The White Elephant: 4 Tips to Balance Yourself and Overcome Doubt
White Elephant; a burdensome possession or task; creating far more trouble than it’s worth. Well that doesn't sound at all pleasant now does it?
The story of the white elephant as history tells, is this rare creature was regarded as sacred and holy in ancient times in many Asian countries. To possess a white elephant was a very expensive undertaking, with the owner required to feed the elephant morning noon and night special food and provide access for all the towns people to come and worship the massive, unique beast. If a king became dissatisfied with one of his subservients, he would give him a white elephant. The gift would, in most cases, ruin the receiver for life.
I have a white elephant. It’s called DOUBT. Burdensome, and definitely more trouble than it’s worth. High maintenance, very costly, and having to show my doubt around town is truly a chore and not at all attractive. I’d like to hand it off to someone I am dissatisfied with, but even if there were someone I loathed, I wouldn’t give them doubt, unquestionably the most useless thought or emotion pulling a close second to fear.
Falling into the doubting abyss can have you feel like we’re totally alone in our questioning. We negatively assume everyone else on the planet has their whole life, career, family, relationship, whatever, all figured out. To everyone else it looks so seamless, so natural and their successes just pop off like candy in a Pez dispenser. What is it with us, how is it we are struggling with this or that, ruminating over and over, “What is it with me? Am I the only one who seems to be scrambling and fumbling lately? Before you’ve had time to smack some sense into your whacky head, the doubt is THERE and you are completely convinced you are not going to pull anything off of any measure.
Hear me when I say this; No one has everything figured out. We all make mistakes, flounder and misfire at various times in our lives. No matter who you are or where you are in your path, every person out there has doubtful thinking and feelings of insecurity. Doubt turns into fear ‘oh so quickly, so take a step back, inhale long and deep, reach your hands high above your head, release your arms to the side and BREATH. Big breath in, big breath out. Big breath in, big breath out. Slowly, Fully. Completely.
For me, when this insidious stuff claws its way into my thoughts and psyche I work in a very focused, speedy fashion to grab the bastard by the cahones and flip it on its backside. I’m not one to linger in doubt these days if I can help it, so remembering that I can;
1. Picture Yourself Fearless. In particular moments of self doubt, when I am challenged by a task or a big project with high expectations, I like to envision myself utterly fearless and pushing past whatever it is that is causing me resistance. I used to bungee jump (yes, free falling is on my 2012 list of “will do” right beside learning to surf and travel to Cambodia) and when I did, the sensation is mind blowing; a rush of adrenaline like nothing I could describe and a feeling of so much space and freedom… its a powerful visual for me and it gives me courage knowing that I have that experience as a reference. Choose anything that might put you in a place of fearlessness; pretend you are a super hero, a rock star, your favorite athlete, your yoga teacher – any picture you can place in the front of your mind and hold it there and see yourself doing it and being successful in the doing.
2. Keep Your Expectations in Perspective. You probably have realized already, a huge amount of self doubt comes from our expectations we place on ourself and on others. If you genuinely believe raising the bar so high is going to result in an attainable return or positive results well wake up – this pattern only sets us up for confusion, chaos, blame and a whole bunch of doubt. Consciously keeping our expectations in perspective allows you to let things happen naturally, smoothly, instinctively. By letting go of this doubt-feeder behavior, you are separating thoughts of expectation from the situation and removing pressure from yourself and others. I speak from a very true personal place when I tell you NOT doing this is a disaster in the making. Often when I allow myself the opportunity to let go of any expectations things seem to turn out much nicer than I could have ever expected.
3. Surround Yourself with People Who Love and Support You. This one is especially big for me and something I have actively made very important in my life right now. There is a yoga practice I am particularly fond of taught by the brilliant and gifted Elena Brower. In one of the poses Elena asks the class to “Lean back into your back body awareness. This is the place in your body where those who love and support you are found.” When we do not feel supported or loved we are not powerful or confident. We are fearful and we doubt all our choices and our actions. We as beings are social creatures. Acceptance is very crucial, especially by people we love and admire. I encourage you to be with individuals who are capable of unconditionally loving and supporting you, and with whom you love and strongly support. Having people in your world who genuinely have your back, who may not agree with everything you do or all your decisions, but come rain or shine they accept you for who you are and rejoice in knowing you are the same for them.
4. Realize That People Only Talk About the Good Stuff. Do yourself a favor right now and stop comparing yourself to other people. Do you really think anyone is going to tweet or post on Facebook all the dark, shitty selfish things they do? Of course not. This crazy world we live in is 60 percent illusion so you cannot take anything at face value, and to think that someone else has it better, or you are not enough is just wasted energy and eats away at your confidence – this is a definite doubt-feeder! The constant drive to out sell, out work, out create, out shine everyone around us will syphon the life right out of you. I speak from experience here too; stop being so bloody concerned about someone else’s business and pay attention to what you have to do for yourself. So what if she or he is doing more, the time you devote to their stuff is time you are not working on YOU.
So if you are like me, and that white elephant takes it upon himself to waltz into your life and stomp on all your good vibes, just pull back, take another one of those big fat, deep breaths, and SHOUT OUT LOUD. Tell that nasty, nagging little riot in our heads to SHUT UP and move on. Push that clumsy white beast out the door of your thoughts, and just do what you would do when you are busting out and filled full with confidence and love. Listen to your heart; life isn’t perfect, no one is perfect all the time, we just do the best we can in any situation – the idea is to just DO IT. You can accomplish great things, have wonderful experiences, trust that you are capable, brilliant and strong, and before you know it? That white elephant is teetering on the heel of the little brown mouse who decided it was time to rule the circus.
To learn more about meditation or yoga, check out The Essential Guide To Meditation With Charlie Knoles and The Complete Guide To Yoga With Tara Stiles.
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