Remind yourself of who you are, and that is who you will be no matter the circumstances.
On my first post of 2016, Rabia Gale commented:
“I enter 2016 with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Mostly excitement, though touched with doubt’s ghostly fingers. I know my own mindset is often my worst enemy. Do you have any tips or techniques for sustaining your resolve through the long months?”
The first thing I have to say on that is that I haven’t a clue how to sustain resolve through everything. I’m human, not a robot. Things happen, both expected and not, and I have Feelings about them. Sometimes I have Feelings about them for several weeks.
And, let’s be honest: we all have Feelings about things. We are not going to ever stop having Feelings about things.
The question is not “how do I keep from having Feelings?” but “how do I get back up when the Feelings have happened and now I’m staring from the flat of my back wondering if those stars are really there or if I’ve got brain damage and I’m doomed forever?”
To be clear: when I talk about Feelings, these aren’t the same as emotions or lower case f feelings. Emotions happen, flit around, and head off. They’re like Neverland fairies. They only have room for one thing at a time, and they change on a regular basis depending on what we’re paying attention to.
Lower case f feelings are more like our default mood. They’re deep, subtle, usually under the surface, and they always bring us back to whatever our normal is, no matter how high or low we stray.
And then we have Feelings. These happen when we experience something that pokes through all the layers and right into the middle of our insecurities, and those insecurities raise an army to protect themselves.
This is normal.
Our securities raise an army when poked, too. But that army doesn’t tear us down. It builds us up, reminds us of the good in ourselves, and generally bolsters our self esteem. We’ll call that army Faith.
The crazy thing about both Feelings and Faith is that they arise through exactly the same process.
First, life pokes us with a stick. In other words, Stuff Happens that either confirms or challenges what we believe deep down inside about who we are. That belief then raises an army of lower case f feelings to confirm that that’s who we are. If that belief is destructive (an insecurity), it raises Feelings to flatten us down. If it’s positive (a security), it raises Faith to build us up.
The truth is, Stuff always Happens. And it pokes any beliefs that will listen. Which is usually all of them, at varying strengths depending on how much they’re like the stick they’re being poked with.
Sometimes, we have Faith pushing us forward with ease.
Other times, Feelings crash us down with the same facility.
At yet other times, the two armies go head to head and achieve deadlock. This is what we call doubt. And it’s agonizing.
When we’re experiencing doubt, we can’t move because our faith contradicts itself. Lower case f faith. No matter which direction we’re moving, faith is what gets us there. Our Feelings pull us down because we have faith, we trust in an insecurity. Our Faith builds us up because we have faith in a security.
But when we have equal faith in a contradicting set of insecurity and security, it doesn’t matter how strong that faith is, we can’t move. Much as our Faith tries to bring us up, our Feelings are just as empowered to bring us down and so we spend a lot of energy being very, very stuck in the middle.
How can we move when we’re doubting? The same way we change directions.
We side with an army on purpose.
We choose which we trust more: our insecurities, or our securities.
We decide which of our opposing beliefs is true.
We remind ourselves of who we are.
Remember those Tinkerbell emotions of ours? They’re helpers in this process – when we line them up with information that we accept as true, we create or strengthen beliefs that follow in that same line. But remember how they change depending on where we put our attention? Our attention is also what allows life the chance to poke us with sticks, and the kind of stick depends on how their information lines up with our emotions. And, remember, the kind of stick will determine the kind of beliefs that respond most strongly.
When we choose to pay attention to things which confirms our insecurities, Feelings rise. When we choose to pay attention to things which confirms our securities, Faith rises.
The last thing to keep in mind is that both Feelings and Faith have a destination they’re trying to bring you to. Feelings, the army of destruction called to preserve our insecurities, will pull us down to death if we let them. Quite literally, too. But Faith, the army of encouragement called to preserve our securities, will carry us up to life if we let it.
So, when we find ourselves on a trajectory we don’t want, we remind ourselves who we are – someone who live or someone who dies – until we move past doubt and towards our chosen destination.
Sometimes we only have to do this once and we’ve uprooted an insecurity for good, replaced it with a security (or vice versa). Other times… most of the time, really, we remind ourselves over and over before it sticks. And we do so by deciding what to focus on.
Take a moment to let this sink in: We all have the ability to choose life or death for ourselves. We’re so good at it, in fact, that we’ll even do it without realizing!
And, at any time, we can choose a different end for ourselves.
Which means, no matter how many times we fall, we can always, always get back up.
I can’t tell you what the details of your choices will look like. Heck, I don’t even know what mine look like half the time.
But I urge you, no matter what’s happening, no matter what it looks like, no matter how big or small the decision, no matter how many people you might have to bring in or turn away:
And choose it again.
And let your Faith take wing.