Nurturing The Small Growth Of Self Confidence

I have these VERY weird thoughts sometimes. Thoughts born from some mysterious source of unknown self-confidence that I can never harness when I need it. They don’t pop into my head often, but when they do, they take one of two structures. The details of both change from time to time, but the simple basis stays the same. I guess they pop up at moments where maybe I’m feeling good about myself as a writer or as a storyteller?

  1. I should give a TED Talk.
  2. I should write self-help articles/essays.

Unfortunately, these are not thoughts or ideas that stick around after even the tiniest bit of introspection. They stick their small green leaves up from the ground in weird and unexpected moments. But they don’t continue to grow because I don’t know where they come from, so I panic and immediately remind myself why these ideas are terrible and shouldn’t have room to flourish in my mind.

  1. I have no professional success by which to inspire people.
  2. I am fumbling around trying to navigate the sandwich generation with almost no real success.
  3. I am currently on the decline in terms of health and/or fitness.
  4. I am nowhere near the point where I can claim parenting victories of any sort. I mean, other than mere survival. As a matter of fact, the most concrete lesson I have learned about parenting is that there are endless ways in which you can screw up your kids.
  5. My marriage is strong and long-lasting but no in any way that can be formulaic. I have a very abstract marriage, I guess you could say.
  6. Most days I’m just barely keeping my head above water in terms of winning the battles against the current of my anxiety and depression.
  7. I have no doctrine or religious Faith which I have dedicated myself to
  8. I cry a lot.
  9. And then I stop myself…

It’s like I feel momentary confidence to have the thoughts, and then my insecurities kick in rip those thoughts out of my head before they take root.

BUT THEN!

Lately I remember my training and my years of therapy and personal education and positive introspection and I shift gears. While I can’t stop my brain from having these reaction/response/reaction cycles, I can control them more and direct them more. I can reframe all of those negative “truths” I tell myself in a more positive light.

  1. I lost my job in 2018 and have found many ways to serve my family that bring me closer to them in the years that have followed.
  2. One of those people is my Mother who did not raise me and so I’ve weirdly gotten to know her more in my 40s than I ever have before.
  3. I no longer obsess about my weight or what I’m eating and I’m slowly but surely reshaping my relationship with food and exercise.
  4. I am learning to stay in the moment with my parenting and not over analyze the various ripples that may shoot out in my kid’s lives from my actions.
  5. My marriage survives because we adapt and we still depend on each other for support and counsel.
  6. Every day that I’m not planning my exit, I am winning the war against my mental health foes.
  7. I have grown to have faith in the power of real love and kindness and empathy and what it can do to change hearts in the absence of religious dogma.
  8. It’s okay to cry a lot…

Unfortunately, it’s always too late to save the plant with this positive self talk. It keeps me from poisoning the soil where it grew, but that single sprout has no more life left to give.

I’m not saying that I should write self-help articles or give TED talks. But what I am saying is that I should not make such an effort to squash those thoughts when they pop into my head. I learned a lot about myself training for long races, that I could do something that sounded crazy if I had a realistic perspective of my talents. I never attempted to make the Olympic Marathon team, but I did do a 110K in under 15 hours.

It’s one thing to have negative self-talk. It’s another thing entirely to smother any positive self-talk with negative self-talk. I mean, when my response to a confident idea is to beat myself down with so-called “hard truths,” then I’m not being honest with myself…I’m damaging myself.

Maybe I should not just instinctively squash dreams that seem out of reach by framing current “truths” in such a negative light. Maybe I give myself more grace during those rare moments of confidence instead of stomping my foot on that small growth coming from infertile ground. Those thoughts don’t happen often, probably because I annihilate them immediately with my giant boot of negative self-talk.

Maybe I keep trying to give them room to breathe that confidence in those moments will take root into something beautiful. Maybe I try to go to a few open mic nights and get inspiration to maybe work on a story to tell there? Maybe I just write a series of “Lessons I Have Learned” blog posts. Who knows what could happen if I could nurture those small sprouts of confidence more instead of dousing them with weed-killer under some sort of false concept of self-protection.

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