In-Between Thoughts 1.14.19 New Beginnings, Old Battles

It’s the start of the busy season! For the gym, that is. So far I haven’t had to wait for any piece of equipment nor has anyone hit me in the face (accidentally or on purpose) with a dumbbell, so I’m happy to welcome the 2019 resolutioners to the awesome-for-your-body work that is weight lifting.

It’s also officially the start of a new semester. I started fundraising for a new unit and am entering my third semester of graduate school. I’m taking an Indian Buddhist philosophy class and a class on Hume, and yes, it’s only been a week, but I am in heaven. Such great literature and ideas. Both will present their unique intellectual challenges (some challenges born of the material, some challenges born of my own familiarity — or lack of — with the texts) so I imagine it will be an interesting, good, fulfilling, tough semester. I am excited to have some kind of mastery of these ideas once I’m done.

Unfortunately, my excitement at all these good new beginnings has been tainted by a huge bout of fear. I had a pretty extended period of anxiety over the holidays. All this change was staring me down and, turns out, I am deeply afraid I don’t have what it takes to succeed or make a happy life for myself. That fear is deep. Rooted. Characteristic of much of my life.

I’m so tired of battling myself in this way.

How odd is it to be fighting against ourselves? To be such complex beings that we have different personas, different beliefs, different sets of perspectives that can’t, or don’t want to, coexist.

And what is it about beginnings that bring out my own particular fear battle? Well, I suppose that’s obvious. The unknown. The unknown means I will be faced with things I’m not prepared for, situations, challenges, and relationships I haven’t had a chance to vet or properly “gear up” for. But I shouldn’t be scared. I have faced harder, more obscure challenges before and emerged… something. Stronger? Better? I wonder how many times I have to prove myself to myself in new situations before I just assume I can handle a new situation. Before I believe in myself.

I have been working hard in cognitive behavioral therapy to fix some of the wrong beliefs I have that are negatively affecting my life and relationships. Perhaps not surprisingly, many of the beliefs most needing correcting are beliefs about myself. What I believe about my value, my abilities, my well-being affects what I believe about pretty much everything else. For better or for worse, but certainly inescapably, I am the center of my perceptual world. I cannot remove myself from how I see the world, so everything is essentially, in my perception, rooted in its relation to me. So, with me and with my beliefs about myself is where I need to start.

Today that looks like me reminding myself of all the times I have faced a challenge and came out stronger and even successful on the other side. And then to repeat over and over to myself that I am capable and competent. Repetition turns into belief over time. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but as it turns out, Hume tries to answer this very question. Coincidental and fortunate for me.

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