Bite-sized Wisdom: Keller

Doubt sneaking in? Remember that you have a powerful tool at hand that is ready to go into action for you at any time. Words from this wise and empowering woman:

imagine

Doubt and mistrust are the mere panic of timid imagination, which the steadfast heart will conquer, and the large mind transcend.

– Helen Keller


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Being An Amalgam of Those Around You Doesn’t Mean You Can’t Still Be You

An identity is not a solid thing
Made of unchangeable cogs and metal parts.
Trade in the pieces that no longer serve you
And recycle the forgotten strains,
Old portions of yourself once tossed away in exasperation
When others insisted that they knew the best way for you to be.

Though the crowd may cry “what joy in excess!”
And collect toys, hard-earned, to fill homes and bring solace,
Have strength enough to break away.
As hushed voices trade phrases dripped  in oil,
Jabber slick with toxins and edges sharp enough to break the skin,
Converse with words of thicker substance.
And when doubt creeps in, after another leaves the door open,
or because you dabbled in man-made monsters,
Kindly usher it out and begin again.

Image of the work of Pakistani artist Khalil Chishtee 

How to Be Kind to Yourself

We’re all guilty of it. Self-sabotage is one of the easiest games in the book. We reprimand ourselves for embarrassments long gone by or tell our instinct to hush up because we “couldn’t possibly be right.” We come upon an idea and as soon as it begins to take shape, we shoot it down because of a fear of reproach, inability to follow through, potential reactions from those around us, the list goes on. But how to escape this recursive cycle of not-so-supportive thoughts? The first step is to recognize that two little voices are competing for stage time in your head: that of a dreamer and that of a downer. The trick is to be able to distinguish which voice has the mic when the self-talk starts up and to learn how to balance this duality.

The Downer Voice

It is important to see that the “downer voice” is not a bad one. Its job is self-preservation. It’s seen every misstep you’ve made in the past and wants to avoid any and all conflict. It would prefer that you stay static if it means that you’re free from the possibility of being hurt. Its voice is one rooted in fear and doubt, but it is a sensitive realist at heart. This sensitivity to pain is key. If your self-talk is filled with anger (e.g. “how could I do such a stupid thing?!”) check in and see if that lil guy is actually sad about the situation (e.g. “I really wanted to do that well. Now they all think I’m foolish”). Sadness is like a slip-n-slide ride down to anger. Be careful you don’t water the slide if you don’t want to wind up at the end of it.

The Dreamer Voice

An eternal optimist, the “dreamer voice” wants the world for you. It would love to see you enjoy every little bit of your life. It does not know fear. It remembers pain but doesn’t harbor on it. Sometimes it stays quiet – it’s obedient, child-like. So if you shush it, it’s liable to stay mute until you allow it to speak again. It’s the part of you that gets excited about ideas and knows how to get back up after a fall. Let it play every once in a while to replenish your energy when reserves are low.

Striking the Balance

Let the dreamer reach out to the downer when it starts to scream for attention. The downer brings up concerns that the dreamer can address. Where one sees problems, the other finds possibilities. Allow the dreamer to work in tandem with the other voice, not against it. Instead of ignoring the murmurs of the sensitive one, accept the fears that it brings up and choose to face them proudly. Invite the idealist out again if its been a while since last you spoke. Let it put a little love in your heart.

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Have to Let Yourself Down in Order to Rise Up

As you sit suspended, halfway between a thought and a feeling,

You keep your eyes level, unwilling to let your glance take in the depth below you.

You fear that its chill may stall you, its bottomless shadows may swallow you whole,

So you dangle midair above its vastness.

Easy to return, you think, but you’ve come this far.

Echos of “I can’t” seem deafening although no one speaks.

But as you breathe you find a new reserve –

A hidden store of courage, tucked away behind doubt and worry.

You inch yourself down into the darkness and take in its musk

You fill your lungs with all the things that scared you and plunge deeper into the crevasse.

And even as your feet find their footing beneath you, your eyes can still find the light above.

No unhappy end, just newfound fearlessness that propels you up again.

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Creativity: Our Natural State

Welcome back to the week folks. Here’s a little something to ease you into your Monday:  a wonderful reminder from Jonah Lehrer that our decisions profoundly affect those around us, even down to the smallest detail. Are you allowing yourself to be as creative as you can be?

As a kid, I remember relishing the times when we were allowed to draw in class. However, I distinctly recall the teacher coming by during this free art time to suggest colors to use or remind us that the “picture might look better if we stayed inside the lines.” I would comply, but as soon as I was home, I’d pour all of my crayons and pencils out onto the floor and see what would happen if I made a tree blue, or created my own shapes that I could color in with whatever hue suited my eye. After years of normative judgments on similar creative pursuits, we learn the safe and correct way to accomplish an “artistic” goal. But since when do the terms “safe” or “correct” belong in this creative realm?

We often stunt ourselves and ideas, or feverishly search for obstacles, or make some half-hearted excuse as to why we should not express ourselves to the fullest extent. Perhaps it’s more likely that we’re afraid of all that we’re capable of doing than of the challenges themselves. Doubt is the ultimate assassin – of dreams, of  relationships, of aspirations – but it doesn’t mean we have to submit to it. Next time you sense it sneaking into your thoughts, think creatively. There is rarely one correct way to do something, so no harm in challenging yourself to find an alternative avenue or two.