by Leandra Witchwood
I grew up in a household where my extra efforts where sometimes scoffed at and ridiculed. Growing up this way I naturally believed that my extra efforts were silly and pointless. Even now after years of soul searching, meditation, and empowering myself; I still struggle with my less than healthy self-esteem. I now realize that it was my family’s insecurities mix with my own ability to hang on to the past that helped make me insecure.
I did not appreciate how common this issue is until I took a good look at our American culture. It happened while I was taking my most recent class on progressing in meditation. The instructor commented on how our American mind-set differs from the Tibetan mind-set. She revealed to me how our culture is based on “Your best is not good enough”, instead of “You did your best and that is good. Try it again tomorrow and you will do better.”
I immediately found this enlightening and empowering. It helped me remember that our mindset is not the only mindset available. It was freeing to know that I have the option to change. We don’t always contemplate the messages we receive from family, media, friends, and community. Unfortunately, these messages seep deeply into our psyche doing damage that is tough to mend. Over the past several weeks, I have been contemplating this reality and how one can conquer this subtle oppression.
Someone once told me this, “We are who we think, others think, we think, we are.” Some wisdoms are not always easy to grasp or express and this one defiantly has a “Whoa!” factor. To put it most simply, if we believe in ourselves and express our own inner strengths, others will pick up on this and it will become who we are to them. In turn they will treat is as confident and capable people thus encouraging our own confidence.
Our self-esteem is important in developing ourselves Magickally and spiritually. Recognizably it is counter-productive to achieve proficiency in Magick and spirituality without working on our inner blockages, like low self-esteem. When it comes to learning a spiritual path on your own and performing Magick, your healthy self-esteem is what drives our intentions home. You have to be willing to believe in yourself and your abilities 100%.
When I began this path several years ago, there were very few creditable people offering classes, apprenticeships, coven opportunities, etc. So much of what I learned in the beginning was on my own. Before I was able to find competent teachers with enough experience under their belts I read books, practiced what I read, kept a journal of my experiences and more. From what I can gather not much has changed for many people out there. Many beginners and many of those on the cusp of moving beyond the “101” stage are still limited to learning on their own.
So if we spend so much time practicing alone, reading alone, and learning alone why can’t we find some pride and empowerment in this? Doing so much work and finding the will and dedication without someone encouraging us is not easy. By taking these steps on your own shows you have the inner flicker of your own healthy self-esteem. You don’t have someone around to explain things to you or push further, you tapped into your own personal strength. I feel for people when I read how they feel stuck and can’t progress on their own. I immediately want to jump in and offer encouragement.
I feel we are placed here to help one another ascend. Here are some ways I was able to move forward, find my inner power and confidence. Perhaps you can benefit from the things as well.
1. Read – I don’t mean simply read things published by Pagan authors. Read fiction, periodicals, blogs, and subjects that may not pertain to your practice but have a sense of creativity. Read something that inspires, motivates, and above all challenges you.
2. Listen to Pagan and Spiritual Podcasts –There are so many Pagans out there chatting up the internet. Some you will agree with and some you will not. That doesn’t matter. The point is to open yourself up to other points of view and ideals. This is also a great way to practice non-judgmental listening. If we become too judgmental of how others practice we lose the point. Listen and learn with an open heart and mind.
3. Practice Staying in the Moment – This is a tough one, but it is essential. Breathing is a great way to practice. I found that I am able to adjust my thought patterns and emotions by simply focusing on my breath. Sometimes I will incorporate Yoga breathing techniques, which also seem to be effective.
4. Get Outside – Go camping, take a hike, listen to the birds, watch the clouds, study animals in their habitats without interpretation, or document the growth of your favorite tree or garden. Watch Nature in all her splendor and take time to realize her connections and cycles.
5. Create something – I have a few hobbies and crafts I enjoy from sewing to candle making to making herbal remedies to gardening. I find that when I engage myself in something creative I relax and think. There have been several occasions where I reached critical epiphanies while sewing a ritual robe or cooking up a healing salve.
6. Find a tough and experienced Teacher – I can’t stress this enough… find a tough and experienced teacher. Find someone who has been around for a minimum 10 years, Preferably someone with experience in leading others a public group. When you find someone with experience like this, you are likely to bypass the drama and head games that inexperienced and socially closed leaders tend to indulge. Our Elders are very important and from what I have seen we discredit them too quickly. Make sure the teacher you choose will challenge you mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and don’t be afraid to accept the challenge of learning something new. Finding a teacher is not always easy but when you find the right one you will be amazed at your growth.
7. Be Willing to Dedicate – Passive learning never does anyone any good. Personally, I see too much passive learning and engagement from the community. Maybe that sounds a little harsh but it is true. We tend to look for the easy answer and the quick fix. Truthfully, this path is filled with necessary lessons that are difficult but well worth the effort. Without these lessons, we would gain nothing. If we only look for the easy in everything, we end up with a very shallow spirituality. When the tough lessons hit you try your best to recognize where they hit you the hardest and find ways to stick with it. Dedication will deliver a deeper understanding of the spiritual experience.
8. Notice your own patterns – I had a man come to me a few years ago who wanted me to read his cards for him. As soon as I saw him I knew what he was looking for. He wanted to know what was following him around to make him have such bad luck. I also knew he was not willing to know the truth. As I read his cards, the uncomfortable truth was revealed. The cards said to him that he needed to change the way he lived his life and viewed/treated the people in his life. He needed to change his reactions to situations and he needed to release himself from negative redundant processes he had become blind to over the years. He was convinced that someone had cursed him, and that may be true. One of the most basic curses and hard-hitting curses is to bind someone to their own destructive behaviors. So if you feel you are stuck take a look at what you have been doing and perhaps try something new.
9. Don’t Quit – If you quit you fail. I don’t like using this word but I can’t describe it any other way. When you quit no one can help you. If you need to step away for a while then take the time you need, but don’t allow your frustration to drive you to ending your journey.
10. Help Others – There is a certain inner reward for doing something for someone else. Volunteer your time helping rescue wild animals, clearing hiking trails, reading to kids in the library, weeding a community garden, etc. Do it as a distraction, make the effort to give back, and give yourself the time to connect with other people even if they are not from a Pagan path.
These are only a few things we can try to move forward and become more confident within our practice. Through time and dedication, we can look back and see how we have changed. Most of us don’t change over night. Give yourself a break and give yourself some time. Change is usually scary and difficult for many people, but trying your best is all you can do. If you falter, try again. You will do better each time.
Do your best today. Try it again tomorrow and you will do better.
About the Author:
Leandra Witchwood has served her local community as a Minister of Earth-Base Spirituality, an Animal Card Reader, Spiritual Counselor, Leader, Teacher, and much more. Leandra enjoys facilitating Labyrinth walks and educational seminars. She also teaches classes on mediation, Witchcraft, Wicca, and various Magickal techniques. Her spiritual teachings and readings are inspiring and revealing. Leandra is currently writing books and blogs to benefit the larger community.
To learn more, visit:http://leandrawitchwood.blogspot.com/