Studies show that you can predict a person’s ability to change a habit by the degree to which they believe in their ability to change. Self-efficacy is the term given to that belief in your own capabilities. Many people go on a diet without truly believing that they are going to lose weight, in fact they often expect to put it back on. How can we succeed at anything when we doubt ourselves? And how do those doubts get planted in our brains?
There is a whole industry dedicated to affirmations, those daily positive sayings that are designed to inspire you, that tell you of your abilities, your beauty and your worth. There are bookshelves full of self-help books that have capitalized on the knowledge that deep down we are ruled by our insecurities, our fears and our lack of confidence. But when you watch a toddler at play, you are looking at a fearless, self-confident, self-absorbed individual who just knows she rules the world! How can we teach them to be careful and safe without instilling trepidation and anxiety?
Our society has created a phenomenon called ‘Throwback Thursday’, a day when people dig up old photos of themselves and others, then post them on facebook to embarrass or amuse. It is good to try to picture yourself as a child. What dreams did you have? What mountains were you sure you could climb? Who did you want to be when you grew up? For a time one of my goals was to be a cowgirl. I even had a dress-up costume, complete with sheriff badge! Before we left England for Jamaica, I told my father that I had to give a farewell speech at the going away party they had planned for him. I was seven; I didn’t know you were supposed to be afraid of public speaking.
There are times when life forces you into a role you had no intention of filling. The death of a spouse or a parent may push you to take on responsibilities you were unprepared for. And yet somehow you make it, you find you have talents you never knew you had. And even though you may not enjoy these tasks you have to fulfill, the pride of accomplishment gives you the confidence to try other new tricks!
Many of us have had to travel, to start life anew in a place far from the land of our birth. Maybe we haven’t moved that far, but we have undergone experiences such as health challenges or economic challenges that have forced us to adapt rapidly to a new and hostile environment. How do we cope? We gird up our loins and we take it one day at a time at first, learning as we go, trying to find the strength to understand ‘foreign’, or learn a new normal. We move from a safe and secure place to one full of threats and insecurities. And years later, when we look back, we can hardly remember how scared we were the first day we had to drive on a six lane highway, merging with traffic driving at high rates of speed, knuckles tight on the steering wheel, suddenly finding God and religion as we prayed not to get hit! Yet how many other such experiences are now common place? How many things do you do without thinking, that once you would have run away, claiming you couldn’t do them?
Sometimes we have to trick ourselves, chanting mantras of self-confidence and self-belief, to get through the day. There is a saying “Fake it till you make it”. Sometimes the act of pretending that everything is ok can even fool you, and you realize that the challenge you didn’t believe you could overcome has been attained.
The man who wrote the quote at the top of the page overcame the holocaust. He was imprisoned by the Nazis and yet found a way to not just survive, but to come out a better man. He recognized and stated that the last freedom to lose is the freedom of choice, and even when you think all choices have been taken away, you still have the choice of your attitude. How many of us choose losing attitudes, choosing to complain about frustrations rather than celebrate our blessings. He also wrote: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Too many of us believe we unable to change ourselves, not recognizing that it is totally within our power to become whoever we want to be, no matter how late in life.
This weekend I hope you can spend some time reflecting on the things you are afraid of, those things you are sure you cannot do. Then ask yourself why do I think this? Why shouldn’t I be able to do this? What is the worse that can happen?
On this crisp South Florida morning (morning star shining, slightly less than full moon sitting low in a clear western sky) I wish you the power to see yourself as the amazing human being you are, full of untapped potential and limitless abilities. Yes you can!
One Love, Family! Looking forward to a joyful Sunday Service with the South Florida chapter!