sex, money, and miscellany: talking about what matters

I believe

In Uncategorized on August 20, 2009 at 6:00 am

it’s important to believe in yourself. If you grew up in the US, you’ve gotten some version of that message over and over again, and according to experts it will do everything for you. Only of course we all know it won’t.

What it will do is make you available to other people. If you believe you have nothing to offer the world then you close down. You make the choice for everyone else: don’t bother asking me for my gifts, because I don’t have anything to share.

Wait a minute. Seriously? Nothing?

Try this: make a list of fifty things you can do. They can be obvious, they can be simple, they can be biological, even.

Now make a list of five ways each of those fifty things could be a gift. For example, if you can eat, you can offer people feedback on their cooking. If you can be honest, you can offer people .honest. feedback. Give it a try. Fifty things. Five ways. I’ll wait.

Okay. Now go back to the question of belief. Do you believe in yourself? Do you see your gifts? This is work that takes practice, because it’s flaccid and rubbery without practice. No practice means that it bends over the minute someone suggests that maybe you could do better, or maybe they’re better than you. Not helpful.

Post your list of fifty things somewhere visible. Add to it as necessary. Spend at least five minutes a day with your list. Let it sink into your soul. You have gifts to give the world. Get ready. Get set. Go.

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  1. The exercise you describe above reminds me of an exercise taught in permaculture design classes, where you list all the inputs and outputs of a particular element of your design, usually a chicken, and decide where to put it based on where it can most easily get its inputs and where its outputs will be most valuable. The exercise helps you to realize that nothing is independent, that the cost vs. benefit of keeping chickens (or whatever) are determined largely by their interactions with other elements in the design. Chickens well placed are an asset; chickens poorly placed are a neverending chore.

    Of course that’s true of us, as well, and your exercise points that out… listing your gifts can help one find one’s proper place in the grand design we are all designing together.

    The tie-in to self-esteem (believing in oneself) is less obvious; I think you may need to flesh it out some more. Sure, if you can eat or listen you can provide feedback, but *tact* is a whole other skill set which does not come naturally to some of us. If tact is not one of your skills, you may be better off giving your feedback to market researchers instead of friends!

    It seems to me that self-esteem is tied to belonging and acceptance. For me, a major breakthrough was realizing that I belong and am accepted in the natural world (on account of my interdependence with it), and social situations are just a subset of the natural world, so I belong there by right whether or not the other apes around me recognize it! That gave me self-confidence which was self-fulfilling, and before I knew it the other apes did recognize that I belonged. There may also have been some tact involved.

    Your mileage may vary!

  2. I think that self-esteem is tied to having something to offer, too–and that’s where every skill you have becomes a potential offering. That’s all I was getting at.

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