NEVER Say This to Yourself
Confidence comes with maturity, being more accepting of yourself.
I never understood the damage that my self-reflection was doing to me. It took me a long time to detect it. The narrative that was playing in my head was keeping me from living the life that I wanted.
I grew up in the working class poor. And at one point in my life, I was below the poverty level. Being in poverty can do some brutal things to your self-confidence. I remember the shame that flushed my face every time I used food stamps. Back then they gave you this paper money that looked like something out of a Monopoly board game. And people stared.
I developed this tough exterior to survive. And I told myself, "One day, I am going to be SOMEBODY."
Well, that tag-line sounds good. But what I know now that I did not know or understand then is that this using this phrase - "one day I will be SOMEBODY" - is rooted in a defeatist mentality that makes me a victim.
It caused me to set out to "prove myself." And prove myself I did. I climbed out of poverty to land solidly in the middle-class with my family in tow.
The problem was this: I was now ADDICTED to proving myself. And the addiction was strong. Never say to Rebecca "You can't do that." Oh yeah? "Watch me" was my reply.
Now there is nothing wrong with accepting a challenge. In fact, I highly recommend doing that. You will never succeed in life without facing your fears, foes, and challenges.
But consistently chasing after EVERYTHING and anything that will PROVE to THEM you are SOMEBODY will leave you exhausted, burned out, and spinning your wheels getting nowhere. Ask me how I know this!
My epiphany came when I hired a coach to help me with some career moves in the late 1990's. I was ready to PROVE myself. We were in a session one day and I was going on and on about how I was being disrespected and ignored. I told her about how hard I was working (at the time 50 to 60 hour workweeks). This was on top of numerous personal commitments to my church. On top of that and what I didn't tell her was that I was struggling to balance it all.
She listened patiently as I poured my heart out. And with the most compassionate face, she looked at me and said these words: "What are you trying to prove?"
You could have knocked me over with a feather. She stopped me cold. I had no answer for that.
I wish that I could say I instantly came to the realization of what was really going on inside of my head. It was almost a decade later that I finally found the answer to this question that kept haunting me. "What are you trying to prove?"
I had a narrative in my head playing that said "You are going to be SOMEBODY one day."
Beloveds, let me tell you. Money doesn't make you SOMEBODY. Positions of authority don't make you SOMEBODY. Titles don't make you SOMEBODY. Having the right connections doesn't make you SOMEBODY. Driving the perfect car, living in the perfect house, and having the perfect family doesn't make you SOMEBODY.
You have to accept that you are SOMEBODY right now, right where you are, no matter what your situation.
Knowing and understanding your worth is the FIRST step you must take on your road to your destiny. It is not a future destination. It is a right now decision!
My freedom came through a young man over a decade later that entered my life most unexpectedly. Hubby and I were therapeutic foster care parents targeting older children. We received a call one day for an 8-year old autistic boy who needed care for a few weeks. I will call him Joe.
Joe was very special. His vocabulary was extremely limited and he had a hard time following instructions. He was easily distracted and hated surprises. I found out in my research of autism that these are typical behaviors of children with severe autism.
He had this white tube sock that he carried with him every where that he went. And he could do the most amazing tricks with that tube sock. He would hold one end in one hand and pull the sock through his other hand with a loud SNAP. It was the most amazing thing to watch.
But what I really want to tell you about Joe is his favorite song. It was Israel Houghton's "I Know Who I Am." If you ever wanted to see Joe's face light up, all you had to do was put that song on and turn up the volume. His head would bop around as he sang at the top of his lungs "I know who I am! I know who I am!"
One day as I was watching him enjoy his favorite song, it dawned on me. Joe had something that I didn't. This little boy understood something that all my smartness had not revealed to me.
When you know and understand who you are and WHOSE you are, you are not confused about your own identity. Your identity is NOT in somebody else's view of who you are.
You have to know who you are separate from people.
It took me a few more years to heal to the place that I could truly say "I know who I am."
When people would criticize me or point out my flaws, it used to anger me.
Now, I say "I know who I am." And I LAUGH. Because it doesn't matter.
As long as I know who I am, your commentary about doesn't matter.
And that, my friend, is true FREEDOM.
Do you know who you are?