Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. –
Henry David Thoreau
We limit ourselves by thinking that things can’t be done. The difference between succeeding and failing is usually pretty slim. When the going gets really tough we can either give up or push on one more time – and the “one more time” just might be the one that pushes us past the obstacles. Thomas Edison, who patented more than a thousand devices, including the phonograph and the incandescent light bulb said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
We are what we think ourselves to be. The good news is that if the image we
have of ourselves is not the way we want to be, we can change by changing our image.
We can put our awareness outside of ourselves and observe objectively, and we
can go inside ourselves and feel the truth of our emotions. We can change. The
choice is ours. We can react – that is, give in to the conditioning of our habitual patterns
and let circumstances push us and pull us in whatever direction the wind is
blowing; or we can call on that part of ourselves that separates us from other
species – and make a conscious choice about the kind of person we want to be.
Confidence and vision come from having the courage to become conscious,
and to make a fully intended decision to become what we choose to be. It takes risk,
meaning a chance of loss, not only of internal or external security but the letting go of
thoughts that hold us back from following our passions. There is always an easy way.
For example, it may be easiest to do nothing. The easy way isn’t bad or good, it’s
just not a path that taps us into our inherent potential to do and be all that we’re here to
do and be. The path that taps us into that potential is generally risky. Confidence
doesn’t come from giving up or not trying. When we first started pulling ourselves up
onto furniture it was risky, but we did it. We must have fallen many times, yet in the end
we learned to walk. If we had given up the first time we tried and fell (or the eighth or
ninth), we wouldn’t be walking today. We have all had an experience, many experiences,
of building confidence and success.
Steve Jobs is an excellent model of confidence and vision. His astonishing
achievements have become a beacon of light, paving the way for expanding
our confidence in following the beat of our own inner drum. Jobs dropped
out of college, was fired from his position as a tech executive, and went on to
transform the world’s experience of personal computers and phones. He taught
us that making mistakes can sometimes lead to the best possible outcome, as
we follow our visions with confidence.
If you are not doing today what you want to be doing because you think you
lack confidence, it may be only the thought that is holding you back. Confidence
doesn’t come without first facing your fear about something or of the unknown.
You face whatever it is that is unfamiliar or that frightens you, and then do it anyway.
How many excellent public speakers started out with confidence? Not many.
Most started out terrified and went on to speak in front of an audience anyway.
As a young man in England, Gandhi was elected to the Executive Committee
of the Vegetarian Society and attended all of the meetings – but he was tonguetied.
He once wanted to address an important topic that was coming up so he
wrote notes that he could read. When the time came he couldn’t bring himself to
even read what he had written, and had it read by someone else. In any social setting,
the presence of half a dozen people or more would strike him speechless.
After studying law he found that he was good at gathering facts but was hesitant
at his ability to present them. When he got up the courage to take a case (because
he needed the money) he made his debut in small claims court, where he had to crossexamine witnesses. His mind went blank and he could think of no questions to ask.
He resigned on the spot. Yet he came to find his confidence and he certainly found
his vision. He later said, “Beyond occasionally exposing me to laughter, my
constitutional shyness has been no disadvantage whatsoever. In fact I can see that,
on the contrary, it has been all to my advantage.
Its greatest benefit has been that it has taught me the economy of word. It has
allowed me to grow. It has helped me in my discernment of truth.” Gandhi, admittedly
shy, had no confidence in his ability to communicate his thoughts, yet he forged
ahead and not only changed a nation, but continues after his death to inspire millions.
When you face your fears you realize that your catastrophic expectations don’t come to pass.
But it didn’t happen. And when you make it through some difficult situation you
start to trust that you can do it again – and again. It may not be easy, but then it may
be easier than you think. Your reactions to the experiences of life are determined
by your thinking, which you can change. “Yes, I’m scared. But I can do this.”
You have the creative ability to build confidence and vision into every area of
life. Everything exists in the mind first and then comes into being through action.
What motivates you and fills you with enthusiasm? What do you love? You can look
at this question in regard to what you do for your living, the kind of relationships
you would like to have, where you would like to live, what kind of environment you
would like to live in, what inspires you, what do you do that inspires or serves
others, and so on. Every day you can do something – take one step – in one or more
areas of your life to move closer to your visions, growing in confidence as you do so.
What we focus on we tend to manifest, and as we resolve to move toward the things we love the universe begins to move with us – and may even add magical
dimensions to our vision of what can be. As Saint Francis said, “Start by doing
what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
Cheryl Canfield is author of the book, Profound healing: The Power of Acceptance on the
Path to Wellness. She is a Life and Wellness Counselor and Clinical Hypnotherapist in Napa, and instructor at the Hypnotherapy Training Institute in Corte Madera. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: www.profoundhealing.com