You are the most talented, most interesting, and most extraordinary person in the universe. And you are capable of amazing things. Because you are the Special. And so am I. And so is everyone.
The Power of Belief
Warning: "The Lego Movie" spoilers below. But it's was so awesome that you probably already saw it. Right?
"Believe in yourself" is an old adage you've likely heard a million times in your life. My favorite recent use of it is in "The Lego Movie". In the movie, the main character Emmet finds an ancient relic called the "Piece of Resistance" and becomes attached to it.
Because of this Emmet is believed to be the chosen one. Referred to as the "The Special", he's the master builder foretold in an ancient prophecy who will defeat Lord Business and bring peace to the Lego universe.
But just before discovering that he's the prophesized chosen one, Emmet's faced with the depressing realization that everyone around him sees him as a "nobody" and that he essentially has no special traits, skills, or talents. Once things get going, though, Emmet realizes his potential and comes up with a number of great ideas which help the protagonist group make advances towards defeating Lord Business.
That's when Emmet finds out that *Super Spoiler Alert* the prophecy that foretold of the chosen one was really just made up. Emmet's then once again faced with the realization that he's a nobody and that he never really had special powers or was some magical chosen one.
But when he realizes that everyone is still depending on him to save them he conjures up what courage he has left and, as a result, is led on a crazy journey that eventually helps him discover his ultimate potential and come to the realization that he's not the special, everyone is the special. Everyone has the ability to do amazing things if they only believe in themselves.
The movie's major message is that belief in oneself is the key to accomplishing great feats and that we can develop belief in ourselves by realizing that we all have the same special potential.
A healthy spiritual practice, one which nourishes your mind and body and helps you cultivate peace and happiness, requires introspection. This is one of the major purposes of mindfulness. We can use mindfulness in order to look within ourselves and find the cause of our ill-being or suffering. And one of the ways we often suffer is through uncertainty. Uncertainty in ourselves and uncertainty in our life path.
Many of us are too uncertain of ourselves or our direction in life to get anywhere or do anything. This lack of belief in ourselves and in anything else for that matter keeps us frozen in place.
But worse, life itself is always moving. It's constantly changing. So while we've frozen in place, because the rest of the world is moving without us, we're not staying in the same place. We're slowing falling. Life comes and goes in an instant. And if we aren't taking positive action towards nurturing our well-being then the opposite is occurring- our well-being is slowly degrading.
Where does belief in oneself come from? Where does a lack of belief in oneself come from? How do you overcome a lack of belief in yourself? What does it mean to believe in something? Is it important to believe in something outside of yourself? What's the point? These are questions I've asked myself in the past.
We don't believe in ourselves or in our life path. We're uncertain of what we want to do, what we're supposed to do, and we don't think we're good enough. This is the story for so many of us and for many this story is played out until the day that it's too late.
If we could only cultivate true self-confidence or self-belief. A self-belief that comes from the right place, as opposed a false sense of confidence or power due to having money, possessions, or power over people, then we could do so much. We could do amazing things. If we only open ourselves up to the canvas that is life we can paint a beautiful picture. A picture that people for years will come to see and be inspired by. But that then still begs the question, how do we actually cultivate belief in ourselves?
How to Cultivate Self-Confidence
There are two ways I'm going to cover that allow you to develop belief in yourself. Keep in mind that this list is in no way exhaustive. These are simply two of many different ways to build belief in both yourself and in your life path. These are two of the most powerful ways available to us.
Also keep in mind that the second point is intended to go straight to the heart of where belief in ourselves really comes from in order to develop a healthy self-belief as well as gain clarity in your life path.
1. Developing belief in yourself through the path of progressive accomplishments
The first, the path of progressive accomplishments. This little technique teaches you the value of simply taking action, however small, and it works as a sort of "spark plug" for the rest of your life.
The path of progressive accomplishments is about starting small and moving up gradually. Pick something small which you've been putting off. Maybe something you've had sitting on your to-do list for a while. Making a phone call, talking to someone in person, cleaning something up, scheduling something. Whatever it is, don't make it crazy. Pick something small that -this is key- you've been putting off.
Then, do it. Do it now. Literally. Stop reading. Get up and do that thing right now before you finish reading this post. Don't think. Stop thinking! GO!
OK, done? Good. That was the most important step of all, congratulations.
What's next? It's pretty simple. You can pick another thing today or take it slow and do one thing each day. The important point is that you build up. By that I mean if you're doing one thing each day then tomorrow, if possible, pick something a little harder than what you did today.
That won't always be possible, but it's OK. At least pick something of the same level as what you did yesterday whenever possible and build up from there.
You'll quickly run out of things you've put off, however, start with those first. Action already works as a spark plug for your life, but taking action on things you've put off for a while is like taking adrenaline. Not that you want to live your life jacked up like that, but putting yourself into such a state really builds self-belief and gives you the confidence to move onto bigger things.
That's the ultimate point of this exercise- to build your self-belief or self-confidence to the point where you realize that nothing can stand in your way. Nothing is too big. And that you're good enough.
Eventually, you'll want to move on from the things you started off with, such as calling someone you really didn't want to have to call and have put off, to submitting the information for your business license to get your dreams moving. It's not meant for you to stay focused on small tasks, even if those do a lot at first to build belief in yourself.
And remember: whatever it is, when you decide to do it then do it immediately. The more time that goes by the less likely you are to do that thing. The most important lesson of this exercise should be that action really sometimes needs to be taken with an empty mind.
If you've previously decided that it's the right thing to do then erase everything from your mind for a moment- literally, just blank out- get up, and start walking, talking, typing, or jumping into whatever it is.
2. Developing belief in yourself through developing belief in some thing
Depending on your beliefs, this one might sound a little funny. How do you cultivate belief in yourself through believing in something other than yourself?
But for many, it's the belief or faith in something greater than themselves that is the very thing which gives them confidence. By knowing that they're part of something larger and that everyone else comes from and returns to the same source, they know that they're just as special and capable as anyone else.
No matter what your spiritual or religious affiliation is, belief or faith in something greater than yourself which you yourself are intrinsically connected to instills in you the feeling that you're worthy. And the foundation of belief in ourselves is the belief that we're worthy.
My favorite example is that of a wave. Imagine waves rolling through the ocean. In this reality, the one we can all physically touch, we appear as waves. Each of us is a physically separate wave. If I'm a wave then I can see and recognize the wave in front of and behind me as separate from myself. But we aren't just waves. At the very ground of our being, the ultimate reality, we exist as water. And, in this vast body of water, we exist as one.
There is no separating the water of one wave and another. They're the same body of water.
Knowing this, you can draw confidence from the fact that within you is a great power. The entire universe is within you. All the great teachings of the universe and the ultimate potential are within you.
But you have to practice to not only become mindful but to stay mindful of this truth. If you don't keep a consistent and healthy practice then you'll just forget about it altogether and become disconnected. You can only draw from this as a source of power if you stay constantly connected to it with a regular practice.
What does this actually look like when put into practice?If belief in yourself comes from believing that you're worthy, and believing that you're worthy can be discovered by coming in touch with the ultimate truth of our limitless potential, then through adopting a spiritual practice and living deeply in each moment of our lives we can realize this truth and instill belief in ourselves.
When you meet someone you admire, identify deep in yourself the same qualities as simply not yet having blossomed. When you go about your daily life, strive to see everything more deeply in order to become mindful of your interconnectedness and similarities. Living deeply means simply striving to see more than what's on the surface, so there are many ways to live more deeply and mindfully.
This type of belief in oneself takes longer to cultivate. But when built, it's like a fortress. Nothing can shake you. Nothing can turn you away from your intentions.
Be the Example
I wanted to end with a quick note. The world needs more people who believe in themselves and who are willing to stand up for what's good. Get out there and be the example. Strive to make a positive impact in the world. Let your practice be your guide and show others the way to peace and happiness by living it.
The world, more than ever, needs you to stand up and believe in not only yourself but in something greater than yourself. Use you skills and talents to make a difference. Whatever you've got, use it. You might think you don't matter, but that couldn't be further from the truth.
The world changes when people stand up and take action. You have the ability to do so as much as anyone else. Why? Because more than money, more than power, and more than luck, belief is what matters. Belief in yourself to create positive change and belief in something greater which empowers you and connects you to the world around you.
Vitruvius: Emmet, you didn't let me finish earlier...because I died. The reason I made up the prophecy was because I knew that whoever found the Piece of Resistance could become the Special. Because the only thing anyone needs to be special is to believe that you can be. I know that sounds like a cat poster, but it's true. Look at what you did when you believed you were special. You just need to believe it some more.
Emmet: But how can I just decide to believe that I'm special, when I'm not?
Vitruvius: Because the world depends on it.