Now Felix Keep on Walking
Before ‘Keep calm and carry on,’ there was Felix the Cat. From my mother I inherited the last surviving little plate of a 1920s doll’s tea set. Over the caption “Now Felix keep on walking,” Felix staunchly keeps going despite the frenzy of dogs barking and other cats panicking.
Mind you, Felix looks strapping enough to handle any setback; but the kind of resilience you need to take difficulties in your stride is more to do with size of attitude than physique. If you believe that you have, or can find, the resources you need to handle a situation, it becomes manageable. And every difficulty you deal with increases your ability to rise to the next challenge.
Conversely, every upset, shock or pressure that you don’t feel able to cope with will knock your confidence and deplete your energy, until just keeping up with day to day living can become overwhelming. And then any trivial setback tends to swell out of all proportion, while your well-being and self-respect become harder to maintain.
But confidence can be learned. It is not a matter of temperament, but a way of thinking. Disheartening thoughts disempower you. They do not prepare you to cope better when difficulties arise, as they inevitably will. Many people mistakenly feel safer dwelling on what could go wrong, than imagining a happy outcome; as if worrying in advance might somehow avert disaster, or as if expecting the worst will save you from being disappointed. But when you lack confidence, you can’t deal assertively with the problems that are always snapping at our heels.
Keeping going will bring you through a situation and to another place. It means not letting yourself be daunted or side-tracked by the growling of your own regrets or resentments, or frightened by uncertainties.
Confidence means ‘with trust’. This is not the kind of trust that shuts its eyes and crosses its fingers, like the ‘peril-sensitive’ sunglasses in The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that go black in the presence of danger, so that you can’t see what you don’t want to. It is not the kind of trust that depends for its peace of mind on locks and alarms, belt and braces, insurance schemes and guarantees; or on rosy-tinted wishful thinking, either.
What you can trust is the extraordinary capacity we all have to regenerate, change, come up with new possibilities. You can trust that (like everyone else) you will make wrong decisions and be disappointed, ashamed, frustrated, like everyone else; but keep walking, and your view will change as you walk.