“Our confidence is rooted in our perception of ourselves regardless of any tangible external reality. . . Confidence is a feeling. It’s a state of mind. It’s the perception that you lack nothing. That you are equipped with everything you need, both now and for the future. . . The solution is to simply become comfortable with what you potentially lack. The big charade with confidence is that it has nothing to do with the comfort of what we achieve and everything to do with the comfort of what we don’t achieve. . . Comfort in our failures allows us to act without fear, to engage without judgment, to love without conditions.”
~ Mark Manson
As I mentioned, in 2014 was my big shaking up trauma – a pulmonary embolism and subsequent deep vein thrombosis in my right calf, an event I started calling my “second chance”. A close-to-death experience brings a unique energy that can push towards transformation. For me, as for many people, a transformation wasn’t going to be a kind of big bang evolutionary moment. It would be a slow grind, set in motion by that unexpected glance at death, pushed along by the slow process of recovery and then carried along through smaller and bigger choices and synchronicities over the next years.
This year when I began to practice Kuk Sool in earnest, the shaking up of the transformative energy meant I had various difficult experiences with relationships and a lot of inner turmoil around work, managing a team, and trying to manage my own emotional roller coaster. Actually this wasn’t anything new, but I started seeing the issues.
All these problems within myself overwhelmed me. Every little issue that came up was a magnitude 8 earthquake, sending me reeling and feeling completely inadequate. I wanted to get out of old patterns of anxiety attacks, and get a handle on myself!
Smoking. I struggled with smoking – needing something outside of myself to try to soothe me, particularly in the ups and downs of dealing with men and my need to connect and feel validated by them, because in myself I could not find validation. Smoking was self-medication and at the same time self-destruction. Not necessarily in a conscious way, but the tendency was always there, as we will see.
And every cigarette or snus (mouth tobacco) was further guilt – further proof of what a failure I was. How could I have suffered an embolism, stared into the real possibility of death, struggled to take even the shallowest of breaths to keep myself alive, have been given this second chance at life, and then turned around and started smoking again? It wasn’t regular everyday smoking, I’d tell myself. I wasn’t a true smoker, really. But sometimes one here or there. Except for now and again it was chain smoking or chain snusing to try to not feel. To not have to deal.
When you decide that you want to be free of what has always held you back, resistant energies reach their greedy little hands out to pull you back into mental and emotional chaos, and your monkey mind gains this extraordinary power, fueled by the shame you’ve had imprinted on your being since childhood. Your traitor mind resonates through your whole being with these questions and mantras of “Who do you think you are? Do you think you’re different? Do you think you can be something else? You’re pathetic. You’ll never be anything other than what you are – a failure.”
It is a tiresome, tiresome game trying to silence that voice. It attacks from every which way and hits you blindside, finding its momentum in each crazy and difficult circumstance you find yourself in. Truthfully, there’s no point in trying to quiet that voice. Another new voice needs to be fueled. One that is stronger and will tackle and corner that old voice. A powerful voice born of your deepest essence that emblazons possibility and hope and the knowledge that you are more than the sum of your entire past.
I journaled in December 2016:
Thinking about the idea of ebb and flow and how inner strength is what keeps the ebb and flow of life from knocking us off of our stability. I too easily let things around me alter my sense of well-being. But it’s not circumstances in themselves that have the power to alter my emotions or peace of mind. It’s my perceptions and beliefs regarding the circumstances. That’s why language is powerful. That’s why I need to speak more kindly about myself. . . My experiences have all been learning and growing opportunities, I’ve needed those. I’ve needed to grow. I still need to grow. It comes down to that.
For the first time in my life, I could embrace the idea that it might not be the outside circumstances, but the way in which I thought about them that was causing all the anguish. There was this ever so slight movement away from victimhood and a tentative step towards the promised land of personal agency.
Also, somewhere in the depths of me I understood that we learn through mistakes, which, though it may seem obvious to you, to me was a major revelation. Mistakes were never permitted growing up. Mistakes were a sign of failure, and not circumstantial failure, but proof of the fatally flawed state you were born into. Original sin and everything else.
That belief in your lack of worth is the real cancer. One that takes much time and focus to cure. The cancer of shame.