When I was younger, my dad used to tell me if he could “keep me off the pole”, out of jail, and not pregnant long enough to send me to university then he would have succeeded as a father. True story. “Off the pole.” Since none of those things happened, he, and I, both feel I am very successful. (sarcastic laughter)
This got me thinking about the concept of “Success”.
What does Success really mean?
Of course we all can say that success is, at its core, about accomplishing something. But what, exactly? Professional achievement? Status? Recognition? Your ultimate purpose? Is it financial? Spiritual? Social?
Is success about having things, doing things, or feeling and being?
And in terms of quality of life - is having a happy home life a thing to consider? Is loving your children a component of being successful? Having a conflict free zone? It sure wasn’t for me and my four siblings who regularly attempted to murder each other. My childhood prompts vivid memories of getting the belt, being “grounded” a lot, and an almost constant state of yelling from parent to child, and sibling to sibling. We survived, and some of us even still talk to each other regularly. So, were we “successful” as a family?
Here’s the thing I’ve come to realize after all my reading, researching and learning -
Constructions of language get embedded into our thinking from our earliest years. These messages can be expansive, such as, “you can be whoever you choose to be,” or they can be restrictive and destructive, such as, “you can’t do that, you're just a girl.”
Our parents, friends, neighbours, teachers, and friends all participated in filling our little heads with these phrases of which our subconscious remembered snippets, maybe even taking them out of context from time to time. Yet, as we grew older, certain of those messages are reinforced consistently by the media, by families and social circles, and so they become even more deeply embedded.
What happens is that these infusions coalesce together and become a belief. So a word like “success” transforms into a definition about what success is, which is a patchwork of what others have told us about it, and we accepted it as truth - no questions asked and on we go with our lives.
But still, is it true? Because “everyone” says so?
Are starving artists always starving because it’s nearly impossible to make a living with creative skills? And so one cannot be successful as an artist - not really? And are they less successful as artists if they can't make a "good living" doing what thy love? Or is that the story we all heard, and accepted, about being creative and artistic. Because our parents, most of whom were born around WWII didn't grow up in a world world that valued painters, they valued math, engineering, and beating the "commies".
Is staying off the pole and going to university the be all and end all?
When a woman goes to university is the degree in her field more or less important than the Mrs she’s hoping to put in front of her name, because that’s how her family defines success? Or was that, again, from a generation who believed men worked and women stayed home and raised the kids. The same mindset that wanted to separate the races, and declared that only type of decent and honourable relationship was between a man and woman, preferably of the same social class and status. Is that still true today? (insert snicker)
Other ways I heard success described when I was growing up:
-Hard work pays off.
-Work hard to prove your worth.
-Indirectly implied in my culture - a man is worth more than a woman - that’s just the way it is.
-Life is hard, or no one ever said life was easy.
Also, my interaction with it -
When I was younger, my parents wanted me to be a lawyer - it was stable, made good money and they felt I was great at arguing with others so I would be “successful” at it. Their notion of success always included a pension, a ‘stable’ job as an employee somewhere. Being a “success” in my house meant having a consistent paycheck, a middle class income and not being in debt, or not in overwhelming debt; that was my ceiling and the best I should be hoping for. Being self-employed was far too risky, even irresponsible, and quality of life was hardly a thing worth consideration - it was about survival, making “ends meet”.
Are you stuck with a life sentence?
These impressions become a life sentence if a few things happen, or don’t happen.
First thing to consider is whether or not you have ever examined your beliefs around this word, this fundamental concept, or others like it. The unquestioned life can do a lot of damage because a lot of what is in your head, is not true and also not in alignment with who you really are, or simply is in serious need of an update. Would you walk around today in old clothes passed down from your grandparents? But you weren't being ironic about it? Probably not. So why carry their beliefs around in your cells?
It’s time to consider the source(s) of your belief.
These imprints affect your conscious and unconscious behaviour. In every area of your life. For example, while I feel compelled to work hard for what I get, I also have to deal with beliefs of not deserving more, because I am ‘just’ a woman.
“When it comes to making any decision about life and belief it usually comes down to one thing - from what place is the choice being made?”
Some questions to ask:
-How is the notion, the concept, the energy of “success” infusing itself in your life?
-What are some of the stories you were raised on about success?
-Do you actually believe them to be true or have you just been carrying them around simply because they were given to you and you never gave them any consideration?
-Is success about resources or the integrity of your soul?
-Do you currently have no boundaries and feel you have to “do” it all to be successful?
-If you’re not doing or showing up, are you not not earning your right to “be” to exist?
Second, and perhaps even more important than considering the source, is considering the source of your sources. (yup, the source of your sources)
When it comes to making any decision about life and belief it usually comes down to one thing - from what place is the choice being made? What might have been true and necessary for your parents and grandparents, may not still hold up now. In fact, it's more likely that their perspective is not quite relevant anymore. But even more important to consider is - what was motivating them when they made their choices about perspective and belief?
In this, because the brain is essentially binary, there are two sides from which we all choose: scarcity or sufficiency.
Scarcity is the shadow side, it’s limiting and restrictive and has three main components to it which are:
There's not enough - some will not end up with what they need which motivates competition
More is better - permission to discount those with less and judge
That’s just the way it is - helplessness
Making choices from this place is about being “safe” but also playing small. It’s why a pension and health care plan seem so enticing, especially if you want a family and you grew up being told that “dreams don’t pay bills,” creativity was not valued as a means to make a living, and feeling safe was paramount.
This place also has you wondering how worthy you even are of success, no matter how much you have in the bank. Maybe your man does step out on you, but you’re driving a Mercedes to do your shopping and spending that money, money, so who cares, right? Only, deep down, you care, don't you?
This side might also have you feeling afraid to ask for help, to ask for more, to even participate in certain conversations because you don't feel you have the right or don't belong. I know I grew up listening all the time to what a “man’s job” was and what a “woman’s role” was. Even those two subtle differences (job v role) played in my mind - with just those simple distinction, one conveyed more power and right than the other. It was definitely a case of more is better, (for the man) and there was not enough (for me) and that's just the way it is. (cough "bullshit." - excuse me something got stuck in my throat there.)
And this twisted way of thinking also has you doubting whether or not you even have the right to question this way of thinking. FYI - you totally do. And should.
How many times have you passed up on an opportunity for development, or fun, or something you desired to experience in life because it bumped up against one of these restrictive components? In what ways are you afraid to assert yourself in an aspect of your life you dream of experiencing but hide away because it isn’t ‘realistic’ or inline with your current and probably non-updated definition of “success”?
Left unchecked in our subconscious minds, these outdated programs from times and spaces, and “stories” that no longer exist and certainly have no rightful place in our future will continue to influence and dictate much of the way we respond to the world.
Luckily, there are two sides, and the other one here is sufficiency.
“Sufficiency is a context we bring forth from within that reminds us that if we look around us and within ourselves, we will find what we need. There is always enough. When we live in the context of sufficiency, we find a natural freedom and integrity. We engage in life from a sense of our own wholeness rather than a desperate longing to be complete.” Lynne Twist
Sufficiency brings light to the truth which is, we can operate from a place of helplessness and resignation OR from possibility and self-reliance. We are empowered to author our own story.
Not sure if that memo is actively going around yet or not, but it's true. Even if you've been doing something one way for a long time, even if it was handed down to you and you love who gave it to you - if it's not working for you, you can change it -you're allowed. That's not a rumour, that's legit.
This is how it is - isn't really a thing we HAVE to do. I wanted to clear that up because it seems like it's been causing some confusion for a lot of people. Generations ago, the people were fed that story to keep them in their caste systems, to keep them focused on the war effort and so on, but those don't exist anymore (mostly), so neither should that falsehood.
The truth is, you choose for yourself what has meaning, and how it is allowed to influence your choices and behaviours.
Sufficiency reminds us that we, as human beings, have reached a place in our development where we have the resources, where literally we could think of something one day and it could be in existence the next. (Amazon Prime anyone?)
And so our programming and definitions need to upgrade appropriately. And it doesn’t have to be either/or - it can be both/and. For example:
It doesn’t have to be “life is hard” or “everything is easy.” Neither one of these seems fun nor are they really sustainable for the long term. Being too hard gets boring real fast and even having things too easy sucks after a while because then even easy loses its value.
Yet, “Life is challenging and I’m up for the challenge,” has so much more potential and space for expansion in it. Empowerment and resiliency live here.
Or how about:
“You have to work hard to get ahead in life.” That feels so...well, hard, like I could never reach the goal. And it’s confusing, what does “work hard” even mean? Or “ahead” for that matter. Ahead of who? Ahead where?
Yet, “The more you put into what you are doing, the more mastery you gain, and the more mastery you gain, the more opportunities you will create for yourself.” Again, this feels so much better. I’m not in competition with anyone else here. I just need to focus on skill acquisition and learning deeply what matters to me. It’s not about having more or less, it doesn’t even say I need to keep at it forever to get anywhere. This statement only tells me, the more I give, the more I will develop and developing provides opportunity.
What’s the next step?
The a simple one. Maybe not easy, but simple. There are going to be tracks or mantras running in your head - it’s what the mind does.
There aren't really going to be neutral ones because, as I said, the mind is binary. This means they are either going to restrictive in nature or expansive.
And you get to choose. Your consciousness comes with this sweet function that allows you to choose what you believe in. And you can update it as often as you like, as often as you change your Insta handle even.
So, make sure you are, in fact, choosing. But before you can get to making a choice, there are a few things to do:
The first thing is to take an inventory of what your brain thinks about success.
- Journal with automatic writing (which means don't think, just let pen hit paper and see what pours out. Also - this is much more effective when done with actual pen and paper. There is a connection between the brain and the pencil that appears to not exist the same way when we put fingers to keyboards.
- Do a mind map. On a blank piece of paper, put the word success in the middle and then let you hand create lines and circles and bubbles that run off the main word. Maybe even add names of who gave you the ideas.
- Make a list of all the associations you have with "success."
- draw a picture
The next thing to do is review the list. Now that all the ideas are out of you, review what is worth putting back in. Take the time to sit with each one and see how it feels. Observe how your mind organized and categorized what "Success" means. I'm certain you would be surprised at what's lurking in your brain, good and bad.
Finally, choose. Choose what goes back in. Choose beliefs that support your growth, love, and expansion because you are a Sacred being here to explore all that life has to offer, and not get cut down or boxed in by some limiting stories passed down for generations based on an uber-restrictive notion of “this is how it is.”
If life has taught us anything as of late, it is just how untrue the statement "this is how it is" is. Life is dynamic, ever changing, surprising, and expanding - and that growth is based on the choices that came before, conscious or unconscious.
Want to feel success and be successful? Then choose a definition of success that sets you up for success (and not failure). Simple as that.
Choose what matters to you, what do you want to accomplish, what does your Sacred Soul whisper to you? What skills and talents need development to get you there? What environment supports you? What people inspire you?
Ask the questions, decide what’s for your best and highest good, and then make it happen! You are here to explore and experiment, to learn, to discover, and to create! What’s your first move to begin?
Decide what Success looks like, feels like, and sounds like for YOU. Then go make that happen.
You got this.
About the Author:
Christine is an energy healer and spiritual teacher. When you are ready to update your programming and release old, stuck energy, book a free discovery call. You deserve to feel your best!
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