By the time she called me, my friend was desperate. As an avid gardener who loved to cultivate delicate, expensive blooms, she usually had no problem keeping her plants healthy and vibrant — but for some reason, she couldn’t keep her favorite flower from withering away. She had tried giving it more sunshine, food, and water, but to no avail.
It was dying, and she didn’t know how to save it.
I asked her to bring the plant for a visit. Once she arrived, I examined its discolored, undersized leaves and drooping stems. I heard her gasp as I began the slow process of stripping the earth away from its roots.
“Is it really that sick?” she asked.
“Sometimes,” I said, my fingers still gently working the too-soft, dark roots free, “the problem can’t be helped from the surface.”
The expensive plant was suffering from an infection in its roots. To fix it, I had to expose the problem to the air and remove the diseased parts before we could re-pot the plant and let it grow.
You can probably guess where I’m going to go with this. In some ways, we are all like that plant.
Often, the fears and insecurities that prevent us from flourishing have roots that we can’t see on the surface of our lives. And yet, all of us have beliefs about ourselves that trace back to nearly forgotten rejections, some of them so long past that we’re no longer aware how much a part they still play in our lives today. We might not sing because a childhood choir teacher told us we weren’t very good; we might not let ourselves try at something, because a family member told us we would look foolish in the attempt.
Everyone has endured hurtful criticism at one time or another, whether or not your childhood was a happy one. Regardless of your past, these negative ideas about ourselves are as damaging as that toxic bacteria, eating away at our confidence and willingness to reach beyond our comfort zone. Self-doubt can be crippling; it can prevent us from pursuing a dream, pushing for a promotion, or speaking up when it counts.
I’ve felt this kind of limiting belief firsthand. Growing up in a rural Korean village in the 1950s, I was always derided for being born a girl. My gender was considered a curse on my family, especially because I had no interest in becoming a homemaker. My true love was martial arts; a pursuit allowed only to men. I was constantly derided for my passions and told that I would fail; I was rejected, abused, and put down on a near-constant basis.
My experience is extreme, but it is in no way an isolated occurrence. Every person faces the challenge of other peoples’ expectations in their life; from childhood, other people always provide directions for who we should be and how we should act. Sadly, sometimes these instructions have little to do with who we really are. In fact, many people provide advice as a way to control or gain power, addressing some lack in their own life.
Yet, even knowing this, how often do we allow those around us to tell us who we are, and what we can expect from ourselves? How many times in a day do you defer to some belief about yourself, given to you by someone else from long ago?
You don’t need to allow others to define you. Despite the oppressive nature of my village, I managed to become the first female grandmaster in Korea and establish my own studio. You can clean that rot off of your psychological roots and bloom into the person you were always meant to be — but the process will take effort.
Here are the six truths you will need to accept as you heal your roots and reconnect with your true self.
You Are Unique
There is no one else in the world who is exactly like you. Don’t let another person’s opinions affect your self-image or motivations, because their perspective is incomplete. You may have good advisors, but at the end of the day, you are the one who knows yourself best. You get to decide who you want to be. No one else can tell you who you are.
You Have More Strength Than You Know
In life or death situations, you can accomplish anything. How many stories have you heard of desperate mothers lifting cars off of their trapped children, or of people pushing the odds of human survival? We are all linked into a universal life force — one that allows us to overcome our perceived physical and mental limitations. Most people aren’t aware of their connection to this underlying force. However, given training and focus, anyone can access it.
Don’t confuse feeling weak with being weak. You may have doubts, indeed, fear plays a part in any healthy person’s thoughts! But you don’t have to surrender to that fear, today. You can acknowledge its presence, and then move past, ultimately leaving it behind.
Your Thoughts Determine Your Reality
If you allow negative thoughts to dictate your self-image, you will always be bound by the limitations others impose upon you. Take a more deliberate approach to mental filtering; recognize intrusive, negative thoughts when they come and respond with positive affirmations. Say, “No, I can accomplish what I intend to do. If others can reach their goals, I too can make my dreams happen.”
Language is a powerful tool: in politics, in religion, in advertising, and in our daily lives. Don’t let your language about yourself limit your progress. Change the way you think and talk about yourself. It’s not always easy, but I guarantee the practice of positive thinking and speaking will yield a difference in what you are able to manifest.
You Embody Creative Energy
We all have creative energy; however, when we give up on creating, we pour that energy into a mold of helplessness, reinforcing our belief in our own inaction. Break the cycle; find the motivation you need to create something — a hobby, a friendship, a career — that brings you true fulfillment.
You Already Have the Power to Make Your Dreams a Reality
Without determination, any good intentions will stall, lacking the energy necessary to make it a reality. Remember, procrastination is just another symptom of self-doubt. Even five minutes of action a day towards your goals can move you away from paralysis and into success. Set a timer if you have to, and begin.
The good news? Getting started is the hardest part. The more you do, the less likely it is that you’ll sink back into your comfortable, unfulfilling patterns. Take one step today. Two steps tomorrow.
You Need to Find What Brings You Joy
Do you know what makes you happy? I’m not talking about what makes your family happy, or earns you a paycheck, or the expectations you have set for yourself. No — I’m asking if you know what brings a smile to your face and makes you feel alive. What “thing” brings you joy?
Don’t allow doubt to poison your psychological “roots.” Don’t let the careless words of others from the past define your present, or your future. Make that “thing” be the primary driver for everything you do, and the top priority for how you structure your day.
No matter who you are, no matter what hardships you face, you alone have the power to determine how you will respond to the challenges you encounter, and by what values you will live. Your path is your own. Every successful person you will meet knows this to be true, and yet I am always so sad to meet so many people who don’t believe this, still.
The truth is that you are free to take action, starting right now, in this moment, towards making what is important to you a reality.
Let’s get started!
While you’re reading through this, try to think about times when you may have felt critical of others or yourself. Did holding those feelings help the situation or did they make it worse?
As you become more aware of the energy and emotions you want to purge from your environment, try your best not to get caught up in criticizing yourself for the attribute you want to be rid of. Please don’t be too hard on yourself for having apprehension or being restless or annoyed. The fact that you’re taking notice of these tendencies means that you’re doing something – you’re starting taking first steps to take control of your life. As I mentioned earlier, try to analyze these shortcomings with a very close eye.
When you’re driving down an old road on a hot day and your car gets covered in dust, you wouldn’t think of it as right or wrong. You understand that this is something that just happens, and you make a mental note to get the car washed the next time you’re in town. Let’s pretend you’re in a car and it begins to rain, naturally your front window begins to get wetter and wetter so you turn on the windshield wipers to see better. You’re not going to blame the rain for messing with you and say, “Why is this stupid water getting on my windshield and all over my car, and on a Monday of all days!?”
It doesn’t really matter how you feel about the rain, partially because the rain doesn’t care about you either. Maybe you have been experiencing a major drought where you live and you welcome the downpour with open arms, or maybe you’ve had drenching floods lately and you don’t want to see another drop of rain for the rest of your life. Regardless of how you feel, you have to deal with what’s happening in the moment. Getting worked up and allowing emotions to negatively influence you won’t help. In order to move forward, you have to establish a balance, be positive, and take appropriate measures.
Life is like sailing across an ocean, and in the same way that you experience rough and turbulent weather at times, so too will you experience fear or doubt or jealousy and you’ll want to have your umbrella with you. That’s perfectly natural. Observe these attitudes for what they really are and, becauseyou’re being consciously aware just know that they’re holding you back, set your sights on removing them and replacing them with belief in yourself as your own unique person, gratitude for what you already have, and excitement to be alive with a new day of opportunity ripe for the takinIf you connect with what you’ve read here you might enjoy the book I wrote SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER, where I talk about other life experiences and what I’ve learned in the process.
Last month, I had the opportunity to celebrate my 73rd birthday with my family and so many close friends!
In my life, this is only the 3rd time I’ve celebrated my birthday. Being considered a curse and bad luck as I grew up, no one wanted to celebrate that! As I started my life in America, I didn’t pay any attention to my birthday coming and going.
My students would always approach me to suggest we throw a big birthday party. I usually would tell them no. Some years, we would hold dinners at homeless and recovery shelters. I’d rather spend the time helping others. My life has been so richly blessed by God, my desire is to only help others.
Thank you to all my friends who flew in from overseas! It was wonderful catching up with everyone! I look forward to seeing everyone again soon!
Time is going by so fast! Take a moment to tell your family, your significant other – anyone you appreciate – tell them you love them. Don’t be stingy with your love! Love is one benefit that isn’t taxed!
May God Bless You All!
It was an amazing honor to have received a Gold Lifetime Achievement Award from the Golden Bridge Awards! This was the 10th anniversary of this prestigious organization, and we were honored at a red carpet award ceremony in the gorgeous Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco!
My heart is full of joy to have been nominated! I feel blessed to have met so many wonderful people at the ceremony!
One of the special messages that I delivered during my awards speech: “If I can achieve my goals in this lifetime, others can do the same – never give up!”
Our President, Scott Salton, was quoted to say: "This award is a testament to Dr. Kim’s relentless pursuit of excellence and ‘never say die’ attitude in all aspects of her life. Her motto is ‘He can do, She can do, Why not me!’”
Celebrate every living breath as if it were your last!
You have the Power in you.
What you do in your life is your Personal Choice!
He Can Do, She Can Do, Why Not Me!
Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER. As you read through this, think about what it means to truly be patient.
True patience means you keep the power turned on as you knowingly wait for what you've been working toward to appear at its appointed time. Patience is knowing the truth and expecting the truth to manifest. This knowing and expecting is part of the process of being your Silent Master. Thus, when you express true patience, you think as your Silent Master thinks.
Say you've been trying to get pregnant for a long time and are ecstatic that it has finally happened. You have a little morning sickness and at last you get over that. After three months, do you say, "Where is my baby? I'm ready to get this over with. Let's go." At five months, at six months, at eight months and beyond, you have to be patient until the baby's development is complete.
Let's take a totally different situation. Say your home was destroyed in a flood and has to be rebuilt. After the builders have started working on it for a couple of weeks, is it realistic to ask the builder, "Where is my home? Where's the finished living room? Where's the kitchen? When can I move in?" You don't do that because you know how much time it takes to build a new home. You've done your planning, you've sacrificed to make it happen and stayed loyal to your goal, and now you are patiently awaiting the conclusion of the project. When you are manufacturing a new product, you know you have to move through stages one, two, and three before you can move on to stages four, five, and six. In order to avoid a lot of frustration and anxiety about the project and instill patience, you carefully chart where you are in the process.
Your life is also a work in progress. It takes time for you to grow and mature. Everything requires a certain time frame for its completion. Although we may not be aware of the timing of the processes in our life, those stages still exist and we are moving through them. This may be a much more far-reaching view of patience than you are used to. You may think of patience as what you need when you have to wait for an hour at the doctor's office or when you have to wait in a long line at the grocery store. What I'm talking about is a whole different level of patience. Sometimes you have to be patient for years to achieve certain life goals. When you are in the middle of that process, you can't allow yourself to get easily disappointed with every delay and use that as an excuse to give up.
Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER. As you read through this, think about what it means to be specific. Can you see how important it is to identify the specific details of what you want to accomplish?
Now you know that you have the freedom to create and you know the law: what you think, you create. The fourth principle of mental conduct invites us to engage the power of our determination and, as importantly, to use our power responsibly in invoking this law.
When you decide to make a change, achieve a goal, or create something new in your life, first be sure to focus your objective clearly in your mind and be specific. At my seminars, I ask the attendees to write down their specific goals. Many times, what they write is too general and vague. You need to be specific, writing down and visualizing the exact details of what you want to achieve.
The thought "I desire a change in my social life" will take form somehow, but it may be so vague and indistinct that you won't notice a change. "I desire to meet more people" is better. "I desire to meet more people who share my interest in flying airplanes (or whatever)" is better still. If your goal is to become so accomplished in your profession that you receive an award, write down the name of the awards ceremony, the date and time it will take place, the location of the event, and the dress or suit you'll be wearing.
Focus as specifically as possible on what you want to accomplish. As I said earlier, when you want to buy a car, you identify the kind of car you want and the make, model, color, and accessories you desire. When you take a vacation, you plan exactly where you want to go, where you will stay, and how you will get there, and you proceed to make all the proper arrangements. You are being specific, aren't you? The even greater goals in your life deserve as much care and focus, don't they? Know the details about the goals you want to reach and the steps you'll need to take to get there. Be specific and then focus your will and unflinching determination behind your purpose.
Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER. As you read through this, think about changes you've experienced in your life. Do you see any rhythms in the changes?
Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER. As you read through this, think about what it means to let go of dangerous attitudes and activities that cause us pain and suffering.
Now let's look at another dimension of sacrifice - letting go of attitudes that block our progress. Letting go of attitudes is just as essential as letting go of unhealthy activities or saying goodbye to people who hinder our progress. In fact, unless you let go of certain attitudes, your physical letting go won't last very long. This concept is related to the inner power step of purity. When you let go of an attitude that is sabotaging who you want to be, you are also purifying your world of a habit pattern that has kept you hostage to limited thinking and limited living.
It's a common misconception that most of our attachments center on objects or people. The truth is that our attitudes and feelings about objects are more binding than the objects themselves. For example, we may become attached to an object, person, or situation (even if we complain about it) because we like feeling comfortable, we fear change, and we don't have the courage to take initiative on our own. Maybe we stay with a domineering boyfriend, girlfriend, or employer, even though doing so is keeping us stuck in a rut. In cases like these, fear is the real attachment, not the person.
If suddenly those people are removed from our lives but we still have not let go of our fundamental fears and have not developed the strength to stand up for ourselves, we'll just become attached to the next domineering boyfriend or girlfriend or employer that comes along - and continue to complain about them. That's because the thoughts we keep in our mind rule over us as long as we allow them to stay there, and they continue to produce the same results.
Here is an excerpt from my book, SEVEN STEPS TO INNER POWER. As you read through this, think about times when you had an intuition and didn't act on it. Did the intuition turn out to be correct?
I said earlier that your Silent Master knows when a yin or yang action is called for to create balance. Yet, how often do we find ourselves making the wrong move, increasing discord rather than eliminating it? You may even have had moments when you said, "If only I had listened to myself, I wouldn't have done that." You were probably right. You may not be aware of it, but your Silent Master speaks to you very quietly at times through the faculty we call intuition.
When you have an intuition, it feels like an impulse to say or do something that suddenly pops into your conscious mind. Generally, an intuition will feel like a right choice and will bring you a sense of serenity or peaceful resolution (even if you may not have wanted to do it.) It may feel vague, as if it's not really your own thought, but it is.
This inner "voice" is actually your inner knowing. It is your Silent Master's knowing attempting to penetrate your consciousness with its truth. It does not necessarily speak softly; it only appears to do so because your surface thoughts and emotions noisily clamor for so much attention. Clearly, if you could consistently be aware of these leadings from your Silent Master, you could make the right moves at the right time.
How can you develop greater awareness of this supremely intelligent, quiet voice? Ideally, your awareness should be like a pool of still water. Light travels easily into still water, enabling you to see right into the water. However, when the wind blows and the water is agitated or when the water is polluted, you can't see clearly what's in it. The same is true of our minds. You can make your mind like a pool of still, clean water, undisturbed by turbulent surface thoughts, free from polluting feelings and emotions, so that the light of your Silent Master can travel easily into your awareness.
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