How were you raised? Did your parent's encourage and believe in you? Did they help build your confidence in facing situations? My mother was a somewhat fearful person, she didn't have a great deal of self-esteem. My father was cautious and over-protective in the sense that he wanted to make sure we avoided all harm.
I was raised with the "don't try that/don't do that/don't get involved with that" mentality, because you might get hurt in one fashion or another. I was led to believe that life was somehow bigger than me, and that if I tried something new I was unlikely to be to handle it; I might get hurt... I might even fail. Failure was to be avoided in those days, it was not seen as a "learning experience" as we tend to view it today.
Obviously, parents need to protect their children from doing things or becoming involved with people that present serious danger. We don't let our children play in the busy streets, nor get into a car with strangers, but there are also healthy risks that can be fun adventures and provide opportunities to grow self-confidence and learn from our mistakes.
My father conveyed the message (even if not intentionally) that we really weren't capable of accomplishing basic tasks - things like riding a horse, driving his boat, or completing our own income tax forms. I did well in school, but I didn't have enough self-confidence to believe I could do something big, something great, or even something of value. I was pretty sure that anything I tried was destined to fail. I didn't know I had inner strength. I felt faulty, flawed, far less than good or perfect. I got the message loud and clear that I didn't measure up to my parent's expectations, and I carried that message in my heart and head for many years to come.
While my parents were religious people, I can't say they were spiritual people. Their faith was more about rules of conduct than it was about the power of faith and the love of God. In the Protestant Church, God is often portrayed as someone to be feared, much as I at times feared my own father. God was not the essence of love and caring, not a refuge, not a source of strength. We never talked about things like that at home, or about dealing with life.
My mother crumpled under the pressures of her role and relationship, and my father viewed her as weak. In the tradition of men at that time, he posed a figure of stalwart strength and determination. I can count the times I saw my father cry on one hand. We heard a lot of "you can't" and "don't do it" messages growing up, but didn't ever hear "I love you", "I believe in you", or "you can do it." I don't fault my parents, I don't think they realized back then how important it is to a child's sense of worth and wellbeing.
It only follows that as an adult I remained in that mindset... accepting the things that befell me as my fate, feeling battered by life, but not realizing that I had the wisdom and strength within me to stand up and fight back. I felt powerless, and people took advantage of that weakness. I listened to the wrong people for advice, and I failed to listen to my heart.
It wasn't until I was much older and had lived thru a series of abusive and traumatic relationships that I realized I had the power and the ability to take life by the horns and face it head on. I learned that I didn't have to be a doormat, I could instead be the doorman of my life - the one who chose to open or close a door. Life didn't have to happen "to me", I didn't have to be a victim. I could take charge of my life and choose how I responded to what it brought my way. I could climb out of the mudpit I'd been stuck in all my life and become a survivor!
Nowdays I spend my time here in blogsphere, and in real life, preaching the gospel of encouragement... telling stories about my life, and trying to support and uplift others who are struggling, so that maybe they can see a glimmer of hope and began to believe that they too can change the direction of their lives. It takes faith, it takes courage, it takes hope... and sometimes it takes someone who is willing to reach back down into the mudpit and offer a hand and a hug.
No matter how many times in your life someone has told you that you can't, I am here to say "YES YOU CAN!"
I'm linking up with Sunday Scribblings where the prompt this week is "mud".