A couple of weeks ago I sang at a house concert. A woman told me after the show that I made her feel comfortable. Relaxed. Like I knew what I was doing and having a good time. She said some people we get at these concerts are so timid and afraid. As an audience member, you don’t relax the entire evening. But with you it was different. I could relax and enjoy the music.
Wasn’t that nice of her?
As a musician believing in yourself is important. I mean who wants to see someone weak up on stage? As a performer, we can fake it to an extent, but the audience eventually picks up on it. I’m not talking arrogance ala, Michael Flatley. But a general belief that you belong where you are. That you have something of value to give to the world.
I know it’s not easy for many people. Myself included. Our entire lives we receive mixed messages. One moment we’re told we can do or be anything we want. The next minute our dreams are squashed by a ‘well-meaning’ parent or teacher. If you add trauma to the mix our self-esteem can plummet. Boy have I been there.
There is a reason why those in poverty tend to stay in poverty. Some of it has to do with Newton’s Law of Motion. It’s hard work to pull yourself out of a situation when there seems to be no hope. It’s easier to stay. But it has more to do with that. There are those of us who believe we don’t deserve more. This is where the real battle is. The battle of our thoughts and belief in ourselves. Have you ever stopped to listen to that little voice inside your head? The one that is on repeat? The one that never shuts up? If we had a friend who was like that. This broken record always putting us down every time we tried something different or new. We'd knock them into the next room. Oops, my redneck came out there. Seriously though. We wouldn't put up with it for too long from someone else. But inside our head its a free-for-all.
Here's the thing. If we think we deserve disrespect, we get it. If we think we deserve abuse, we get it. If we think drama follows us, it does. If we think life sucks, it does. If we think life is a struggle, it is. If we think we’ll never get anywhere, we won’t. The kicker is we may not even know we think that way until we stop and listen. Pay attention to our innermost thoughts. They say there is a glass ceiling. This ain't glass. This ceiling is made from a lifetime of cement-like lies and we need to take a sledgehammer to it.
It took me a long time to come to this realization. I allowed so much to happen to me because deep down I felt I deserved it somehow. It can change though. It takes effort and a belief in yourself that you are worthy of better. Worthy of more. When that happens things shift. Like magic. You find yourself saying “I deserve better.” You put up with less. You’re stronger.
But the devil can raise its head at any time. Poking at you to see if the old you is still there. You’ll find yourself in a situation. For me, as a musician, it can be a minuscule audience. Poor ticket sales. Looking at my album debt. I can fall into a trap of no one wants to see/hear me. I may as well pack it in. And so forth. Very Eeyore of me. I’m not fun to be around if I get that way. Hell, I want to get away from me. But it is at this point when I have a choice to make. I can choose to wallow (which I have done in the past) or I can lick my wounds and change my inner voice. “The people who came loved the show and will tell their friends.” “People don’t know about me yet. But when they do watch out.” “Patience Grasshopper. It will happen.”
We all deal with it. In every facet of our life. Our choice in relationships. Our vocation. Our dreams. Our goals. We can settle and choose to put limits around ourselves or we can dive into life head first.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve spent a lifetime surrounded by limitations. Let's all take a sledgehammer to those limiting beliefs.
I deserve to do what I do. I deserve to follow my dreams. Even the big scary ones. So do you. Take a deep breath and believe you can. Then go do it. One step at a time. I’m cheering for you.
Remember, we don't have to settle for less just because its available.