Over at Peter's monkey mind today, he asks the question, why do we continue to tell ourselves stories that are unhelpful and unkind, stories that perhaps have been told to us or we have come to believe on our own.
In the west it seems our habit is to find ourselves lacking; never quite measuring up. It is the rare bird that appreciates their strengths and exudes a healthy self confidence (as opposed to a puffed up ego based confidence). When the Dalai Lama was once asked about how to deal with feelings of self loathing, he required a lengthy explanation of what that was. When he finally understood what was meant, he emphatically said something like, "No, this is wrong," quite forcefully. Such feelings apparently don't exist in Tibetan culture.
There are many teachers that remind us of how important a healthy self confidence is (Tarthang Tulku, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche). But I hear you wondering out loud about this, "so if there is no self, (which is one of the tenets of Buddhism) what's this about becoming self confident? So in my understanding of the examination of self, it is not that "self" doesn't exist at all, but that it is not fixed and is always moving and changing, and so doesn't exist in any inherent or fixed way. And on the way to our personal discovery of this ethereal, flimsy, hole filled self, we need to have confidence in the little self, the every day person. We need to nourish this being that navigates the world, to give our being the courage and enthusiasm for this life and our practice, so that we can wake up and contribute to this world in helpful and meaningful ways.
Our job is to wake up and use our gifts fully because no one has the gifts you have and can offer to the world in your unique and interesting way. This is self confidence, the ability to see clearly, to keep on keeping on, and to have faith in our lives and those around us. We are here to join hands in this human journey and pull each other up when we need pulling and offer a hand to dance sometimes.
So, it is Spring, a time of new beginnings, a good time to nourish the seeds of new habits. This unruly mind needs weeding and then the planting of wholesome crops. So why not look inside and discover the riches there. Begin each day by telling yourself about them. Encourage yourself, offer uplifting words to yourself and you may find the well filling up and spilling out in to the world in ways that cultivate growth and nourish in weird and wonderful manners. And please, don't forget to put me on your dance card.