What happens when someone tells you that you are not good enough?
Do you give yourself the permission to listen to what they’re saying and stop trying?
Or would you walk away and choose to follow your way?
Have you ever felt dejected, frustrated or irritated when someone doubted you or your ability to do something? Especially when they are someone close to you, someone who know you well or even someone you trusted so much?
And what makes it feel worse is when their advice are without ill-intentions and they genuinely have your best interests at heart.
There are many voices out there that will try to limit you. Especially in the Asian culture. Parents would rush to grab hold of their toddlers before they fall when they are learning to walk. Children are sheltered from making wrong choices with paths that have already been crafted out for them since young, whether they like it or not. Adults play safe in their careers and do only what is in their scope for fear of screwing up.
When we step out of the shelters, where the storms are, that’s when we learn to pick up some of the toughest lessons life has to teach us.
Completing Simple Challenges
Recently, I gained massive satisfaction from attempting my mini-challenges, making and crafting some stuffs on my own such as making my very first hammock, made and installed my wall book shelf and other simple furniture, changed door knobs and a few more. There were also other aspects of life simple matters that I learned along the way, such as learning to cook better and quicker, changing engine oil and indulging in watercolour and brush lettering. Simple and straightforward stuffs, right? Not exactly.
As I picked up DIY crafts, woodworking and went about with house renovations, there were a few obstacles when I had to learn how to do them. On more than a few occasions, I was told to leave what I was doing and let someone else do if for me.
Better don’t drill first, you don’t know what’s behind the wall. What if you drilled into the electrical wirings?
You don’t know how, let me do it for you when I’m free or ask someone else to do it for you.
What if you fail? What if you damaged it? What if you hurt yourself?
In the past, I would have felt ‘privileged’ and ‘doted on’ if any of my family members offer to do the tough work for me. However, over time, I realized that I was doing myself injustice when I don’t go hands-on myself.
After a few ‘persuasions’, I started feeling not only defeated but I was also frustrated even though these concerns and advice were with good intention. Not only did these ‘advice’ demoralized me especially when I was determined to try, learn and do something new, they also made me felt less useful and more reliant on others to do something for me and that I was not capable of doing anything on my own. I felt belittled and also judged because these concerns were from people who genuinely care about me. I had felt bad for not feeling appreciative of their concerns but I was also aware of my own emotions and what I wanted for myself.
If it was a previous version of me, I might have put down the tools and wait for help to come around. But no, this time round, I was determined to learn how to do it myself.
When you listen to negative voices that try to limit you, the willpower in you diminishes each time and the fire in you gets dimmer and dimmer until you give up on trying, IF you let them.
How Negativity in Small Routine Activities Affect Our Life Big Picture
To be honest, these are really the small stuffs. We are not even talking about attempting the Everest summit or swimming across oceans. But precisely because these are simple things, things that we can either learn how to do ourselves or pay someone to do it, from plumbing to carpentry work, from changing bulbs to changing tyre, from sawing wood to painting, there is little reason to be too concerned with about failing.
But, the truth is, we are being poured cold water in our lives in one way or another, even with the simple stuffs. And another shocking fact is, we actually allow others and our quiet self to talk us out of it.
Although these seem like very small stuffs not to sweat over, over time, they can have a relatively huge impact on your self confidence.
If we are building our confidence from small wins, and attempting the big achievements bit by bit, how can we top up our confidence tank with big ticket items when we are constantly restricted in collecting our small wins?
How will we ever be confident enough to aim for something bigger when we allow ourselves to be talked out of doing the simple stuffs?
True enough, we may feel that we’re in better hands with people whom we love, trust and are close to. Sometimes they might even seem know how us more than ourselves, and how much we are capable of achieving based on our past performances or behaviours.
However, things are different when we truly want to effect and see change in ourselves. In such situations, not only will their concerns seem unsupportive, they also pull our morale down and jeopardize what we set out to achieve. Moreover, we do not know what we are capable of achieving ourselves, so why should we have to measure ourselves based on opinions of others?
If you have faced similar situations before, there are a few ways we can use to work around this.
You can choose to stay silent, accept what others perceive your capabilities to be and possibly quit.
Or you can choose to silence these words and opinions, do it your way anyway and still possibly fail. Or you might succeed.
Being a headstrong person, ‘no’ means ‘yes’ to me on so many occasions.
I have stayed silent before, chose to stand at the back and not try to do anything while waiting for those who knew how do it for me. And I regretted it later on, because after a while, I would say to myself, “If only I had learned how to do it back then”.
If only I had learned to change tyre back then, I wouldn’t have to call for help.
If only I had done something in the past, I might have achieved it today.
If only I had went against these advice, I might have learned how to deal with a chocked pipe or fused bulb than having to sit around and wait for the plumber/electrician/etc to come.
So what? I might fail, but at least I tried.
So I took the other approach and voiced out my feelings, “If I don’t try or learn now, I will never know how to do it. So what if I fail? So what if I made a mess out of it? At least I know how to do it the next time, and not be reliant on others all the time.”
So I tried and tried on my own, despite not being able to do a good job, at least I tried.
The key question to ask yourself before you give up on any attempts is this, “So what?”
So what even if I failed?
So what even if I drilled a hole wrongly?
So what even if what I did wasn’t perfect the first time?
I still have another chance to make it right, until one day I do it right, until one day I master it. I might have to pay for some damage when I fail, but I learn my lesson.
However, if I let everyone do something for me, I will never learn anything. I will never experience the pain of hitting myself with the hammer and learn to hold the nail a better way next time, or saw the wood quicker and neater. I might not experience the satisfaction of creating my own furniture, or even feel the pride of having completed something on my own, with my own hands and abilities.
People make mistakes but when we look beyond these mistakes, they can bring us immense lessons, and experiences that will stick for life.
If you are easy to take on ‘advice’ of others and fear being judged for what you want to do for yourself, you are limiting yourself from living to the fullest of your capability.
Believe In Yourself
When I was attempting these projects, there was no doubt in my mind that I could do it. In fact, I was all set and prepared to get started, until these voices started appearing. Slowly, I started feeling dejected.
But as Mahatma Gandhi said,
“Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.”
Whether it is for the big goals in life or the small stuffs, give yourself a chance to at least try and press on, again.
At the end of the day, even when you are no good at it, you can tell yourself, “At least I’ve tried”, instead of “If only I had”.
Choose to live a fulfilling life where you’d promise to always break past your comfort zone and do/learn something new instead of staying in that comfort zone.
If you have felt judged or belittled in one way or another, find courage and a suitable time to communicate with whoever have raised their concerns to you. Seek to understand from their point of view, but also let them know why you are doing this, and perhaps how they can help guide you along the way, even if it means you might fail.
If you are someone who restricts your loved ones from trying because you think you know their limitations, try letting go once in a while and see how they fare.
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Originally published at l3hub.org.