If we lack confidence we cannot be humble. Humility requires us to own both what we can do and what we cannot do. This is the fulcrum that lies between the extremes of over-confident egotism and crippling insecurity—between bold pride and shameful hiding. So the world was never asking you to be perfect. But it does want you to contribute and you have much more to contribute than you currently imagine.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a street person tortured by an addiction, a worker in a company where you feel tortured by the meaninglessness of your work, if you’re an artist tortured by a creative block or an athlete who is in a torturous slump because you can’t find your groove—each of these states emerges because we have impaired ourselves. As we encounter normal hurdles and challenges and statistically anomalies it is easy to forget that absolutely everyone encounters these times in their life.
Nelson Mandela spent 27 years in jail, the Dalai Lama had to flee his own country and behind every business and sports success there are countless failures that those people pushed their way through to get to where you chose to notice them. But do not doubt that they too have had their hard times. Times where they felt they could not go on. And during those times we will all be inclined to start using limiting, self-defining language that talks more about what we can’t do that what we can do. And the problem with that is you will be limited by the size of your self-image instead of growing into your much larger natural self. This is a moment by moment action, so it is time you learned to quell the language that shrinks you and live in a way that expands you in a rewarding way. Because the world needs you. You have much to offer. And the world wants it now.
Yes good marriages and space launches and rock concerts and cool jobs seem awesome and worthwhile, but in the end those people’s lives are more like yours than you can imagine. The people who are deemed “successes” in life aren’t smarter than you. At most they’ll prevent self-limiting internal conversations that would undermine their confidence. But they’ll still have their doubts their failures and their giant regrets. Accept those as some of the stones you must step on to cross the river of life. Because to not step on them is to not live at all.
Be kinder to yourself. Invest more time thinking about the daily impact you have. Because on your death bed you won’t be thinking about Michael Jackson or your favourite car or your smartest purchase. You’ll be thinking about the millions of little graces that people showed to you in your life. And it’s often when we’re down and out that those moments happen, so we should always be ready for positive input regardless of our circumstances.
Be certain: you are a good and meaningful person and the harder parts of your life have only served to increase your sensitivities. Our challenging experiences provide us with a greater ability to respond to situations proactively and with genuine and meaningful empathy. You have strengths that others do not have. And your limiting thinking is exactly that—just thinking. So why is the real you being held back by ropes made of thinking that only exist inside the head of the real you? That’s you. Don’t you get it? Don’t do that to yourself. And don’t stop beating yourself up because it’s bad for you. Stop doing it because it prevents the greatness in you from emerging and the rest of us could really make good use of that greatness. So no more trying not-to-be-bad. Be great instead.
Remember: humility isn’t shyness or hiding your skills. It includes offering yourself, your labour, your mind and your resources toward life—toward moving life forward. Not just yours. But life in general, because the barriers between things only exist in our minds. And so by serving others we serve ourselves. We need only get in touch with the fact that we all have so much to give.