10 Steps to Self Esteem: Bonus Step 2 - You're Worth It
Welcome to the second Bonus Step for the 10 steps to self esteem course.
You must be true to yourself.
Strong enough to be true to yourself.
Brave enough to be strong enough to be true to yourself.
Wise enough to be brave enough to be strong enough to shape yourself from what you actually are.
Most of this step is a story. Why? Because stories can impart more truths and insights than hundreds of facts and figures and explanations. So here it is.
The falcon pigeon
One rain-splashed angry night a certain falcon chick was swept away from her parents by the howling winds of a tumultuous storm.
She was of an age before flight had become part of what she knew herself to be, so she was wildly tossed and thrown about by the elements like a helpless leaf. The twists and turns of those fateful winds at last blew the chick into a certain corner of the turning world, where lived a certain community of people who knew of no other birds than pigeons. In fact, their word for ‘bird’ was ‘pigeon’. They were astonished to find our bedraggled young falcon in their midst; so very unlike how a bird was ‘supposed’ to be. An offence against nature!
But despite their surprise at such an unlikely looking bird-type thing, these folk took in the falcon chick, dried her off, fed her and protected her from harm until, eventually, as was her natural destiny, she gradually learned to fly and feed herself by copying what the birds around her were doing. Those birds being pigeons, of course, what she learned was to peck at the ground for scraps and leftovers. This fed her sufficiently, and she was plump enough, but she always had the feeling that something was missing.
In truth, the young but growing falcon had all but forgotten her origins.
Carried by the canals and waterways of life, the heavy barge of time went on its steady way. As she grew, our young falcon slowly became more aware of herself and her place among the ‘proper’ birds around her.
She saw how very different she was from them. This did nothing for her happiness. They had such beautiful neat small beaks, while she was cursed with a hideously large curved one; they had feathers that were so nice and gray and neat and short, while hers were long and wild, with strong dark colors; they could fly so beautifully slowly from tree to tree, whereas she, despite her best efforts to slow herself down to the proper speed, just could not stop herself zooming zanily high up into the sky. When she tried to tell one of the pigeons what she could see from up there, how with enormous precision and accuracy she could spot the tiniest movement or sign of life from miles away, the pigeon looked at her with a mixture of pity and fear. After all, how much vision and speed do you need to peck bits of grain from the ground?
She grew despondent. “I am nothing!” she told herself with complete and unarguable conviction one overcast day. And it seemed the pigeons were in full agreement, for they were giving her a wide berth. They didn’t bother to explain to her that they were getting rather fearful of this magnificent creature whose very shadow filled them with awe.
“I am all alone, all the birds see me as the miserable freak that I am!”
Miserable though she was, our pigeon falcon realised that she hated eating scraps. “I’m not going to eat that stuff any more!” she said to herself. And she flew up into the sky and at once saw a rabbit in a ravine and swooped down upon it with deadly intent, getting herself the best meal she’d ever had in her life. This only cast her down further. “I really am good for nothing! I’m a travesty of what a real bird should be!”
But my, that rabbit was good!
And while she perched miserably on the highest branch she could find, digesting this amazing meal before returning to her lowly place among the pigeons below, a tiny glimmer of hope, the slimmest sense of ‘something more’, burned insistently in a hidden corner of her soul, stopping her from giving way completely to the temptations of despair. Maybe, maybe...
Now it so happened that one sun-dazzling morning the king’s falconers from the neighboring kingdom came out to seek a new and glorious falcon to fly from the hand of the king himself. As good luck (in the guise of disaster) would have it, they spotted our very own falcon standing despondently in the middle of a circle of pigeons, head downcast, so very un-falcon like, pecking half-heartedly at some scraps left by the humans, like the very pigeon it wasn’t. The royal retainers thought this odd indeed, but having had no luck whatever catching any other lightning-fast sky-beast specimens that day, they felt rather lucky that this falcon seemed docile enough to cast a net over, which they did with the alacrity born of the fear of royal wrath.
The pigeon falcon was shocked and dismayed at this turn of events, but lost no time explaining it to herself. Of course, it must mean that the humans had decided to get rid of this ‘freak bird’, and who could blame them? She knew she was a freak, that she shouldn’t have been born. So she showed no sign of resistance as the retainers carried her away and put her in a large cage high up in a turret of a far distant castle.
It was then that the pigeon falcon began to wonder if she was dreaming. For in the same room was another cage, and in that cage – could this be true? what could it mean? – ANOTHER CREATURE JUST LIKE HERSELF!
This older falcon greeted her. “Ah, so you are the applicant! You should do well! You are young and strong. I can see you now, sitting proudly on the king’s arm.”
“But... but... what would a king want with a pathetic pigeon such as myself?”
At this the older falcon first looked stunned. Then he spluttered and coughed. Then he lifted up his great wings and shook them. Then he started to guffaw. He laughed so hard he fell from his perch and had to pick himself off the floor of his cage. When he had recovered somewhat, he managed to splutter, ”Pigeon! You think you are a pigeon!”
The young falcon felt a prickling of anger rising in her at this mockery – a rather welcome change, if truth be known, from her usual sense of desolation and defeat.
The older bird of prey went on: “You are no more a pigeon than I am! You are a falcon! Mistress of the skies!”
“But... but... of course I am a pigeon! I’ve always been a pigeon! I feel like a pigeon!”
“Oh, you do, do you? Really? Think about it! No, don’t think about it, feel! What do you really feel about it? Go inward, search inside yourself, REMEMBER!”
And at that our falcon, almost knocked off her own perch by the force of these dream-like words, did indeed begin to remember... the exhilaration of racing through the sky... the sharpness of sight and hearing that brought the smallest movement below to her attention... the smooth swoop of her streamlined body as she came down like an unerring arrow on the unsuspecting prey below... the powerful grip of her long strong talons taking hold... and a true sense of her own majesty began to fill her, a soaring sense of her rightful power and dignity, a recognition that, yes, she was indeed a fabulous falcon in frame and feather!
And so it was that as the king’s men came to release her from the cage and bring her at last to the royal wrist from which she would henceforth fly forth in glory, the full rightness of her new sense of herself at last reached completion.
But the manner in which our favorite falcon rose beyond even this royal role is, as they say, another story...
What is ‘worth’?
A single glass of water in a vast reservoir may seem pretty ‘worthless’. But put that same refreshing drink in front of you in the midst of the scorched and fissured hairdryer-hot drought-plagued desert, and how its worth enhances a million-fold.
Low self esteem hypnotises people to feel, and sometimes say, that they are‘worthless’.
But what does that mean?
You know by now all about unrealistic ‘all-or-nothing’ or ‘black-and-white’ thinking. But right now I want you to think really carefully about ‘worth’, because people use the term ‘worthless’ without really thinking about what a person’s value really means.
Worth and value are context driven. Finding a million dollars when you are dying of thirst in the desert will not help you in that context. All that money will be truly ‘worthless’ to you. Finding a simple source of fresh water – even if given to you by the ‘lowliest’ beggar – will have a far greater value.
Do you value yourself based on an idea of what other pigeons – sorry, people – are like? Pigeons, of course, are no ‘worse’ than falcons – just different.
If you are the one giving a thirsty person a drink of water in the desert then, in that context, you are of more value to them than anything else in the world.
In fact, when you become good at offering people something of what they truly need (love, intimacy, respect, stimulation, trust – see Step 10), the more valuable you become to them.
Think about this: You can only offer others such gifts because you already have within you all the value and ‘worth’ of the universe, whether or not you or others have yet recognised this.
A diamond lying unrecognised in the ground is still a diamond. Will you be the first to see it for what it is?
I hope you have enjoyed this second Bonus Step and will never again forget your ‘falcon nature’.
All the best.
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