image courtesy of shutterstock.comMy intention with each of these posts is that you’re challenged to interrupt the noise and routine in your life, just for a moment, to think more deeply about what really matters in life… your relationship with yourself and with others in your professional and personal life. Have you ever watched a toddler taking their first steps? Even as I write this, I have a big smile on my face as I remember that time for each of our two sons.
With our first-born, Matthew, I remember sitting on one of our lounge chairs with Matty standing between my extended legs and using them to hold himself up. He would tentatively walk forward from my thighs out to my ankles and then come back again, continually balancing with his hands on my legs like the rails on a balustrade.
Then the moment came when he got to my ankles and took his first step toward Liz, who was kneeling on the carpet about a metre away, waiting with arms extended and lots of encouragement.
He took his first step, then another, and then fell.
No tears, no disappointment, just a determination to get up by himself, balance and take off again. This time he made it into Liz’s arms, and we all carried on as if he had just won the 100-metre sprint at the Olympics. And it was the same with our other son, Anthony.
Toddlers are so determined. They lack fear. They are so keen to learn, and everything seems to be an adventure and a new marvel as they discover more and more about their environment, the people around them, and themselves.
A quick self-assessment
Take a moment right now, and on a scale of 1 being a low score and 10 being a high score, how would you rate the following:
1. Your determination to set and achieve life goals
2. Your lack of fear (or courage) to overcome obstacles and tough times
3. Your sense of awe and wonder about the gift of life
4. Your sense of curiosity, discovery and commitment to life-long-learning
5. Your sense of self-trust (including your confidence in your capacity to achieve in life as well as your control, discipline and willpower to be at your best)
There is a moment in all our lives when we realise that where we were once dependent on others for everything in our life, we ourselves can cause things to happen.
This is what psychologists refer to as causal agency – the belief and feelings we have about the control we have over our own actions, and the consequences of those actions.
From infancy we quickly learn that our actions impact ourselves and others, and those actions have consequences. We also learn that sometimes our actions and their impact are intended, and sometimes unintentional.
On my tenth birthday, my best friend Greg and I were double dinking on my brand new Malvern Star Dragster bike. I was on the seat pedaling and Greg was sitting behind me (the Dragster had really long seats, made for two people), when I lost control and we crashed.
Crashing was not an intentional action, and the consequences of the action certainly weren’t intended either – I ended up in hospital with concussion (thankfully Greg just received a couple of scratches and bruises).
Positive Thinking Is Not Enough
We need to look beyond the ridiculous claims of some self-help gurus that through the power of positive thinking and the law of attraction (if you want something enough it will manifest itself into your life blah blah blah), we can control everything in our lives.
The reality is, we can’t control everything in our lives, and not everything that will happen to us will be intentional.
This reminds me of the German philosopher Reinhold Niebuhr’s ‘Serenity Prayer’ that my mum had on a poster pinned to the inside of the door of our toilet (sorry for that imagery, but it was a prayer that I got to see a lot when I was growing up) …
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Self-Trust in a Global Pandemic
As we see an increase in remote working, that has and will continue for many to be the new normal, our sense of self-trust will become even more important to our success and well-being.
If you just read through the self-assessment earlier, I recommend you take a moment to complete it now, and to reflect on your self-rating.
Is it time for that inner-child to reclaim your sense of determination, goal achievement, courage, awe, wonder, curiosity, learning, and self-trust?
Of the five areas listed in the self-assessment, which one over the next three months, if you intentionally focused on improving in that area, what positive difference would it make for you, for your relationships, for your work and home life and helping you toward living an even more meaningful, flourishing and prosperous life?
The ignition key to improving your sense of self-trust is to ask yourself some hard questions about how well you are living up to the best version of yourself, and then to take appropriate and positive action toward improvement.