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I’m a failure.

I’m stupid.

I’m not worthy.

I’ll never get what I want.

People aren’t interested in what I have to say.

Do any of these messages sound familiar?  Most of us have them in one variation or another.  This form of negative self-talk gets repeated over and over many times a day, at an unconscious level and erodes our confidence and saps the life right out of us!

Haji Mirza Haydar-‘Ali was initially a disciple of Karim Khan, the Shaykhi opponent of the Báb. But after studying the Bab’s Writings and seeing the behaviour of the martyrs, Haydar-‘Ali became a Bábi. When Baha’u’llah declared Himself to be the Promised One, Haydar-‘Ali accepted Him and met Baha’u’llah in Adrianople. He was sent to Egypt where the Persian consul had him arrested. At the end of ten years’ imprisonment in the Sudan, he was sent by Baha’u’llah to Persia and Iraq where he spent some twenty-five years travelling throughout the land, encouraging and inspiring the Persian Baha’is. After the passing of Baha’u’llah, Haydar-‘Ali devoted himself to ‘Abdu’l-Baha and was a staunch defender of the Covenant. He spent his last years in Haifa where he became known as ‘the Angel of Mount Carmel’ and wrote his memoirs, The Delight of Hearts.

Even though he was a staunch and loyal Bahá’í, he too had his struggles, as Adib Taherzadeh recounts:

In the early days of the Faith in Isfahan, when I began to study the Tablets and Writings of the Báb, and listen to the explanations of the friends, I found the proofs of His Revelation convincing and conclusive and the testimonies supremely sound and perfect. So I was assured in myself that this Cause was the Cause of God and the Manifestation of His Grandeur, the dawning of the Day-Star of Truth promised to be revealed by the Almighty. But when I was alone with no one to talk to, I was often overtaken with doubts. The idle fancies of my past life, and the whisperings of the evil one were tempting me… God knows how much I wept and how many nights I stayed awake till morning. There were days when I forgot to eat because I was so immersed in my thoughts. I tried by every means to relieve myself of these doubts. Several times I became steadfast in the Cause and believed, but later I would waver and become perplexed and dismayed.  (Adib Taherzadeh, Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, v2, p. 197)

Morty Lefkoe,  in his ground-breaking work on eliminating the barriers to natural self-confidence, suggests these are some of the 19 meaningless interpretations we gave to events that that had no meaning. These events usually occurred during childhood, and although they were just events, we ascribed meaning to them which, over time, eroded our self-confidence.  He has helped people get their self-confidence back, quickly and permanently, one belief at a time, in 30 minutes or less per belief.  I recommend his program highly.  Click here to try it out for yourself, by eliminating the first belief for free.

Believing the meanings we told ourselves is one way we abase ourselves and it prevents us from attaining the nobility for which we were created.  These “idle fancies” are lies, born by our lower nature and as long as we continue to believe them, we will be prevented from improving our lives or the society around us.

The House of Justice has told us that these erroneous assumptions about human nature so permeate our lives that they have become fact:

Alas, notwithstanding the laudable efforts, in every land, of well-intentioned individuals working to improve circumstances in society, the obstacles preventing the realization of such a vision seem insurmountable to many. Their hopes founder on erroneous assumptions about human nature that so permeate the structures and traditions of much of present-day living as to have attained the status of established fact.  (Universal House of Justice, Ridván Message 2012)

These false beliefs reflect a distortion of the human spirit and not its essential nature

A layered veil of false premises thus obscures a fundamental truth: The state of the world reflects a distortion of the human spirit, not its essential nature.  (Universal House of Justice, Ridván Message 2012)

The good news is that there are concrete steps we can take to transform these negative beliefs without necessarily going through Morty Lefkoe’s course.  The simple solution is to have a real and living belief in your religion and the Prophet Who brought it, which will change our thoughts.

The inestimable value of religion is that when a man is vitally connected with it, through a real and living belief in it and in the Prophet Who brought it, he receives a strength greater than his own which helps him to develop his good characteristics and overcome his bad ones. The whole purpose of religion is to change not only our thoughts but our acts; when we believe in God and His Prophet and His Teachings, we are growing, even though we perhaps thought ourselves incapable of growth and change!  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 208)

The best way to do this is by understanding what’s true.  In this article, I hope to take each “lie” and show the truth, through the eyes of God, so that we can renew our minds and change our actions.

The lies we tell ourselves include:

 I’m not good enough.

The truth is that God created you and His work is perfect:

Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. Rise then unto that for which thou wast created.  (Bahá’u’lláh, The Arabic Hidden Words #22)

With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof.  (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words 12)

 Nothing I do is good enough.

The truth is, it doesn’t have to be!  All God wants from us is that we strive:

We should try and make every stumbling-block a stepping-stone to progress.
(Shoghi Effendi, Living the Life, p. 26)

The House of Justice asks us to point out that the recognition of the Manifestation of God is but the beginning of a process of growth and that as we become more deepened in the Teachings and strive to follow His principles, we gradually approach more and more the perfect pattern which is presented to us. Bahá’u’lláh recognizes that human beings are fallible. He knows that, in our weakness, we shall repeatedly stumble when we try to walk in the path He has pointed out to us.  (Letters of The Universal House of Justice, 1993 Jun 05)

 What makes me good enough or important is having people think well of me.

The truth is:

To be approved of God alone should be one’s aim.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, Vol. 6, No. 6, p. 44)

At all times seeking the approval of men is many times the cause of imperiling the approval of God.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Star of the West, June 24, 1915)

 What makes me good enough or important is doing things perfectly.

The truth is:

We humans are never going to become perfect, for perfection belongs to a realm we are not destined to enter.  (Shoghi Effendi, Unfolding Destiny, p. 453)

Change is difficult.

The truth is:

Change is an evolutionary process requiring patience with one’s self and others, loving education and the passage of time as the believers deepen their knowledge of the principles of the Faith, gradually discard long-held traditional attitudes and progressively conform their lives to the unifying teachings of the Cause.  (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 620)

God does not change that which a people have, until they change what is within themselves.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Bahá’í Scriptures, p. 407)

 Mistakes and failure are bad.

The truth is:

The Cause is not so fragile that a degree of mistakes cannot be tolerated.  (Universal House of Justice, Unlocking the Power of Action)

A wide latitude for action must be allowed them, which means that a large margin for mistakes must also be allowed. Your National Assembly and the Local Assemblies must not react automatically to every mistake, but distinguish between those that are self-correcting with the passage of time and do no particular harm to the community and those which require Assembly intervention.  (Universal House of Justice, Unlocking the Power of Action)

I’m not important.

The truth is that God created us because He loved us and we’re important to Him:

Rejoice thou with great joy that We have remembered thee both now and in the past. Indeed the sweet savours of this remembrance shall endure and shall not change throughout the eternity of the Names of God, the Lord of mankind.  (Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 245)

At all times do I speak of you and call you to mind. I pray unto the Lord, and with tears I implore Him to rain down all these blessings upon you, and gladden your hearts, and make blissful your souls, and grant you exceeding joy and heavenly delights. (Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 37)

Indeed could ye but know how dear ye are in the presence of your true and heavenly Father, ye would stretch forth your wings and take your flight. (‘Abdul-Bahá, Fire and Light, p. 23)

Now I say unto you, bear this on your hearts and in your minds. Verily your light shall illumine the whole world, your spirituality shall affect the heart of things. You shall in truth become the lighted torches of the globe. Fear not, neither be dismayed, for your light shall penetrate the densest darkness. This is the Promise of God, which I give unto you. Rise! and serve the Power of God! (Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 168)

I’m not capable.

The truth is:

In brief, do thou not look upon. .. thy limited capacity; look thou upon the Bounties and Providence of the Lord of the Kingdom, for His Confirmation is great, and His Power unparalleled and incomparable.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, To Move the World, p. 7)

There are no shortcuts, no formulas. Only as effort is made to draw on insights from His Revelation, to tap into the accumulating knowledge of the human race, to apply His teachings intelligently to the life of humanity, and to consult on the questions that arise will the necessary learning occur and capacity be developed.  (Universal House of Justice, Ridván Message 2010, paragraphs 25-26)

 I’m not competent.

The truth is:

For the community needs financier, farmer, merchant and laborer just as an army must be composed of commander, officers and privates. All cannot be commanders; all cannot be officers or privates. Each in his station in the social fabric must be competent — each in his function according to ability but with justness of opportunity for all.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 216)

Do not forget what I have conveyed unto thee from the breath of the Spirit. Verily, it is the shining morning and the rosy dawn which will impart unto thee the lights, reveal the mysteries and make thee competent in science, and through it the pictures of the Supreme World will be printed in thy heart and facts of the secrets of the Kingdom of God will shine before thee.  (Abdu’l-Bahá, Tablets of Abdu’l-Bahá v3, p. 707)

 I’m inadequate.

The truth is, even Shoghi Effendi felt that way:

Every time one goes into the details of any particular period in the Guardian’s life one is tempted to say “this was the worst period”, so fraught with strain, problems, unbearable pressures was his entire ministry. But there is a pattern, there are themes, higher and lower points were reached. The pattern of 1922, 1923 and 1924 reveals itself, insofar as his personal life is concerned, as an heroic attempt to come to grips with this leviathan – the Cause of God – he had been commanded to bestride. Again and again he was thrown. Torn by agonies of doubt as to his own worthiness to be the successor of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, struggling with himself as had so many Prophets and Chosen Ones before him, he argued in the depths of his soul with his destiny, remonstrated with his fate, appealed to his God for relief – but it availed him naught. He was firmly caught in the meshes of the Master’s mighty Will and Testament. He hints at this many times in his letters: “the storm and stress that have agitated my life since ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s passing…” “I, for my part, as I look back…to the unfortunate circumstances of ill-health and physical exhaustion that have attended the opening years of my career of service to the Cause, feel hardly gratified, and would be truly despondent but for the sustaining memory and inspiring example of the diligent and ceaseless efforts which my fellow-workers the world over have displayed during these two trying years in the service of the Cause.” In another letter he wrote: “…looking back upon those sullen days of my retirement, bitter with feelings of anxiety and gloom…I can well imagine the degree of uneasiness, nay of affliction, that must have agitate the mind and soul of every loving and loyal servant of the Beloved during these long months of suspense and distressing silence…” That his own condition, and what he considered his failure to rise to the situation the Master’s passing had placed him in, distressed him more than anything else for a number of years is reflected in excerpts from this letters. As late as September 1924 he wrote: “I deplore the disturbing effect of my forced and repeated withdrawals from the field of service…my prolonged absence, my utter inaction, should not, however, be solely attributed to certain external manifestations of in harmony, of discontent and disloyalty – however paralyzing their effect has been upon the continuance of my work – but also to my own unworthiness and to my imperfections and frailties.” His hardest task, form the very beginning, was to accept himself.  (Rúhíyyih Khánum, The Priceless Pearl, p. 71-72)

 If I make a mistake or fail I’ll be rejected.

The truth is ‘Abdu’l-Bahá sees every effort we make, and he forgives our mistakes, as Juliet Thompson found out:

[Then ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said] “Do not think your services are unknown to Me. I have seen. I have been with you. I know them all. Do not think I have not known. I have known all. For these you are accepted in the Kingdom.” My “services”—and He knew them all! He had “seen”: seen their pitiful smallness and the lack of real love with which I had tried to serve. I bowed my head with shame. “Forgive my failures.” “Be sure of this.” After a moment He said again, “Be sure of this.” Then He dismissed me.  (Diary of Juliet Thompson)

I’m a failure.

The truth is:

He strongly urges you not to dwell on yourself. Each one of us, if we look into our failures, is sure to feel unworthy and despondent, and this feeling only frustrates our constructive efforts and wastes time. The thing for us to focus on is the glory of the Cause and the Power of Bahá’u’lláh which can make of a mere drop a surging sea!  (Shoghi Effendi, Lights of Guidance, p. 113)

 I’m stupid.

The truth is:

[‘Abdu’l-Bahá said]: “Strange indeed that after 20 years of training in colleges and universities man should reach such a station wherein he will deny the existence of the ideal or that which is not perceptible to the senses. Have you ever stopped to think that the animal already has graduated from such a university? Have you ever realized that the cow is already a professor emeritus of that university? For the cow without hard labor and study is already a philosopher of the superlative degree in the school of nature. The cow denies everything that is not tangible, saying, “I can see! I can eat! Therefore, I believe only in what is tangible!” Then why should we go to the colleges? Let us go to the cow. (Earl Redman, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Their Midst, p. 223-224)

I’m not worthy.

The truth is, none of us are worthy:

Who is there, O my God, that can be deemed worthy to be remembered when Thou art remembered, and where is he to be found who can be regarded as capable of hinting at Thy nature or worthy of mention in the court of Thy transcendent oneness? From everlasting Thou hast been alone with no one else beside Thee, and to everlasting Thou wilt continue to be one and the same. No God is there beside Thee, the God of power, of glory and wisdom.  (Baha’u’llah, Prayers and Meditations by Baha’u’llah, p. 130)

How many stories are there of the Hands of the Cause who were shocked by their appointment because knew how unworthy they were? John Robarts thought the telegraph was for his wife. When William Sears was appointed, he wrote back to the Guardian saying, “Not worthy.” The Guardian replied, “Get worthy”.  http://onebahai.blogspot.ca/2011/04/incompetence-and-overwhelmedness.html

 I’ll never get what I want.

The truth is:

Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane, things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you. Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their sustaining grace. To each and every one of them you will, no doubt, attain.  (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 329)

 I’m powerless.

The truth is, it’s true!  That’s how we were created, so that we can achieve our true life’s purpose, as we remind ourselves every day when we say the short obligatory prayer:

I bear witness, O my God, that Thou hast created me to know Thee and to worship Thee. I testify, at this moment, to my powerlessness and to Thy might, to my poverty and to Thy wealth. There is none other God but Thee, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting.  (Baha’u’llah, Baha’i Prayers, p. 3)

 What I have to say isn’t important.

The truth is:

The honoured members must with all freedom express their own thoughts.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, p. 88)

Speech is a powerful phenomenon. Its freedom is both to be extolled and feared. It calls for an acute exercise of judgement, since both the limitation of speech and the excess of it can lead to dire consequences. (The Universal House of Justice, 1988 Dec 29, Individual Rights and Freedoms, p. 7)

 People aren’t interested in what I have to say.

The truth is:

The indifference and scorn of the world matters not at all, whereas your lives will be of the greatest importance.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, p. 118)

Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words Persian 5)

Juliet Thompson tells a story about learning how much ‘Abdu’l-Bahá wanted to hear what she had to say:

Later in the morning He sent for me. My self-consciousness, my shyness had made me feel shut out from Him, but my heart had been continually crying out, with ever-increasing love, to Him. When I entered His little room and knelt at His feet and looked up into eyes of Love which I suddenly found I could meet, He put out His hand and said, “Now; now!”  I laid my head on His knee. The tears came. He lifted my face and wiped them away. “God shall wipe away all tears.” Ah, this
blessed Day!  I cannot remember exactly what happened, only that Love
immeasurable flowed out from Him and was reflected in my poor heart. One thing I do remember. When He lifted my face, while He was wiping away my tears, He said in a voice of infinite sweetness, like the sighing of the wind which “bloweth where it listeth and we know not whence it cometh or whither it goeth”: “Speak. Speak to Me!” His words in English sink into your very soul. What I lose by not understanding Persian! “O my Lord, may my life speak to you!” I cried.  (Diary of Juliet Thompson)

It’s dangerous to have people put their attention on me (something bad will happen).

The truth is:

Armed with the power of Thy name nothing can ever hurt me, and with Thy love in my heart all the world’s afflictions can in no wise alarm me.  (Bahá’u’lláh, Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, p. 208)

Forget yourself. God’s help will surely come! When you call on the Mercy of God waiting to reinforce you, your strength will be tenfold.  (‘Abdu’l-Bahá, Paris Talks, pp. 38-39)

Conclusion:

We don’t have to believe any of these lies or stay stuck.  It’s easy once we become aware of these false beliefs, to see how deeply entrenched they’ve become and to want to blame someone, but this only leads us to despair.  As Bahá’ís, we’re blessed with the ability to draw on an extraordinary reservoir of spiritual potential.

These assumptions appear to make no allowance for the extraordinary reservoir of spiritual potential available to any illumined soul who draws upon it; instead, they rely for justification on humanity’s failings, examples of which daily reinforce a common sense of despair.   (Universal House of Justice, Ridván Message 2012)

How?  The House of Justice says by

  • immersing ourselves in the Words of the Manifestations so the Creative Word of God can effect a transformation in both our inner lives and improve the external conditions of society.
  • Working in unity with those using divine precepts and collectively seeking to develop their spiritual capacities to contribute to social change

The purpose of every Manifestation of God is to effect a transformation in both the inner life and external conditions of humanity. And this transformation naturally occurs as a growing body of people, united by the divine precepts, collectively seeks to develop spiritual capacities to contribute to a process of societal change. (Universal House of Justice, Ridván Message 2012)

How has this helped you think differently about the lies  you tell yourself?  Post your comments here: