Alchemy Only Works One Way

If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you know that I’ve struggled at times with my self-confidence. I have a lot more of it now than I did four years and fifty some posts ago, but confidence is a slippery thing. You might feel like king (or queen) of the mountain in certain situations and around certain people, only to feel like a complete incompetent moron in others.

I’ve been thinking about this phenomenon lately when I notice my confidence gremlin chattering in my ear. He tells me I’m “less than,” “not good enough,” and that I couldn’t possibly “measure up” to people I especially admire. I’ve also noticed that a mere perceived glance of disdain or disapproval from others can send my self-confidence into a tailspin. What gives?

I used to think self-confidence should be a fixed quantity: either you have it or you don’t. But I no longer believe this is true. I think it can fluctuate based on things like the time, the day, or the situation.

Why is this, though? I think, for me at least, it’s because I sometimes allow my sense of self-worth to depend on other people. “Do they think I’m worthy? — Okay, then, I must be worthy.” I don’t suppose this would be a problem if everyone thought I was worthy and good, but it’s a rare person for whom that is always the case.

There will always be people who will think we’re weird, or ugly, or somehow lacking. So how to deal?

Something that has helped me as of late is to think a little abstractly and borrow from a metaphor I heard my shero Tara Brach talking about on one of her podcast episodes the other day.  She was describing how an ancient clay Buddha statue cracked one day to reveal a solid gold statue underneath. It had been covered over with plaster to help it get through tumultuous times without being stolen or damaged, but was now the largest golden Buddha statue in Southeast Asia. It had always been gold, but people simply didn’t recognize it as such.


My own twist on this story is that simply because the people didn’t recognize it as solid gold didn’t change the fact that it was. Likewise, we are each valuable in our own way, but depending on the circumstances, people may not always see it. Maybe they’re too busy, they haven’t taken the time to get to know us, or they’re just stupid jerks. Whatever. But the fact remains: we are still gold.

Maybe this analogy only makes sense in my own little golden brain, but it’s helped me a little during those times when I see my confidence wavering. I simply remind myself of the treasure I contain, regardless of whether or not anyone sees it. If someone refuses to acknowledge that the earth is round, does that make it untrue? If people deny the beauty of a glorious sunset, does that detract from it’s magnificence? Of course not. Some people just be crazy. 🤪

What I’m saying is this: Remember the basic goodness inherent in who you are. Someone else’s inability to see it does not change the fact that it exists. You are gold. And gold cannot be downgraded into lead.



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