I first discovered I was going to be taking the stage to talk about Finding Self-Love (at last month’s Mind Body Spirit Festival in London- pictured here), just when I was coming through a storm of self-criticism. I’ve been teaching this stuff long enough to know better – but here I was, being tested. Rather than laugh at the irony (though I did that, too) – I immediately paid attention. In fact, the invitation itself snapped me out of whatever was bothering me. After all, Life clearly believed in me to be the best person to talk about self-love – and in a split second, I did too. I was “back”, so to speak.
And this is the thing: self-love or self-confidence is not a permanent state we get to and then stay there, but a state like a radio channel, which always exists, and we can tune in and out of. Nothing has gone wrong if we find ourselves temporarily “tuned out”, as I did. In fact, it is these deviations from connection which evolve us much like the tension of lifting weights at the gym evolves our body. I was the best person to take the stage and talk about self-love because of this moment of disconnection, not in spite of it; and also because I understand that it is in the less-that-self-confident moments that the most powerful states of self-confidence are created.
Practice, not perfection
I’m way past the point of condemning myself for “being human”. Even the great mystics of the past were allowed to mess up, and were open about this in their brilliant writings, so surely I’m allowed to. They understood what so much of the new age movement doesn’t – that the human journey is about stumbling, learning, evolving, and getting up again stronger. The mystic Teresa of Avila, for example, made it clear that the spiritual journey is about practice, not perfection – it’s not this “happy all the time” nonsense that the contemporary spirituality often professes. And trust me, I’ve seen a lot of fellow teachers off stage and let’s just say anyone can appear perfect for a brief talk or a 2-hour workshop, if that’s your intention.
Now there are some great teachers out there, don’t get me wrong – but you get my point. And here’s the thing (and they’d agree with me): changing your thoughts and changing your life is not like changing your socks – the human mind just doesn’t work like that. Those “Don’t worry be happy” quotes are fine when you’re happy – and downright infuriating and useless when you’re not. They didn’t work for me, and in the early days, I thought there was something wrong with me because this kind of bumper sticker spirituality wasn’t working. But then, several years ago, I began teaching groups and realised it was the same for almost everyone I met. Life – and humans – are not as simple as these “five easy steps”. It’s much more interesting than this, with way more depth.
Finding Love within
We are never looking for anything out there- we think we are but we’re not. What we are looking for is an internal shift – from the static of overthinking to the power of our Real Self. The answers really are within. It may look like you need something out there, but that is part of the world’s training, to make you think you are not enough and you “need” something out there to complete you. The good news is, once you give yourself the quality you are looking for “out there” – then you attract that likeminded quality to you, because you don’t get what you want, but what you are. When you find self-love, life will mirror back this self-confidence – which occurs as all your dreams coming true.
Confidence is everything
We all know that confidence is everything, right? Talent is always good – but far more important than talent is how talented you feel you are. Everyone agrees with how important self-confidence or self-love is, but people often stop at that point, not doing what it takes to embody it and move this theory into practical change. Who you really are is always in the state of self-confidence, so it’s less about building it up and more about revealing it.
We are all God’s gift- but do we know it?
People who feel they are “it” usually are, in some way or other. I’m not talking about delusion – like those guys you see on the X-Factor who are clearly not very good singers but seemingly think they are. In truth, they know they can’t sing. And that is why we are perceiving them as such.
Confidence and it’s counterpart: Insecurity
When you begin to train yourself into feeling more self-confidence or self-love, you’re probably going to experience it’s opposite, as your lower self mind rears up for a challenge. Keep going anyway. If you fall, get up as quickly as you can (though it’s fine and perfect ok if you ‘stay down’ for a bit).
When you start something new – firstly, well done. And secondly, you’re going to get some obstacles, for two reasons:
- Think of riding a bike. If you didn’t begin, you would have no risk of falling off, which is kind of inevitable – so having some resistance to leaving your comfort zone is bound to happen
- You actually need these trials to strengthen the muscle.
Welcome the obstacles in – they are going to happen, don’t be surprised when they do. Just as you are not surprised when your muscles tense at a weight at the gym.
You may want to collapse on the ground when you face an obstacle, but think about it. A toddler falls of his bike and gets back up as quickly as possible. If he didn’t get back on pretty quick – he’d probably never back back on again. So you’ve got to be quick – stand up tall and walk in, even if you don’t feel like it. And guess what- you almost definitely won’t feel like it.
This is what I was talking about at the beginning of the article, my drop into self-criticism didn’t phase me, as I knew it was a “hardcore workout” to prepare me for life – and the making of the very talk on self-love I presented (which I was told was a great success). There is nothing wrong with going into self attack, it’s not “negative” – it’s what evolves us.
Once the neediness is burned off, all that is left is the most attractive state of all: self-confidence. The irony is that in this state of self-confidence, you need nothing to complete you because you already feel whole, complete and fulfilled. And that’s when you get everything.