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Do You Really Mean It? - The Power of Conviction

I first read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix some time when it was just published.

I guess it’s more than a decade ago. I found this peculiar sentence toward the end of the book, said by one of Voldemort’s loyalist Bellatrix Lestrange to the titular character. Harry Potter was attempting to curse Bellatrix using one of the Unforgivable Curses after the death of someone dear to him (no spoiler!). His attempt at the curse was a feeble one, which prompted Bellatrix to say, “You need to mean them, Potter!”

Recently, I finished re-reading the whole seven Harry Potter books. I still find this sentence to be intriguing. Being an antagonist, Bellatrix has said one of the most useful things ever said throughout the series.

In this place I’m currently volunteering at, one of the things I need to do is to light the candles once they go off. I’m not good with fire. To be precise, it’s lighting candles using matchsticks that I wasn’t good with. There’s this fear inside me that once I light the match, the fire would burn the stick and my hand. On the multiple occasions that I managed to light a matchstick (after a duration of 5-10 minutes in each attempt), I threw the lighted match into the nearby sink in reflex and had to repeat the process until I was sane enough not to throw it into the sink. So pathetic and embarrassing that a grown girl like me couldn’t even light a tiny matchstick!

Frankly speaking, I could’ve asked another girl in the place for an easy way out, but I’d rather not. If others can do it easily, why can’t I? So my only option is to light the candle, taking it as an opportunity to get used to lighting the matchstick.

One day, I saw the candles were off. So I took them near the sink, my safety net. I took out a box of normal-sized matchsticks (there’s an extra long one, but I decided to use the standard size as it's commonly used), stretched my legs, took a deep breath and started to flick a match.

Five minutes later…

I was in my second match as the first one got blunt due to my flicking it. It still wouldn’t light. What’s happening? Why won’t it light? As I reflected on the process (was the matchstick dry?), I realised that it was I who sabotaged the process. I thought I wanted the match to light, but as I flicked it repeatedly, I was so afraid of the match to light, unwittingly wishing it not to light! This is when Bellatrix’s advice suddenly played in my mind. You need to mean them, Potter! Immediately, I tried again while sincerely wishing the match to light. And it did after several attempts.

Since then, I can confidently say that I can light a matchstick in a safe manner. I don’t throw the lighted match out of reflex anymore, though I still need to do it near the sink (in case). The amount of time required to flick one has drastically reduced. Most importantly, I’m actually keen for opportunities to light candles using matches whenever available.

Image by Aliko Sunawang from Pixabay

How many times do we find ourselves wanting something, but despite doing the actions that guarantee would bring us closer to what we want, we still don’t have it in our hands? Maybe we want the latest Tesla car, a penthouse, a Birkin bag, traveling around the world in xx days. Or maybe, one wants to start a business so that one can leave this sh*t job someday. Fair enough.

When we say we want something, the wish is sincere. It’s usually the actions that are somewhat incongruous to what we want. Let’s go back to the starting a business example. Let’s assume that one knows to research potential business ideas and to network with incubators/accelerators. One goes to work from 9 to 5. After work, one goes to the gym (or anything equivalent to a home gym exercises), or meetup with friends, or watching the latest Netflix show to destress from work. Then it’s time to sleep, one wakes up the next day and the cycle repeats during weekdays. Research on potential ideas can be done on Saturday. On weekends, one decides to sleep in or do anything non-work related. One is too tired to work on anything else. Until it’s time to work again on Monday. Tell me, if this keeps going on, when will one starts business to quit the sh*t job?

So what can one do, if one knows what one wants and what to do? One can be mindful of one’s thoughts during the actions. Does one really mean it? Or does one is actually afraid of doing things outside the routine? Whatever that is, you need to mean them.

Do you have a similar episode when you realise that things don’t work out because of yourselves? Share your story and what you’ve learnt in the comment below.

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