When I was 14, I would look in the mirror, with enormous hate and disgust, and feel ashamed of what I saw. All I could see, was a spotty-round-faced girl, whom no-one would ever notice. I had no confidence, no self-worth, nor the courage to know better. I was certain that I was doomed to a life mediocre.
Now, I realise this behaviour wasn’t innate. Or natural. As I then, thought.
My mother was the perfect role-model of self-hate: always looking at herself in the mirror with aversion, and starving herself under the guise of “healthy diets” until her ribs poked out. Plagued with guilt, remorse and anxiety, she was a walking shadow of condemnation.
Life went on. I left home at 15 for a year. I came back for a year. I left again at 17. What I lacked in confidence and self-worth, I made up for in determination, bull-headed stubbornness, and hope.
Hope that, maybe one, life would be different. That I would be different.
I travelled the world. I went to university. I did the things that I thought would help. The things that I was “supposed” to do.
Then, when I was 23 I learned how to meditate.
I’d heard about meditation before, but dismissed it as something weird, that hippy-folk did. I was lying on my bed one day, not really thinking about anything, just lying there. When a relaxed feeling spread across my body, and I started to feel every cell, every part of me tingling with aliveness.
At the time, I didn’t know what it was, but it felt extraordinary.
What happened over the next few weeks, changed my life. I realised what it meant to have heartfelt, intrinsic confidence and courage. I felt beautiful for the first time in my life. I discovered an unwavering sense of self-worth. And not because I was perfect, or better, or different.
Because I learnt to completely accept myself. And this depth of acceptance translated into a love so deep, it was cellular. And beyond. It was spiritual.
Heartfelt courage and confidence. Want a boost? Here is what I learned.
Start by going within.
Meditation is giving yourself permission to slow down and simply be. From that space of presence, space and time expands. A space between yourself and your thoughts emerges, and it is in that space — that nothingness — a connection to something greater appears.
Meditation is a personal thing. You don’t have to sit in some special four-leaf-clover position to do it. For me, it happens the best when I am laying down, flat on my back, legs and arms stretched out with my palms up. Or walking. Slowly.
When I began meditating, at 23, what happened was that, for the first time in my life, I could see how destructive my thought patterns were. And that my thoughts and me, were not one and the same thing. I am. That is all. This took me down the road of forgiveness.
When I realised how violent and hostile I had been to myself, for my entire life, I broke down and cried. I cried for the harshness of my thoughts, the distinct lack of self-love, the cataclysmic way I shot myself down, every day, over and over again. I’m horrified when I think back to that time. It feels like a very long-ago past life.
I then systematically forgave myself. I allowed the memories and thoughts to come back into my mind, and as they appeared, one by one, I felt compassion and forgiveness for myself. I did this for hours until I felt it was all gone.
Followed by forgiving those who had taught me these noxious habits. I recognised that they knew no better. And thanked them for teaching me the depths of pain, so I could rise, and make new choices.
It was when I decided to devote my thoughts to loving kindness, that I really, truly felt confident and courageous.
Every time I caught myself thinking something self-depreciating, I would stop myself mid-thought, and drop it immediately. I would leave that space empty. And instead connect within, a little bit deeper. Loving thoughts became predominant. I stopped caring what people thought about me. For the first time in my life, I felt deeply content.
Being 100% devoted to me, meant that I could shine my light, in my fullness of everything that I was. It meant that fear dissipated, because there was no room for it in that light. And being devoted to me, is akin to being devoted to the entire universe. As we are an extension of exactly that.
Many people believe that courage and confidence is an outside job. That it happens through success, attaining goals, receiving recognition from others, and fuelling needs and desires. As it turns out, however, those external examples of confidence and courage are insatiable. There is never enough success, money, recognition, sex, clothes etc. to keep you feeling full.
What you really need (and want) is an internal knowing of your limitless. That is where true confidence and courage stems from.
Image source: Tumbler.