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The Keys to Creating Yourself in Quotes

Self-esteem, persistence, courage and belief are interrelated and inseparable keys to personal development, resilience and success, in fact to the human creative faculty itself. They are also persistently and consistently suppressed in our culture.

We are taught from an early age that our prospects in life depend on how others perceive us. We are discouraged from taking risks and following our dreams in the name of “realism” which is nothing more than skepticism in disguise. By allowing this belief structure of victimhood, dissuasion and discouragement to rule our lives, we crush our own innate creative capacity to manifest beauty, goodness and truth in the world.

It is not in the nature of human beings to experience happiness or fulfillment unless they are creating something good in the world, in accordance with the unique vision and passion that is given to each of us. This is an inconvenient truth for many societies, a disruptive and uncomfortable truth, a truth that rejects conformity and denounces the image of human being as a compliant worker in the halls of industry as a sin against human nature.

This ongoing and worldwide struggle with the forces of discouragement goes on in the battlefields of our hearts and minds and spirits. We offer these quotes as inspiration to press onward to victory in that struggle.


“I prefer to be true to myself, even at the hazard of incurring the ridicule of others, rather than to be false, and to incur my own abhorrence.”
– Frederick Douglass

“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.”
– Carl Jung

“I don’t want everyone to like me; I should think less of myself if some people did.”
– Henry James

“Don’t waste your energy trying to change opinions … Do your thing, and don’t care if they like it.”
– Tina Fey

“No man ever got very high by pulling other people down. The intelligent merchant does not knock his competitors. The sensible worker does not knock those who work with him. Don’t knock your friends. Don’t knock your enemies. Don’t knock yourself.”
– Alfred Lord Tennyson

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
– Shakyamuni Buddha

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

“She lacks confidence, she craves admiration insatiably. She lives on the reflections of herself in the eyes of others. She does not dare to be herself.”
– Anais Nin

“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
– Anaïs Nin

“Let’s remember that our children’s spirits are more important than any material things. When we do, self-esteem and love blossoms and grows more beautifully than any bed of flowers ever could.”
– Jack Canfield
“Greater self-esteem produces greater success, and greater success produces more high self-esteem, so it keeps on spiraling up.”
– Jack Canfield



“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”
– Winston Churchill

“Let the man who has to make his fortune in life remember this maxim. Attacking is his only secret. Dare, and the world always yields: or, if it beat you sometimes, dare again, and it will succumb.”
– William Thackeray

“The majority of men meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail.”
– Napoleon Hill

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.”
– Japanese Proverb

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
– Albert Einstein

“Saints are sinners who kept on going.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson

“It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare.”
– Mark Twain

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”
– Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird


“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
– Winston Churchill

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
– Anaïs Nin

“Freedom lies in being bold.”
– Robert Frost

“It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”
– Erma Bombeck

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.”
– C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

“Courage and perseverance have a magical talisman, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into air.”
– John Quincy Adams

“Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage.”
– Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War

“The only tyrant I accept in this world is the ‘still small voice’ within me. And even though I have to face the prospect of being a minority of one, I humbly believe I have the courage to be in such a hopeless minority.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

“The potential of the average person is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good.”
– Brian Tracy

“Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of Liberty.”
– Thomas Jefferson

“Cowards die many times before their deaths. The valiant never taste of death but once.”
– Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

“A man of courage is also full of faith.”
– Marcus Tulius Cicero

“Courage consists not in hazarding without fear; but being resolutely minded in a just cause.”
– Plutarch


“More persons, on the whole, are humbugged by believing in nothing, than by believing too much.”
– P. T. Barnum

“What we can or cannot do, what we consider possible or impossible, is rarely a function of our true capability. It is more likely a function of our beliefs about who we are.”
– Anthony Robbins

“To believe a thing is impossible is to make it so.”
– French Proverb

“If you develop the absolute sense of certainty that powerful beliefs provide, then you can get yourself to accomplish virtually anything, including those things that other people are certain are impossible.”
– Anthony Robbins

“One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only interests.”
– John Stuart Mill

“If you believe in what you are doing, then let nothing hold you up in your work. Much of the best work of the world has been done against seeming impossibilities. The thing is to get the work done.”
– Dale Carnegie

“Men often become what they believe themselves to be. If I believe I cannot do something, it makes me incapable of doing it. But when I believe I can, then I acquire the ability to do it even if I didn’t have it in the beginning.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

“I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day.”
– James Joyce

“The thing always happens that you really believe in; and the belief in a thing makes it happen.”
– Frank Lloyd Wright


We see from these quotes not only the importance of these four keys to the creative force, but their interrelation. Courage rests on self-esteem, persistence arises from belief, and each of these qualities multiplies each of the others. We also see traces of the correct and incorrect forms of each of these qualities, as in Twain’s quote about moral and physical courage. It is also clear that an academic, intellectual belief is not the kind of belief that can change the world. Hopefully, these quotes will inspire you to cultivate the sort of belief that can.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Resilience Secrets from a War Zone: Casting Out Fear

There are basically two ways in which we can choose to live our lives: in courage or in fear.  We can either create our own lives or be victims trapped within them.  I’ve written previously about the importance of cultivating courage in a deliberate way.  Today we’ll look at one of the truly outstanding examples of courage in our time.  Malalai Joya has spent her life in the most apparently hopeless set of circumstances, yet through courage, she has managed to create a better reality not just for herself, but for hundreds of thousands of other people.

Malalai was born in a village in western Afghanistan in 1978.  Less than a year later, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.  As a student, her father had been an activist arrested for participation in pro-democracy demonstrations, and would lose a leg fighting with the resistance against the Soviets.  After the Soviet withdrawal and ensuing civil war, the fundamentalist Taliban took control of the country, outlawing the education of women and preventing them from taking on any meaningful public role.  And then came 9/11 and the invasion by the United States, who turned for help to the criminal warlords whom the Taliban, if nothing else, had kept in check.  It may seem that there could be no more hopeless situation into which one could be born, particularly as a woman.  Most of us in that situation, if we were fortunate enough to be educated, would probably try to get out as fast as possible.

As a teenager living in a refugee camp in Pakistan, Malalai took a job instructing older refugee women in basic reading and writing.  Her father had always encouraged her to read and attend school, and thus she was more literate than many of her elders.  From this experience, she began to understand the power of education to change people’s lives.  Malalai also began reading biographies of resistance leaders, including Ghandi and Nelson Mandela.  They impressed her with their steadfast approach to dealing with injustice, and her reading list during this time suggests that she was deliberately cultivating the same quality of resilience.

When the Taliban took power, Malalai joined an organization dedicated to the advancement of women, and returned to Afghanistan, to Herat province, to teach in underground schools for women.  Despite the probability that she would be killed or imprisoned if she was found out, her family supported her decision and resolved to move back with her.  Teaching girls in basements, concealing forbidden books under her burqa and recruiting pupils by word-of-mouth, Malalai rose to become regional director of her organization just before the Taliban fled the American invasion.

With the Taliban gone, all the warlords came back to their fiefdoms and the weak central government not only did nothing about it, but allied with them.  At this time, Malalai became a public figure, spearheading clinics, orphanages and other important humanitarian measures in the region, getting things done despite the novelty of being a woman in such a position.  Seeing the direction her country was headed thanks to the fundamentalist warlords and the willful blindness of the Americans, Malalai decided to put herself up as a candidate for the Loya Jirga, the constitutional assembly.  She had no illusions that she could cause it to change course- she went only so that one person would speak the truth.

Of all of her district’s candidates, only Malalai spoke about the need to deal with corruption and to give women equal rights.  She won by a considerable margin.  Even then, the UN workers organizing the election warned her to be more circumspect in Kabul for her own safety.  In Kabul, she saw an assembly stacked with warlords whose ongoing abuses of human rights she knew all too well.  When it was clear that only the warlords and their supporters were being given a chance to speak, she approached the Chairman and argued guilefully that the younger delegates hadn’t had a chance to speak.  Once she had the microphone, Malalai denounced the corruption of the assembly in stark terms:

“Why are you allowing the legitimacy and legality of this Loya Jirga to come into question due to the presence of those criminals who have brought our country to this state?”


When her microphone was cut off prematurely, pandemonium was unleashed, but other delegates came forward to shield her physically from the angry mob.  She was ejected from the assembly, and that night there was an attempt on her life.  But her words were heard around the world, and more importantly, by ordinary people around Afghanistan.  Thousands of people, men and women, from fellow delegates to taxi drivers to old mujahedeen, found ways to express their support.  Wherever she went, huge crowds were there to greet her.

There has been much more to her journey in the years since that time- Malalai sat for a term in Parliament and has been finding new ways to help her people and to challenge the status quo.  She has become a unifying voice for those Afghans who want to change their reality, and a key facilitator for that change.  We in the West who have been watching Afghanistan for the past ten years must admit that it cannot be saved by any government or constitution or force of arms.  But every nation can be saved from within, if the people themselves become willing to strive for something better.  The courage of people like Malalai Joya brings that day closer.

The key is personal courage and overcoming the rule of fear.  When asked about how women can best defend their rights, Malalai said, “Once women understand that the key to freedom is in their own hands, they will dare to be brave, remove obstacles from their path, and be prepared to make sacrifices.”

We may not have warlords to fight, but fear has its claws in every human mind, preventing us from reaching our potential through internal threats just as they used external ones.  To refuse that oppression really is the first step to resilience and personal fulfillment for every person, everywhere.

Remember, courage (an essential ingredient of human resilience) is only a DECISION away.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

Want Better Quality of Life? Develop COURAGE

Courage is the very basis of true quality of life.  It is the beginning and the end of every desirable character trait you can have.  Without courage, there is no honor, no personal integrity, no loyalty, no humility and certainly no love.  

And without those, there’s no real success or happiness in life.  Only a courageous person can develop personal Resilience.  

Courage can transform any life and any circumstance from abject misery into wonderful adventure because…

Courage takes charge in every situation.  Courage calmly identifies and assesses options.  Courage expects a miraculous turn of events in its own favor… and is seldom disappointed.  Courage takes a deep breath and stays calm “under fire”.  Courage pulls people together, inspires them, motivates and galvanizes them into action.  Courage instills confidence and creates loyalty and trust.  It is the fundamental quality of a leader.  Courage creates opportunities where none appeared to exist before.  Courage gives rise to an unaccountable joy in the heart.  Courage banishes the demons of self-doubt and low self-esteem.  Courage repeatedly snatches victory from the jaws of defeat.  Where cowardice sees only huge and insurmountable problems, courage sees only fun and interesting projects.  

Acquiring Courage:

Many people erroneously assume that courage is something you either have or you don’t.  When they sense fear in their own hearts, they simply assume nothing can be done about it.  This is false.  If you wish to acquire the great virtue of courage, I’ll tell you now how to get it.  

You could say that “a hero is just a coward who’s afraid to show his fear.”  This paradoxical quip is not quite as absurd as it may seem.  As with all virtues, you have to do two and only two things to acquire this one:

First, you have to decide you want courage.  You have to decide that you’re fed up living with fear, anxiety, self-doubt and all your internal saboteurs.  How often do you experience fear or anxiety over something?  If you keep track of this for even one day, my bet is you’ll be shocked at the degree to which fear dominates your thinking.  So resolve now that you’re going to acquire courage – no one can do it for you.  You have to decide.

Second, you have to take action.  Notice that you don’t have to feel courage first.  If you wait to feel courage before you act, you’ll wait forever.  On the other hand, if you act courageously, if you dismiss all excuses, take responsibility for your own life and do what a courageous person would do, you’ll find yourself filled with a strong feeling of real courage almost instantly.

With this feeling will come a wonderful sense of taking back control of your life and your destiny.  This is a special joy only courageous people experience.  And you know what?  Every courageous person has been just as controlled by fear as you have been.  The only difference is they’ve made a clear decision.  You can too.  

Yes, there will be set-backs.  Expect them.  And pay no attention to them.  Simply continue to act the part and I guarantee you will experience amazing results.   

Here’s a video meditation on courage you may find helpful:

Courage can totally remake your life, and all it takes on your part or mine is the decision to want it and to act courageously until we in fact become courageous people.

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

When EVERYTHING Seems to Go Wrong…at Once!

Hi there,

As I just described to you in today’s email, this year’s Holy Week has more than lived up to its reputation as a time of trials and temptations. And it’s a fact of human life, no matter what your spiritual perspective, that there WILL be times when you’re overwhelmed by one crisis after another.

Fortunately, the world’s Authentic Ancient Traditions have some wisdom to share with you that will help you prepare, survive and even thrive in the midst of it all…

First, though, I need to address the obvious problem… most people are under the partly mistaken impression that spiritual life is all about finding PEACE.

Well, yes it is… but…

Keep in mind that for most people around you, their ideas of inner peace don’t go much beyond the kind of “peace” you feel when you’re sunning yourself on a tropical beach with a good book in one hand and a pina colada in the other.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to point out that that kind of “peace” is superficial. It’s really just a temporary absence of trouble.

I think you’ll agree, though, that true inner peace would have to be something so strong you couldn’t lose it because of changes in your circumstances. Otherwise it wouldn’t be true inner peace at all, just an imitation. So let’s dig a little deeper.

The next level of inner peace is the deep calming of your central nervous system. This is already a great thing in our culture because so few people ever experience it. Hara is one of the most effective ways to pursue this kind of peace.

Peace in the sense of deep calm in your central nervous system is usually a prerequisite for spiritual progress, but it’s not the deepest level of inner peace. And that makes sense, of course, because, no matter how profoundly calm your nerves are, you can still lose that peace.

So the ultimate level of inner peace has to be so strong that it renders you invulnerable. It has to be a peace that “passes all understanding”, as Christ said; otherwise it’s bogus. This kind of peace only comes as the fruit of consistency in the practice of meditation and/or noetic prayer.

The catch is this: meditation and noetic prayer are tools for bringing the ultimate experience of inner peace. However, they do this by acting as “drills” that dredge up a lot of supressed emotional garbage so that this very garbage can be processed, integrated and transformed.

And that’s partly why people in deep spiritual practice feel so “set upon”, especially in the early stages. They’re dealing with the darkness within. This tends to leave you with the feeling that the universe itself is conspiring against you! Actually, in a certain sense, the universe is conspiring FOR you; it just doesn’t feel that way 😉

You see, all these trials have a huge benefit that you don’t sense when you’re in the middle of them. Slowly but surely they’re detaching you from your attachment to results, your attachment to your own addictions, from your attachment to this short and transitory life itself. This is part of getting you “unstuck” from the world of time and space and focusing your gaze on the transcendent reality.

In other words, you’re being pulled towards enlightenment. You’re being made spiritually strong, invulnerable to your environment and turned into a tested and proven warrior, capable of leading others.

Here are some tips from Ancient Traditions about how to make the journey easier:

1. Practice your spiritual discipline at every opportunity, whether you “feel like it” or not.
2. Expect challenges more than peace and learn to enjoy and thrive on challenge. This will give you courage.
3. Set challenges for yourself, especially physical ones, and use them to hone your Warrior’s spirit.
4. Remember that every challenge conceals benefit for you within it. This will give you fortitude.
5. Keep yourself in good physical shape – without this you automatically begin to feel weak and powerless.
6. Stick to your program of regular exercise, regular spiritual practice and a good diet – this above all functions as a WALL around you.
7. Remember, that in a spiritual battle you can be lose over and over again without being defeated. The only defeat is giving up. Stand your ground no matter what. This will teach you faith, because if you stand your ground – meaning you maintain your meditation / prayer – you’ll see yourself miraculously rescued time and time again.

Momentarily I have to leave for our main Easter service. It lasts 4 hours or so, starting just before midnight. Usually a joyful time, this year it comes on the heels of several nasty conflicts in the parish and so for me this service is likely to be a major spiritual trial.

I could choose to cower in my bed and not go. Or I can make the Warrior’s choice and “dive in”. In the words of a great spiritual guide of recent times, unless a person enters into the sea of trials armed with nothing but faith, he will not advance spiritually so much as an inch.

Diving in…

Dr. Symeon Rodger