My parents, with whom I spoke almost daily, lived with for all but 10 of my years, and saw 2-3 times per week, died four months apart in 2006. Since then, it has felt like something very significant was missing from my life. Of course, they were missing; but I could not figure out how that would have caused total annihilation of my will to live, and of my motivation to dream or do anything in the life left behind.
(If you've been reading my nascent blog, you understand that I'm trying to piece together why I feel so different in the "after" than I did "before", because it doesn't seem normal. Other people lose their parents, and they resume their lives after a grieving period. For me, it seemed to upend my entire life and I'm trying to figure out how to put it back together and get on with it.)
For the past seven years, I’ve searched endlessly for the external factor—was it their money? Their love? Their presence? Did they add something to my life that was so vitally important for me to be able to function (that couldn’t be replaced) that without it, I was doomed? How did other people go on after losing someone?
None of the answers satisfied me. I realized in looking back over our lives together that we argued more than we laughed, and that in their absence, along with missing them, I also felt a sort of relief that the arguing and friction had ended. I was now free to live my life on my terms, to pursue my dreams without criticism—yet, I’d lost all motivation to do so. And I could not pinpoint any external parentally-related factor that could have contributed either to my having once had this motivation nor to having lost it.
Today, I realized there is no external factor. It’s an internal factor.
My self-esteem and self-belief has always been fragile. I was adopted, believed I’d been rejected by my first mother (this later proved to be untrue, it was a very complex situation), and I questioned my worth from an early age. My adoptive parents (henceforth known as ”my parents”) did everything they could to reinforce my worth and sustain and rebuild my self-belief.
For me, they were a daily reinforcement of that self-belief—such that I didn’t have to participate AT ALL in elevating my self-esteem or generating any self-belief. When I felt it flagging, I’d just run to them for replenishment.
It has become painfully evident to me, in the absence of my parents and their constant reinforcement, that I failed to learn how to reinforce my own self-belief.
Without self-belief, nothing seems worth doing. Why bother? It isn’t likely to really work out anyway, is it? Without self-belief, there is no motivation. Without motivation, there is no action. Without action, there is no energy being released to the universe. Without this, there is no manifestation.
I can receive nothing, when my self-belief is absent. My belief in myself, in the possibility of success, absolutely MUST exist within me in order to generate any kind of manifestation.
Nothing external changed. It has always been this way. All that changed was that the veil obscuring my ability to SEE that this issue existed was removed when they died. No longer held up by the illusion they provided, I am finally able to see that responsibility for believing in myself belongs to ME, and only me—that I cannot (nor should I) seek the reinforcement of my self-belief from others, but must learn to rebuild, reinforce and replenish my self-belief MYSELF.
All I have to do to have my motivation return is to learn—or remember—how to BELIEVE IN MYSELF.
Someone who doesn’t believe in herself, or does not believe in the possibility of success, does not take actions leading to success. This person will give up easily. She’ll get the inspiration to paint (write, sing, dance, exercise, etc.). She’ll ponder it for a moment. Then she’ll hear that inner voice saying, “What’s the point? Never gonna happen anyway,” and she’ll go get a plate of brownies and watch TV instead. At best, she might make a half-hearted attempt at painting (writing, singing, etc.), but the whole time she’ll hear the internal chatterbox nagging at her to put down the brush (pen, microphone) and go do something more productive because “this is a waste of time”.
I know these voices all too well. If I know my paintings will never make it into a juried show, or that my novel will never become a bestseller, or my songs won’t ever get played on the radio… even if it IS fun, what’s the point? Especially if my dream was to BE an accomplished artist, or a bestselling novelist, or a rock star…
Someone who DOES believe in herself and the possibility of success not only takes actions that lead to success, but her attitude is different. She is fired up inside. When she comes home from work, she goes right to her creative workspace (or to the gym or whatever) and she gets down to business with fierce determination because SHE KNOWS this is just one more step on the path to success. She can SEE it working out. She can taste the success. She can hear it, smell it, feel it.
That can’t be faked. That comes from within. The whole time she’s doing her thing, her internal voice is like a cheerleader—GO! GO! GO! It’s rhapsodizing about the accolades sure to be coming soon, praising her for going one more lap around the track, showing her visions of the slinky new cocktail dress she’ll be wearing at the reunion, or the award she’s accepting on stage for her novel or album or latest movie role—she can SEE her dreams coming true in her mind because she believes in them and believes in herself.
I never had that much faith in myself; but I had more when my parents were alive because they took over the responsibility for bolstering my overall general self belief—and since I couldn’t manage to spread what little self-belief I had to cover my dream AND myself in general, with their help, I had just enough left over that I managed to cover the part needed to believe in my dreams.
With them gone, however, the responsibility for reinforcing my self-belief is all on me. I didn’t have enough to cover any dreams AND my belief in my ability to survive on my own. THAT is what has changed.
And that is what I must now change. It’s time to learn how to believe in myself, without anyone’s help, and to reinforce my belief in myself—and my dreams—by myself.