Updated: Feb 22, 2019
My teacher Catherine said, "Self-doubt, or self-criticism is a form of stealing from yourself. It is about not trusting your creativity is there for you, and you are not allowing God to speak through you.".
It was another "A-Ha" moment for me when I heard this in class. Throughout my entire life, especially in my adult years I have suffered in self-doubt and self-criticism. It doesn't help when I was brought up in a very traditional Chinese family where praises were seen as vanity and self-criticism a virtue of modesty. I don't remember my parents ever praised me for anything, except "Only third prize? That's all you can get?" when I got an award from an art competition. The only praise I remember was overhearing my mother telling her friend that I can make a mean apple pie from scratch and I can cook basically anything. It was a fond memory as my mother passed away a few weeks after that. Tiger Parenting is common in Asia, where parents push their children to the brinks using criticism to "motivate" them to do better. Unfortunately the outcome usually leaves one susceptible to self-doubt and self-criticism even when one has achieved well.
As a professional designer for over 20 years, I have always looked back at my design work and criticised myself that I could have changed this bit and that colour to make them better. The reality is, I can only do the best at the very moment where my consciousness allows, but I am habited to compare my old self to my current self. It got worse when I migrated from design to healing/coaching and I feel that I am stuck in a limbo of unworthiness. I fear that I am no longer an up to date designer and my coaching profession is not as developed and recognised as my design career. When I was in design school, I was criticised by my tutors that I was too intellectual and analytical as a designer. Indeed my love back then were literature and films instead of design because I love stories about human conditions and dilemmas. Hence I felt guilty that I was not pursuing in those areas while at the same time guilty about not pouring my heart into design. And now I feel guilty to have left my design training but the truth is, I have to answer to the song of my soul. All my life I kept wondering, I have done okay in all areas, what if I had only one love and I focus on it totally? Perhaps I could have achieved much more!
What if I had continue to study French (I have studied it 3 years in my early 20s) and I could speak like a native francophone by now. I was telling this to my long time friend over dinner whom I know from my French class 20 years ago. She said to me, wouldn't you think it's a great set of survival skills that you have acquired over the years? That instead of thinking your French is not fluent but at least you could get by when visiting France and you can manage to read a little other European languages as a result of that? When I began to think this way, I see all things that attracted me throughout my life coming together. In my first year of dream-opening studies, I walked through it with a fog over my brain. Catherine always say "read every story like a dream!". Now slowly I can begin to see the same story structure in every movie, every novel and fairy tales. It's the life story of every person. It begins with a problem, an imperfection, then the hero/heroine hears the call of the soul. Would you answer to it? Or would you just ignore it and belittle it? If you answer to it, you begin a new journey that takes you away from your comfort zone and you will need to fight a dragon/demon/villain to save the imprisoned prince/princess/treasure, you would meet your helpers along the way but it requires you to let go of self-doubt and judgments since you need to summon your courage and faith to push it through. And as soon as you save the prince/princess/kingdom, you are ready to begin a new journey all over again, because there is no such thing as "perfection absolute"! It is not easy to undo a social and family conditioning, but my helpers along my journey have reminded me again and again that who I am is because of who I was, and nothing is random or mistaken.
當我在課堂上聽到這句話時，那是我另一個的『頓悟』時刻。 在我的整個人生中，特別是在我成年的歲月裡，我患了嚴重的自我懷疑和自我批評。 尤其我是在一個非常傳統的中國家庭中長大，在家裡，讚美被視為虛榮，自我批評則是謙虛的美德。 我不記得父母可曾稱讚過我，除了當我從繪畫比賽中獲獎時一句「只是拿銅獎？」。 我記得的唯一讚美是聽到媽媽告訴她的朋友，我可以從零開始製作一個美味的蘋果派，也基本上可以煮到任何菜式。 那是一個美好的回憶，因為我的母親在那之後幾週後去世了。 『老虎媽媽』在亞洲很常見，父母以嚴格的批評手段將孩子推到高處，來『激勵』孩子做得更好。 不幸的是，結果往往會使人容易掉入自我懷疑和自我批評中，即使那個人已取得不錯的成績。
如果我持續地學習法語（我在20多歲時讀了3年），那麼我現在就可以說得一口像土生土長的法語了。 我跟我在20年前上法語課時認識的好朋友說道。她對我說，難道你不認為這是你多年來建立的一套非常好的生存技能嗎？不要去想你的法語說得不流利，而是至少你到訪法國時可以順利過渡，你也可以閱讀一點其他的歐洲語言呵！當我開始這麼想時，我漸漸看到一生中吸引我的所有事物都聚合過來。在我學習『開啓夢境』的第一年，我滿腦子都是霧。Catherine 總是說「每個故事都像夢一樣解讀！」。現在慢慢地，我開始可以在每部電影、每本小說和童話中看到相同的故事結構。這是每個人的生命故事。它始於一個難題，一個不完美，然後主角聽到了靈魂的召喚。你會回應嗎？或者你會忽略它並貶低它？如果你回應它，你便開始一個新的旅程，離開你的舒適區，需要去打敗一個惡龍/惡魔/惡棍來拯救被監禁的王子/公主/寶藏，你會遇到你的貴人，但這趟歷險要求你放下自我懷疑和批判，因為你需要鼓起勇氣和信念來推動它。一旦你拯救了王子/公主/王國，你就準備好去開始一段新的旅程，因為沒有『絕對完美』這樣的東西！要改變社會和家庭信念並不容易，但我旅途中的貴人一次又一次地提醒我，今天的我是因為昨天的我，沒有一點是隨意或錯誤的。