A few years ago, I was privileged to hear a speech by Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements. One of the things that struck me most about his lecture was when he talked about leaving his culture and going out into the world. His story went something like this:
Don Miguel was raised in the Toltec tradition in Mexico, where his grandfather was a tribal elder and a shaman who was known as a great, wizened teacher. When Don Miguel left home to pursue his formal education, he rejected the teachings that he'd been subjected to in his culture. He became seduced instead by the world around him, was educated as a medical doctor, and returned home with the primary intention of using his new-found knowledge to confront his grandfather's Toltec beliefs.
Don Miguel met with his grandfather, and for several hours gave him a dissertation about the primitive nature of the Toltec beliefs. When he finally finished, he looked at his grandfather and said, "So what do you think?"
His grandfather looked him straight in the eye and said, "Lies, all lies," and then proceeded to explain why. At that very moment, Don Miguel began his "graduate study" of his own culture and later became a Toltec master himself.
The next day, the people I work with asked if I remembered anything about the lecture. For the next hour and a half, I told them pretty much verbatim what Don Miguel Ruiz had said.
I've never been able to do such a thing before or since -- I certainly don't have a photographic memory -- but I'd been completely open to this man who had such great power and who'd gone through a journey that had brought him to a place of truth. He was a superb communicator: He spoke broken English, but it was almost as if everything he said bypassed any type of filter system that was imprinted within my psyche. I was very impressed, and continue to be to this day.
Being Impeccable With Our Word
One of the things that Don Miguel spoke about was being impeccable with our word. He stressed repeatedly that the most important thing for us to watch in regard to our conversation is not so much what we say to others, but what we say to ourselves. I'm totally convinced that this is of paramount importance, because what we tell ourselves is primarily what we'll be saying to others on a daily basis.
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We absolutely must pay attention to our own stories and how we repeat them to ourselves moment to moment as we live our lives. In other words, if some of the information or programming that we've taken on doesn't work in ways that bring joy into our lives, we're obligated to change it. Each of us should be a walking, breathing example of the joy of living -- and the only way I know how to do that is to walk through the fear and self-doubt that we've adopted over the years as a pattern of survival. And as we do so, we change "survival" to "living." As Don Miguel says, we must be impeccable with our word: When we feel fear, we must acknowledge it; and when we feel self-doubt, we must also acknowledge it. What we say to ourselves is the most important conversation we'll have all day.
Shattering Preconceived Notions
One thing about acknowledging fear and self-doubt is that when we do, we often realize how ridiculous these emotions are. For instance, if I had a dollar for every time I've made up a story about someone in order to prepare myself for what I feared might be the inevitable, or the possibility of my getting hurt, I'd be a rich man by now. Let me tell you what I mean.
In the early 1990s, I met Judy McCaleb, whom I'd made up a story about before I even met. I knew that she was an extremely intelligent, attractive, sophisticated, and matter-of-fact woman, and I surmised that she'd risen to the top of her profession not by being the nurturing kind of female that I enjoy being around, but by being someone with a couple of steel rods down her back, or an "ice queen." I envisioned her to be a sharp, ruthless, very powerful, and self-assured woman.
Upon learning that Judy was going to be my new boss, I was immediately triggered into feeling like a helpless little boy, even though I was a middle-aged man who stood 6'4" and weighed about 220 pounds. In and of itself, my assessment of Judy as an "ice queen" was the foundation for my fear. Fortunately, I knew that if I didn't become proactive with my feelings, I wouldn't enjoy coming to work the next day. So I called Judy immediately and made an appointment to meet with her the following afternoon.
When I walked into her office, Judy was sitting behind her desk in what I refer to as a "power suit," emitting enough energy to light up Delaware. Looking up at me, she asked, "What can I do for you, Wyatt?"
I said, "When I found out yesterday that you were going to be my new boss, I immediately became uncomfortable."
"I'm afraid of you," I replied honestly.
Her face immediately softened, but she looked puzzled as she asked, "Why is that?"
"It's not about you," I said. "It has to do with my not knowing how to deal with powerful women -- it's an old thing and is among many scenarios I'm continuing to work on that scare me. This just happens to be a stopover along the way."
She smiled and said, "Well, I've been looking forward to the opportunity to work with you."
This came as a total surprise to me. Judy went on to tell me how much she admired what many people had told her about me, including my sensitivity, my kindness, and my straightforward approach to my work and how I live my life. She added, "One of the reasons I've been looking forward to working with you is that I believe you're trustworthy, because you walk your talk."
That day, thanks to acknowledging my fears and bringing them to light, I was able to begin a wonderful relationship with a truly amazing human being. We worked together for a period of months before Judy decided to resign from her position and move on to a full partnership with her husband in a successful development business here in Tucson. The day she announced her decision to leave the company was one of the most moving events I've ever witnessed. Judy was so well loved and respected that when she announced her plans to leave, half of the grown men in the room were reduced to tears.
Over the years, I've stayed in touch with Judy, who remains one of the kindest, sweetest souls I've ever met. She continues to be totally successful in her life.
Acknowledging Your Fear and Self-Doubt
I recently asked if I could write about her in this book, and she was deeply touched. Just about every time I see her, we wind up misty-eyed, remembering that day when I walked in and did my best to clear my stuff out of the way so that I could let her into my heart. Thank you, Judy, for allowing me to use this example in these writings -- but thank you most of all for being my friend.
What has always made my life the most fertile of landscapes for spiritual and emotional growth is my willingness to acknowledge and quantify my fear, to look at the worst-case scenario, to get information that's supportive, walk through the fear, and come out on the other side with a smile on my face.
Know that these steps are always available to you as well -- but that first one is the most important. It all starts with acknowledging your fear and self-doubt.
© Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Hay House Inc. www.hayhouse.com
Five Steps for Overcoming Fear & Self-Doubt: Journey Into Present-Moment Time
by Wyatt Webb.
Info/Order this book. Also available as a Kindle edition.
About the Author
Wyatt Webb survived 15 years in the music industry as an entertainer, touring the country 30 weeks a year. Realizing he was practically killing himself due to drug-and-alcohol addictions, Wyatt sought help, which eventually led him to quit the entertainment industry. He began what is now a 20-year career as a therapist. Today he's the founder and leader of the Equine Experience at Miraval Life in Balance, one of the world's top resorts, which is also located in Tucson.