– to reveal your true strengths
6 Ways to Overcome self-doubt – The Blogger’s Lifestyle is not just about blogging. We are not one dimensional, we are complex, imperfect beings with many facets and talents. Despite the imperfections, we are most wonderfully made with the capacity for the amazing.
Yet so often we sell ourselves short. We succumb to our surroundings or are influenced by the opinions of others. We compare ourselves with other bloggers and retreat into defeating thoughts.
There are times of brilliance, but if a venture fails, a default mechanism is that we are not good enough or we just don’t have it. The amazing just seems to evade us. Self-doubt can short circuit our potential.
Being prone to undermine ourselves, is another reason that blogging relationships are so important.
Restored confidence will unlock and reveal your true strengths. It may just take a loved one or a friend to believe in you; they are quietly and firmly confident that you can achieve what you set out to do. Sometimes the trigger comes from a mentor or role model who demonstrates the capacity of everyday people. The ability to fall, learn and get up stronger for the experience. We are looking at 6 ways you can overcome self-doubt.
This is why I have asked freelance writer and musician, Patrick Aherne, to share with you some insights gleaned from an unlikely source.
Life Does Not Have to be Perfect to Make Beautiful Music
Next to information technology, Lifestyle Coaching is the second fastest growing profession in the world according to the Canadian National Post. The local bookstore content containing subjects from motivational lifestyle to counselling are ever expanding. People are looking to live their lives more meaningfully.
As a business consultant, I have attended many motivational lifestyle seminars. I realise many lifestyle promoters communicate valuable insights into life. But, something is often missing. They lack the authenticity of a role model who has grappled with traumas and transformed them into a life full of meaning.
Disability, loss or traumatic experiences can potentially rob life of all it has to offer. People are looking to live lives with more meaning. How we perceive these experiences in our mind will determine the fullness of our lives. The blind classical tenor Andre Bocelli once said, “My blindness has never been a tragedy to me, I don’t know why it should be a tragedy to others.”
The physically impaired have much to teach us about how to live when everything is not ideal. I had often played the music of Turlough O’Carolan, the blind 17th-century Irish harper and composer. However, it was not until a recent excursion into his biography that I discovered some challenging lifestyle lessons.
In effect, he showed us how to make beautiful music in the face of life’s not so perfect backdrops, and enjoy it.
As a healthy, active young man of 18 in rural Ireland, Turlough O’Carolan had little inclination towards music, composition and even less to the harp. It is most likely he would never have become known outside of the Irish county where he lived, were it not for a significant intervention in his life.
In his eighteenth year, he contracted smallpox and almost died. He recovered but was completely blind.
With employment options almost non-existent for the blind, the wife of his father’s employer had him apprenticed to learn the harp. After three years the same lady gave him a horse and a guide and set him on the road to becoming an itinerant harper. Although he had never performed or composed music previously, he travelled throughout Ireland on horseback doing exactly that and became the most celebrated composer in Ireland.
1. The Value of Purpose and Meaning in Life
In other words, we can spend our lives travelling in circles and getting nowhere, like a dog chasing its tail.
O’Carolan recognized that there was purpose and meaning to his life in spite of the obstacles. Life’s not so pleasant incidents can often expose the real purpose for our lives. O’Carolan would have remained an insignificant farm hand, never having touched a harp, were it not for his blindness.
He was not an exceptional Harper or an earth shattering poet. It was fortuitous that his first point of call was the home of Squire George Reynolds. Reynolds suggested that O’Carolan put his mind to composing. He suggested his first composition be about two nearby hills. The young Harper accepted the challenge and composed the beautiful tune “Sheebeg Sheemore”. (Listen to this beautiful tune at the end of this page) His new patron was impressed and gave him a horse for his guides use.
This was the first of many compositions and exposed his dominant musical gift. He found his purpose, grasped it with both hands, and enjoyed fulfilling it until the end.
Life can be like that. Sometimes good contents are found in unwelcome packaging. It is wise not to become preoccupied with the packaging.
2. What Defines You?
Last year I watched a national football grand final, the game was a cliff-hanger down to the final moments. Teams were level in extra time. One team kicked a high ball on the defending team’s goal line. A young talented player from the defending side tried to catch it and dropped the ball. The crowd gasped. The devastated player wept. The ball went back to the attacking team who kicked a goal to give them a one point victory.
Some time later a reporter asked the young man who had dropped the ball losing the biggest game of the year, ‘how he felt’. He replied that he couldn’t change what had happened but had moved on from it. In other words, he was not going to allow it to define him and become forever known as “the guy who dropped the ball that lost the grand final”. Things happen that we can’t change. We can choose how we deal with the aftermath.
O’Carolan never allowed disability or hardships to define him. His infirmities were real, but they never robbed him of the spirit of adventure and the challenges that life had to offer. For fifty years he travelled over most of Ireland on horseback, meeting, performing and composing for many of the most important people in the land. He never made an issue of his blindness and once commented that his eyes had been transplanted into his ears. Disability was never a crutch or reason for self-indulgence.
3. Putting destructive thinking in its place
Like Mandela, it could be said that O’Carolan had reasons to be bitter and resentful. He was plunged into a world of darkness in his youth. As with most Irish Catholic landholders, the English invaders had confiscated his family land. Thousands of Irish were forced into exile in Europe. Penal sanctions were imposed with the intent of eradicating Irish Catholicism and Gaelic traditions.
In spite of this oppression, O’Carolan never succumbed to a victim mentality or allowed bitterness to dictate his life and relationships. He mixed as freely with patrons who were Irish Catholic as he did with the Protestant gentry. He honoured both and was honoured by both, and still held firm to his devout Catholic faith and his Gaelic heritage.
In the presence of a priest, O’Carolan once praised his Protestant patronToby Peyton. The priest expressed his dissent by being critical of Peyton. The harper/composer quickly responded by saying that all good men deserve praise. As always he would treat men as he found them and render honour when it was due.
This was indicative of the composer’s impartial attitude, even toward those who had imposed such suffering upon his people and country.
4. Laughter puts life in a clearer perspective
O’Carolan cultivated a vibrant sense of humour undaunted by life’s hardships. He was said to be a “lover of ludicrous tales, a quick wit, and a skilled satirist.” He seems to have been well known for his practical jokes and his ability to quote an extemporaneous humorous, poetic response when it was required.
O’Carolan was an acquaintance of the celebrated Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels. Swift was also a highly regarded Protestant clergyman and political satirist. He held O’Carolan in high regard. On an occasion when he found O’Carolan somewhat influenced by imbibing in Irish whisky, he rebuked his excesses.
O’Carolan placed his hand on Swift’s coat and raised his other hand to draw attention to what he was about to say. Knowing that the clergy of the day was not known for its avoidance of the drink, he then poetically responded to Swift’s rebuke:
Ye clergy who never give way to drink,
But censure our errors from last to first,
However severe your correction, I think,
That none of yourselves ever died of thirst!
Swift was disarmed by the quick poetic wit of the Irish harper.
5. Making life count by helping the lives of others count
O’Carolan made his living as a harper/composer. He married at 50 years of age and continued his itinerant work until his death at 68. In the process, he applied his gifts to bringing something special into the lives of other people. He entertained, encouraged, honoured and comforted as the occasion demanded. His compositions were often written in honour of patrons or composed as gifts. His music continues to be a blessing to many today and is played by musicians worldwide.
His presence and performances became highly regarded. Weddings, festivals and large gatherings would often be held in extended abeyance until he arrived to perform.
Although he was a self-confident individual, life was not just about himself.
6. Choose your own road
Whatever the field of endeavour, the most innovative people have always been prepared to challenge the status quo. The word traditional did not describe O’Carolan’s life and music. Bunting noted that O’Carolan was the first who departed from the purely Irish style of composition. For some, his music was too modern and not the genuine Irish traditional article. His method of composing music first and adding the lyrics afterwards was opposite to the traditional method.
He blended the extant musical traditions and went beyond to combine and change them with influences of European Baroque music. Influenced by the Italian masters Vivaldi, Corelli and Germiniani, his music added a new dimension to his predecessors and contemporaries. His music often presents unusual melodic twists and turns that are uniquely O’Carolan.
Donal O’Sullivan summed up his music well in his authoritative biography of O’Carolan:
In an age of pallid gloom for Ireland, this blind harper brought something new to his country’s music, a kind of puckish joyousness which before it has seemed to lack, with here and there a sunbeam captured from the perennial sunshine of Italy. He made many a noble song in praise of fair women and gallant men, now long dead, whose names still live in the grace and charm of these melodies.
Over 200 of his compositions have been recovered and are available today. Although only the melody transcription is available, they have been arranged for a vast array of instruments from harp to guitar.
Life does not have to be perfect to make beautiful music. If ever a life demonstrated this truth, it was the life of the great Irish harper and composer Turlough O’Carolan. (1670-1738)
Carolan. The life, Times and Music of an Irish Harper. By Donal O’Sullivan. Ossian publications. 2001.
Patrick Aherne is a freelance writer. He writes from a comprehensive perspective having travelled and lived among varied cultures. He is an experienced speaker and teacher.
From the perspective of Bloggers Lifestyle, here is a summary of 6 ways to overcome self-doubt
– and reveal your true strengths
1. The Value of Purpose and Meaning in Life – As a writer, you have the opportunity to find your voice giving your life purpose and meaning.
2. What Defines You? – Let your values and character define you, not events.
3. Putting destructive thinking in its place – to discipline your mind leaves no room for poisonous resentment.
4. Laughter puts life in a clearer perspective – Laughter and a sense of humour help wipe away the negative influences. The best medicine.
5. Making life count by helping the lives of others count – Blogging is an art form with endless opportunity to give, help and encouragement to others at the same time enriching your life.
6. Choose your own road – Learn from others, be creative, ultimately making your own path forward.
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Interested in listening to some of O’Carolan’s beautiful compositions? Here is a treat for you.