Maybe I am underestimating the power of the word Underestimate. I mean it is used often, but I have never really consciously put a whole lot of credence into it, or have I? And to turn it into a whole blog post? Hmmm….. Of course, that’s irony in and of itself in thinking that it isn’t exactly a blogworthy subject. Yet, if I stop and think about it, I am actually surrounded by it at the moment, at least in my career life anyway. Well, not me personally, but I have friends and colleagues who seemed bathed in it at present, as each are looking to change their current work positions for various reasons. Some are simply needing a change after years of doing the same, some are wanting a much sought-after promotion and some are just looking to get out of their current circumstance. I am happy to support them in their journeys, wherein it seems that an underestimation of their abilities plays a part–for some, a huge part. Funny how we do that to ourselves. We want change, we crave change, we need change, yet when we are at the precipice of doing so, that inner negative dialogue kind of takes over, and we find ourselves in moments, days, months or even years of self-doubt. ‘Who are we to be so powerful that we should be able to expect change, and successful change at that?’ I say, ‘Who are you NOT to be deserving of such change?’
I wish others could see themselves the way we do. We have way more compassion for each other than we do for ourselves, and I am not sure why or how it came to be so commonplace in this world. We are our own worst critics, and we usually know it. However, changing the merry-go-round that we put ourselves on seems painstaking at times. Especially, when faced with something of great significance to us. Sure some, make that most, of us have some deep-seated reasons for staying stuck and/or not believing in ourselves, but at what point do we let go of those preconceived notions? The truth is that some of us never learn to do so and we spend our whole lives in a familiar, often frustrating pattern never allowing ourselves to experience anything new as a result. Others of us, determined to break free of such nonsense, go gung-ho and almost overboard the other way. Finding a balance between the two is only through trial and error, as long as we are willing to take some chances. As long as we do not underestimate ourselves.
In my late twenties, I went through a powerful self-journey exercise wherein I had to learn the lyrics to Olivia Newton John’s, I Honestly Love You. Though terrified of forgetting the words in each stanza and embarrassed about my singing voice, I did what was asked of me and was fully prepared to sing aloud to a roomful of strangers. Instead, the facilitator asked me to close my eyes and slowly work my way into the song. I reluctantly began, while admittedly sweating profusely. Before long, she asked me to gently open my eyes. To my surprise, I found myself looking back at me in a long stand-alone mirror. Wow! Talk about powerful. I get goosebumps just thinking about it all over again. Until that very moment, I dare say that I had not experienced any such act of love from myself to myself. I had held in so much hurt and anger over situations and people past, that I was unable to look beyond those things and focus inward. That instance of singing Olivia’s song changed that for me immediately. I had never seen myself in such a vulnerable light, and I had never considered what it really meant to love myself. I had a long road ahead yet, but at least I had begun finding my way. The months and years that followed were poignant ones for me in my journey of self-discovery, as I learned to shed myself of past wrongdoings and messages and embrace new beliefs in their place. A decade later, at aged 37, I was introduced to the book entitled, “Women, Food and God”, and within the first few chapters (I still have yet to read the rest), I finally fully surrendered to the life I wanted to live. Basically, at the crux of it, I got out of my own cotton-pickin’ way! Within a couple of weeks, I met my husband and never looked back. Sure, glimpses into my past arise every now and again, but rather than run or hide in fear, I tend to face them straight on, leaving me with more strength and confidence each and every time. An irreplaceable feeling!
With respect to each of my friends looking to carve out new paths in their jobs, I have reminded them that they are worthy! They are just as deserving as the next person who interviews, and if it’s meant to be, it will be. Rather than viewing it as an opportunity to be rejected, why not see it as a chance to shine? To put forward your best self and decide if that self, yourself, belongs in the new environment. Notice that I said ‘decide’–decide insinuates that you have a say in it, and you do ultimately have a say. If it doesn’t work out the way you want, there is usually good reason and let’s face it, if they don’t want you, then you don’t want them. It doesn’t have to be personal, it’s just the way it is. Don’t hand over your personal power to others, it belongs to you, and only you! How do you know that one missed opportunity doesn’t mean a better one is around the bend awaiting you? Quite simply, you don’t.
And so, this post is dedicated to my colleagues who are each seeking a new beginning in a sense. Do NOT underestimate your ability to underestimate yourselves. Just remember that chances are that others competing for the same job are likely thinking similarly, and so what that really means is that you are on equal playing fields. If that is true, then why not tap into the opposite which is that, “(You) are powerful beyond measure…there is nothing enlightenened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.” (Marianne Williamson)