying to understand someone else’s pain, offering statements like “me too,” or being able to imagine walking in another person’s shoes. Sympathy is slightly different—it’s to show concern but not to fully feel someone else’s pain as it has not happened to you. Both, however, are powerful expressions of love, caring, and attention that help us connect to other human beings.
MOTTO: Don’t be defined by one moment. Falling into the trap of defining your whole nature because of one experience is not useful for successful living. Accept the mistake, apologise if necessary, and move on.
Stepping Back to Take a Good Look
The mind can get caught up in the obsession of chasing perfection. This can only lead to being angry with yourself, and if you beat yourself up constantly, you’re sure to lower your mood and self-esteem.
Pause: Look back over times when you beat yourself up. Think what you would do if a visitor came to your house and, once you opened the door, he slapped you in the face! Would you ever open the door again? I can hear you saying “Yes, repeatedly.” Well, try keeping the door closed and look for a positive twist on your situation or, if you cannot find one, then delay opening the door or even just let the doorbell ring—it won’t kill you!
The mind has many habits, like keeping hold of happy thoughts and pushing out threatening ones. Emotions may come and go like a wave, or they may flood over you.
Looking at what the mind does when you experience thoughts/images and feelings is looking at the bigger picture. When you begin to develop your mindfulness practice, you will naturally be in the beginner’s mind. At times you may find it difficult to stay with difficult thoughts and feelings, but as you continue you will move towards the wise mind and this will become easier. This is good news—it means the obstacles you placed in front of yourself are slowly melting away and you are beginning to realise your potential.
Finding Fault with the Concept of Self-Confidence
We are not wired to be superhuman. Look at your talents and see them as a great embellishment to being alive. As with self-esteem, the self-confidence concept risks jumping into the self-rating game, and we know now that can be perilous and can reinforce negative or unhealthy attitudes. Once you start saying “I must be able to do all these things to be complete,” not being able to do them will be a recipe for disaster.
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