The self-image is the key player in our thoughts. To understand its importance we need to turn Descartes’ maxim “I think, therefore I am” back-to-front into: I AM WHAT I THINK.
Whatever we think we are, we are. Our self-talk creates our self-image. This is because our thoughts are always directed to proving what we want to believe. So, if we think we are stupid at maths, our thoughts will automatically seek evidence that proves it and ignore evidence to the contrary. Similarly, if we think we are quite clever at maths, we will seek evidence to prove it. So, the key to releasing the poftential of our thinking is to build a confident self-image – self-belief – in which our thinking is a partner in describing who we see ourselves to be.
Self-Belief: Dumbo and the Magic Feather
In 1941, Walt Disney taught old and young alike about the magic of self-belief in his adaptation of a Helen Aberson story called, “Dumbo”.
If you don’t know the story, Dumbo is a young elephant born in a circus with very large ears. Because of his ears, he is taunted by the other animals and ends up an outcast with only a mouse called Timothy as his friend.
Timothy decides to make Dumbo happy again. One night, after drinking too much, the two friends find themselves in a tree and Timothy concludes that Dumbo only got there by using his big ears to fly. Timothy persuades Dumbo to repeat this trick but when Dumbo doesn’t think he can, Timothy has to use a “magic feather” to make him believe that he can ly. With feather in place, Dumbo no longer doubts what Timothy tells him and uses his ears to ly in spectacular fashion through the sky.
Back at the circus, Dumbo has to perform a diving stunt from a high pyramid of other elephants into a small pool of water. Timothy tells him he doesn’t have to worry because he can ly and puts the magic feather into his trunk. But on the way down, Dumbo loses the feather and panics. Timothy desperately, frantically, tells him: “Dumbo! C’mon, ly! Open them ears! The magic feather was just a gag! You can ly! Honest, you can! Hey, open ’me up! Hurry! Please!”
Dumbo falls. The crowd gasps. But just as he’s about to smash into the shallow wafter, Timothy’s words come back to him: “It’s you, Dumbo, not the feather!”
At last he lies! He doesn’t need the feather. Finally truly believing in himself, he is able to pull out of the dive and ly around the circus tent. Dumbo becomes the sensation of the circus with a private carriage on the circus train for himself and his mother and with Timothy as his manager.
Do You Believe in Yourself?
We’re all a bit like Dumbo. We’re all born with our own special gifts but because they are gits unique to us they make us feel different. In our early years, we may see these traits as curses and others may taunt us for them. But in time and with the help of true friends we can come to realize that these curses are what make us special and the things that we can git for the joy of others. On the way to learning this, we may need a few confidence-boosting tricks such as daily affirmations, reading self-help books, and employing unlikely friends. But eventually we have to take a leap. And when that moment arrives, and despite an initial panic, we’ll discover that we can do it all by ourselves, no doubts, no fears, and no magic feathers. That’s when, like Dumbo, you’ll have come home. You’ll have found yourself. You’ll have self-belief.