Mar 30, 2023 | Virtues of the Heart

Planting seeds

Many years ago, I struggled with self-doubt and a lack of self-confidence. A wise teacher at the time gave me some sobering advice:

“Whenever you doubt yourself, you sow the seeds of your own destruction and if you water these seeds with worry, you strengthen them. Focus instead on your innate ability to grow and expand rather than the contemplation of possible decay.”

I’ll never forget that moment; it really got my attention. It helped me snap out of a downward spiral of self-doubting at the time. Did I need to be reminded of this many times throughout my life? Definitely.

Sometimes we read something or someone says something to us, and we feel that we are over that, done with whatever problem we were dealing with at the time. But rarely does it play out like that; being human and having a human experience is being challenged endlessly, and sometimes we need to be reminded over and over again. I’m one of those who need many reminders. It took many years, but I’ve come to accept this as being ok and natural; it’s part of the process of life.

Jame Mahu also addressed doubt in his 2008 Interview with Mark Hempel, Session Three, pg 17:

“You are empowered beings. You are able to do miraculous things, even amid a small amount of doubt, but do your best to release your doubts and limitations. The human imagination is equally effective in arguing for its limitations as it is in envisioning its freedoms and powers.”

Self-doubt is one of those hidden inner thought patterns which are self-limiting and can be easily dismissed, buried, or ignored because it feels uncomfortable. Becoming aware of it requires being observant of what is going on in the mind through self-inquiry, meditation, or some other method of self-observation.

Recently I was grappling with a decision to move out of my home-based art space to a larger studio. I had been looking for a studio for a long time. Then out of the blue, my wife found a listing for a studio for rent nearby. It was more money than I wanted to spend, but I wanted the space. I began to doubt my ability to cover the long-term costs and if it was right for me. The self-doubt began to snowball, coupled with the emotional counterparts of fear, negative projection, uncertainty, judgment, and worry.

I started down the familiar road of doubt yet again. But, this time, I noticed the conflict and noise going on in my mind. As I have mentioned in other blogs, this initiates a process to apply the six heart virtues to the situation. The technique is not so important; it is the intention to change my behavior and shift out of the old negative pattern. You may have a different preferred path through this, but this works for me.

Self-doubt is a limitation, an illusion of self-identity; it is a wall of the prison of conforming to the social program to be small and limited. I want to break down that wall.

My process:

Step one: Presencing

(I borrowed this step from Micheal Singer, The Untethered Soul)

  • I notice (thoughts, feelings, body)
  • I relax
  • I release (the attention on anything I noticed, thoughts, feelings, etc.)

This centers me in the present moment

Step Two: The Heart Virtues

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1. I focus on my heart space (I imagine my heart as a glowing light of unconditional love surrounded by the six heart virtues)
2. I ask myself which virtue wants to come forward (One or more can emerge)
- In this case, compassion emerged first I could feel compassion for myself which soothed and comforted me.
- Next was understanding  I pulled back to view the larger picture with all its ramifications. I could analyze the situation's pros and cons with a relaxed, clear view.
- Next came valor I wanted to once again stand up to the doubt that had revisited me and challenge it in a coherent manner.
- Next came appreciation I was very grateful for the opportunity that came my way, not only the new space but the opportunity to dispel my doubt once again.

At this point, I was able to look at all the implications and release the self-doubt, replacing it with supportive virtues. This gave me the self-confidence to make a measured decision. One that I could feel confident about. My mind and heart were in alignment, working together.

While emotionally coherent, I could make the decision from a clearer and more balanced place. I was no longer emotionally conflicted.

After going through this process, I was able to say yes to the new space, and things began to fall into place, and I was excited at the possibilities.

Now the work can begin (consciously) of moving and setting up the studio. I could relax, enjoy the new space, and allow my creativity to blossom without the heaviness of doubt and worry.

I feel appreciation for my new studio, which is becoming my holy space where being present is natural and where my creativity is expressed freely without limits.

Doubt will visit me again, but I see it as my friend reminding me that I am off balance and I need to reconnect with my heart.

My goal is to welcome and recognize that every situation is an opportunity to express or receive the heart’s virtues. Which is another way of saying everything can lead to love.

My Studio/ Sanctuary
Emerging from Trust + Self Confidence

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