"To be uncertain is to be uncomfortable,
but to be certain is to be ridiculous."
-- Chinese wisdom
So, stop a minute and ask yourself that question: "What if I gave a party and nobody came?" . What feelings come up for you?
While we may not ever have found ourselves in that particular situation, I think we can all identify with the feeling of insecurity... That feeling connects to so many things... the fear of being unloved, unappreciated, unseen. The fear of failure. The fear of rejection. The fear of being a laughing stock. And I'm sure you can add other fears to your list.
All of these fears culminate in feelings of insecurity, of not being confident in who we are, of being concerned about what others will say or think. And of course, if we think of ourselves as "less than", whether that is less than others or less than who we think we should be, then questions about the future will bring up doubt and insecurity. And unfortunately, we may think that we are the only ones dealing with these emotions. After all, it may seem like everyone else is out there "strutting their stuff", posting their super-successes on Facebook, and being very sure of themselves.
The kink in that story is of course that we cannot see inside other people's heads. We cannot hear their doubts, their self-recriminating thoughts, and their rampant self-talk. We can only hear ours. Consequently, we may believe that we are the only one with the self-doubt and the critical inner voice.
Being Aware of Ourselves and Others
Perhaps one of the greatest things that has come out of the personal growth movement is that we've become aware that everyone else has their own "stuff" and their issues to deal with. Yet, as adults we still carry beliefs and fears that can plague us or stop us from reaching for our dream.
Sometimes we stop ourselves even before we consider the possibility of success. After all, "who are we to think we can....(fill in your own doubt here)" And then of course, there are the well-meaning friends or even parents who might discourage us from reaching for our dream. This they do with our best interests at heart as they are tying to protect us from getting hurt. But we must be allowed to take risks, and perhaps fail, so that we can learn. When we reach for our dream, we may experience numerous instances of failure and our fair share of challenges, but that is part of the process.
I am often reminded of the story about Edison, the inventor of the light bulb. A reporter asked him, "How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?" Edison replied, "I didn't fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps." And so it goes with anything in our life. Whether it's changing a habit or altering an undesirable behavior, it's not a one step-process.
So if you start a new project, launch a new product, start on a new mode of behavior, you may "fail" 1,000 times. If nobody shows up at your party, you then look at other options. You first look at what may have caused the problem. Did you forget to invite people? Did you make it in a remote location so that no once could get there? And then, you decide on the next step to take. Whatever the situation, there is always a next step you can take. Light bulb didn't work? What do we try next? Your online video didn't go viral? Maybe some other good came of it.
Humans seem to be wired for a "not enough syndrome". We aren't pretty enough, not good enough, not enough money, time, health, loved ones, brains, success... We have not attained the pinnacle of success. But, instead of turning to the old "tried and true method" of self-recrimination, we can instead look at what good came from the experience. What is the underlying lesson for us in the situation? Is it learning patience? acceptance? bravery? persistence?
Always Something To Learn
There's always something to learn, something to help make us stronger and more at peace with ourselves and with the world around us. Now that I'm in my 60s, I look back at my life as a giant jigsaw puzzle, and can recognize the road signs that were on my path. The temp jobs came along to teach me skills that I used many years later. Even the loss of a job or residence was a way to get me to the next step on my journey.
I have a friend who often will tell me that I am patient. While that may be true (sometimes), I think my strength lies more in acceptance and trust. Knowing somehow that everything will work out in the end. It doesn't mean that I can sit back and just let things happen... Instead it means that I accept was has happened as "what is" and I move on to the next step.
So if I threw a party and nobody came, I could either open the doors and invite whoever was around to come to the party, or stock up my freezer with "left-overs". The choice we make is not the important thing. What is of more importance is the attitude we make the choice with. We can be dragged to the next step of our life's journey kicking and screaming, or we can say, OK, let's go!
Life Is Uncertain
We never know for sure what will happen in the next moment. And playing it safe does not always protect us from challenges and calamities. What it does, is take the joy out of life. Staying home safely ensconced on our couch eating potato chips may feel safe (except for the fat and salt content in the chips), but it also takes the spark and zest out of life and our future.
So let's all stand and take a chance on life. Yes, life can be a bitch. Uncertainty can be scary. Failure can feel like the earth has stopped. But refusing to take chances and doing nothing is a waste of a perfectly good future and of our life.
So go ahead, throw a party. Take a risk, Follow your dream. There is no such thing as lasting failure. Just a curve in the road and perhaps a different direction bringing you to new vistas.
The Gift of Great Chinese Wisdom
by Helen Exley
This book pairs the essence of Chinese philosophy with original watercolors by Angela Kerr. This full-color package is an ideal gift for any occasion, an attractive art object that provides wisdom and inspiration for times when a little spiritual pick-me-up is required. Included are over 100 felicitous selections from Chuang Tzu, Lao Tzu, Li Po, Confucius, and many others.
About The Author
Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.
Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com