I saw this quote two days ago by Lao Tzu and have not been able to stop looking at it. I am struck by its simplicity and its absolute relevance to my world this week. I have read it over and again, rolling the words around my tongue like a cherished red sweet whilst I pondered it in the light of stories and some wonderful advice given to me just the other day.
I have been graced with these stories by strong and beautiful women in my life this week; privileged that they let me into the world and shared their darkest moments, the fears they hold within their hearts and how they found ways to forgive and love again. I will carry those moments with me quietly to my end but what I can say is this: These stories involved emotional and physical pain that was inflicted by hands that should have cherished and loved these women. Hands that should have brought comfort and warmth, strength and love yet they brought tears, fear, physical injuries and long-lasting emotional turmoil.
It is not mine to judge the circumstances that brought about such destruction in their lives, not mine to do anything other than listen and be humbled by their extraordinary courage. The courage that one lady nurtured in order to survive and the courage it has taken another lady to admit she needs help and begin to walk the steps of her journey into a brighter future.
What struck me about both stories was how the beliefs these people hold about themselves have been, and continue to be, the keys to their freedom
How yet again I have been given a reminder that it is self-esteem and self-love or lack of them that defines so much about how one interacts with others, reacts to circumstance and ultimately finds inner peace and contentment in this crazy time we live in.
The world around us is truly a mirror of every belief held within. If you hold painful and negative beliefs about yourself as a chain around your heart, then you will find the world treats you according to this. This is so fundamental I wish I could shout it out and it is true to every single one of us.
If you believe you do not deserve to be loved, that your opinions matter no more than the delicate and easily lost seeds from a passing dandelion clock, then those around you will reflect that belief back to you
You will find yourself accepting being treated poorly, spoken to rudely, perhaps even emotional and physically hurt. Your heart and dreams will wither away slowly from lack of love and belief. And the saddest part of this? That such treatment will ultimately reinforce those beliefs within. Like a film reel on repeat this old cycle will just keep on going until you step back, bring about the awareness to understand what your own self-limiting beliefs are and make a change. It will keep on playing until you do something to set yourself free of your own mind.
But the beauty of is that by understanding this pattern and changing your beliefs about yourself you can change the world around you
The reflection back upon you can be filled with happiness, laughter, support and unconditional love the moment you nurture those qualities from within your own heart for you. All you need to do is step back and ask yourself one tiny little question:
What are my negative and limiting beliefs about myself?
Be honest, you don’t need to tell anyone the answers. Make a note of them in your journal with that favourite coloured pen of yours. Spend some time delving into the dusty corners of your mind and find out what beliefs you hold in there. Don’t judge them, don’t ask why and don’t dismiss anything. Just let them exist, acknowledge them and write it all down. I believe the moment you have that awareness is the moment you can begin to make positive change. You can begin to do whatever it is that will make you sweep away those dusty old beliefs until they are gone. By acknowledging those beliefs they lose their power and mysterious hold on you. By being aware of when they come into play as you interact with other people and circumstance you can make a choice as to whether you continue to live by your old negative beliefs and react as per the mental film reel on repeat. Or whether you stop and say:
No more will I do this. I choose to respond differently with self-love and positive beliefs about me at my core
And it gets even better than just using mental awareness to make change. By doing the things that you love in life, the things that make you feel good about who you are you get to create new positive self-beliefs without even knowing you are doing so. You are having fun and gaining confidence whilst nurturing and growing new beliefs all at the same time. I wholeheartedly encourage my mind to get busy with having some fun with that. Not only can a mind sweep out the dusty old corners but it can fill itself with sunshine and laughter instead for a rainy day.
So what of the stories I was told?
They are perfect examples of how self-belief has been instrumental in making significant positive changes in life. One of the women has been to hell and back in her younger years with more physical and emotional pain inflicted by loved ones than I can begin to imagine yet she still believes in her worth and who she is as an adult. Not only has she found a way to forgive the hands that hurt her but she knows that she deserves love, deserves to be treated well and will not settle for anything less. Of course she carries her hurt and regrets just like the rest of us and she no doubt feels her grief and loss. But she is kind and open hearted, strong and beautiful and she didn’t allow herself to cave in and believe she was worthless in the face of hardship. Her positive self-beliefs quite possibly saved her life at times and they certainly continue to help her blossom and live a life filled with happiness as she chases her dreams. She has created a world where she is surrounded by people that genuinely care for and adore her.
As for the other lady, she is at the start of such a journey and I can only hope and pray for her. Hope that she finds the courage to start to believe in who she is; looks in the mirror and questions how her self-beliefs may be contributing to the painful and abusive situation she finds herself in right now. She is an incredible woman and it defies logic that she is in such a sad chapter of her life. She is intelligent, funny, talented, driven, open-hearted and more. I know she has begun to see this within herself as she has already admitted the dreadful situation she finds herself in. She has waved a flag for help and that alone takes a huge amount of courage and vulnerability. Please keep waving that flag lady, look inside and know you deserve more than this. For the love of yourself start taking steps to walk away from that pain and start dusting out the negative beliefs and find the good in you. You are worth so much more than this and you can be the one to make that change. In the words of Lao Tzu:
Truly the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation