Are you ready for a challenge? Look at the drawing below and guess which of the two circles in the centre is bigger? Is it the one on the left? Or perhaps, the one on right? Be sure of your answer and only then read below. Don’t cheat!
When I was asked this question on some quiz site on the internet, I knew they were trying to get me to click the circle on the left. So I decided to outwit them and clicked on the one on the right! (Super smart me, no?) Imagine my surprise when the answer flashed across the screen: “Sorry, you are wrong. Both the circles are the same size!” Skeptic of the first order, I immediately drew out a ruler and measured the two (If you are like me, try it too!) and was stunned to find that indeed both these circles are just the same! Just because one is surrounded by circles smaller than itself and the other by ones bigger than itself, my perception got skewed into believing that one is small and the other is big. This puzzle really got me thinking…
So often in life I had believed that people outside me, and their opinion about me, is more significant than what I think of myself. All through school I believed I couldn’t dance. I loved dancing, I loved losing my body to the rhythm of the music, and yet, I never had the courage to try out for any of the auditions for the lovely annual dance shows in school. I would watch the graceful dancers perform with longing and imagine myself up on stage, but after all, I couldn’t dance. This belief, I identified, came from an experience in the childhood. My cousins and I were having a dance competition and each one of us would dance and the others would give scores. When my turn came, I did my best, and yet my cousins gave me very low marks. Since that day I believed that I couldn’t dance. And I didn’t dance until five years back. People outside me had unknowingly and unintentionally convinced me something about me. All because, like the seemingly small circle on the right, I believed that what others thought of me was the greater truth and what I desired for myself was just wishful thinking.
I wrote a book on breast cancer and for this I met several women across the country to get accounts of their recovery. Some women were able to overcome cancer even in Stage 4 when all doctors had given up on them. Others, whose cancer had been detected in the early stages, had succumbed. I know of at least five women personally, who overcame the disease almost two decades ago, when the doctor had given them just a few months to live. Today they are ‘living’ inspirations. I often thought to myself, what had worked? Love? Family support? Belief? Life Mission? Divine intervention? Or was it a mix of it all? Perhaps it was different for each. However, today I am able to sum up their victory in one line – one thing that was common for all. Each woman who was able to conquer cancer, had faith that she was much bigger and stronger than a few cells gone wrong. It’s that simple. Like the seemingly large circle on the left they believed, whatever may be the problem, it’s much smaller than them. They can handle it. And they did!
It’s only in the last couple of years that I have begun to realize how important it is to realize that no matter what, I need to draw the circle of my life by keeping myself at the center and realize that all the other opinions, relationships and situations are secondary to me. I earlier thought this would make me into a selfish or self centered person, however, in reality it’s quite the opposite. I have been able to, to some extent, allow my positive self beliefs to triumph over people’s negative beliefs (and my own deep rooted negative ones!) about me. I have been able to say no within the relationship and therefore not had to say no to the relationship. And I have realized that no matter what situation one is in: combating a disease or handling a divorce, grieving over the death of a loved one or trying to overcome financial debts – they will be able to overcome it provided they believe they are bigger than the problems in their lives. For me, this realization has been groundbreaking. For the first time, I have been able to gift myself the most precious present of all: a self esteem which is becoming healthier each day. So, which circle defines you at the moment?