Our culture is obsessed with success.
The Guinness book of records is the third highest selling book in history.
Our culture is addicted to #1’s!
If you’re a parent then you are either obsessed with the success of your children or you live in fear of their failure. These two concepts are inseparable.
If you’re thinking about your own life just notice how much of the time you are wondering if today’s meeting is going to go well or how your latest project is going to pan out?
You get into a new relationship and you’re anxious about your capacity to make it work because you’ve had one or two, or many failures.
You are pregnant and you wonder how you are going to navigate this extraordinary emotional and physical process and how will the birth go and will you be a successful mother and if you are a father would you be able to fulfil that role adequately?
I have asked hundreds of parents what they want for their children. They all say, “To be happy.”
How do those parents feel when their kids are too sad, like they have failed as parents.
How often do you ask yourself if you’re successful at relationships in general, business, friendships, intimacy?
And when you have sufficient doubt about your success and ability to navigate these connections with other people you ruminate about them and chop yourself into little pieces as you judge yourself for not being good enough.
You might have noticed when you woke up this morning, how much anxiety you had.
For some people it’s as simple as will I survive the day? i.e. will I be able to hold myself together, or will I just simply manage to cope will the world. Will I get “applause or tomatoes?”
Which is Fritz Perlz’s definition of anxiety.
Can you see that at the most simple level this is a success – failure issue?
For other people it might be: Will I get this contract or is the project on track and is it going to fail or can I handle this difficult conflict, or do I have the skills to navigate all of the challenges of today?
Will I get closer to my partner, or should I give up trying because I will never succeed? It can be as simple as, will I succeed in getting through all of the emails that are confronting me today or will I be on time for this appointment or meeting?
It isn’t money that makes the world go round, it’s fear.
Swami Ian Brebnor
I was listening to an Adyashanti audio yesterday. He says the most incredible thing.
That life is a river and its flowing, sometimes fast and wild and sometimes calm and slow and we are standing in the middle of this river fighting it, the very nature of life.
We have belief systems about the way life should be and these beliefs systems are like an anchor which we jam down into the riverbed. These anchors are fixed and clear and firm and we love our belief systems, our opinions about how things should be.
So the river continues to flow and it batters us and beats us up because we are stuck to our opinions which are going against the flow of life, the river of life.
The river of life does what it does and we resent it.
We can’t ‘up anchor’ and just let the river take us.
So now you’re thinking, “I don’t want to be passive.”
If you are, then you are committing a binary error, thinking that there are only two options: fight the river or be passive.
The Middle Position
The middle position is floating, energised, awake, moving intuitively and wisely and powerfully and decisively, without fighting and resenting the current.
Fighting is saying: Zuma shouldn’t be doing this, Donald Trump is a moron, government is corrupt, people have no respect, there is no work ethic left any more, gay marriage is wrong, I shouldn’t be gay, why are my children sick or lazy, why doesn’t my husband love me enough, why are my friends so selfish, why is the world in such disarray, the terrorists are disgusting…
You’re in the victim position.
Every time we have a resistance to what is happening we are fighting against the flow of the river.
So you might work to depose Zuma or Trump or look to how you aren’t loving your husband, or work with your own selfishness…to do so with skill and wisdom from a place of calmness is the middle position of Mastery.
We are frightened of just surrendering to the flow, as it is. So we hold on tight and we resist it but we are bound to fail because the river, is well just the river. Life is going to do what it does no matter what we think, no matter how strong our opinion or our self-righteousness is about it.
We fight the river and we are bound to fail.
You might have stopped for a moment, sometimes and noticed how addicted and self-righteous we all are to our belief systems, these rigid and immovable stakes, planted deep into the riverbed while we are wishing that the river would stop doing what it does.
But it doesn’t stop for us, ever.
Of course at times the river is calm and things seem wonderful and we are happy, but that’s because our beliefs aren’t being challenged. That doesn’t last for long because we will feel the turmoil of the raging tide.
Addiction To Success Is Holding Onto Failure
What’s so fascinating about this whole issue is that we are addicted to success and we fear failure and we are trying to succeed at beating the world into submission but we keep losing and we think that the world is at fault rather than our anchored belief systems of rigidity.
I was working with young man the other day. He is in his second year at university and he’s struggling with exam anxiety. As we were talking I realised in a way I never had before that as he is striving for success he is embracing the fear of failure.
Because if you are desperate to succeed then the fear of failure is laminated to this desperation to succeed.
That’s the only reason that we are desperate, because we are running from the failure. If you don’t fear failure, then you might want to succeed, but you won’t be desperate about it.
The desperate attempt to escape literally drowns us and we lie there, literally gasping and grasping for an illusion.
Why an illusion, because success is just an idea, a concept. It’s a self-conscious reflection on what we have done.
It is not the doing!
The more desperate you become to succeed the more the fear of failure will haunt you and follow you. It is truly as if we are trying to run from our own shadow.
The bottome line?
To give up on the desperate need for success is to drop all sense of failure.
What Is Joy?
The above image is my all time favourite Self-Esteem picture.
I mean just look at that face.
When last did you feel like that?
If you looked deep inside, could you find that innocence, that purity?
This face typifies the joy we feel that is a-causal, before success or approval. To return to this state that perhaps we once knew as a child, is I believe one of life’s primary challenges.
I started to meditate on connecting with that which we are before the monster of success-failure rears its head and what I discovered is that the noise created by the desperation for success and the aversion to failure, drowns out the experience of joy, of just being.
The cacophony is deafening and we cannot breathe in the genius that we truly are, nor feel the beauty within and around us.
There are many beautiful posts on social media these days about kindness and love and support and caring in the world. I have a friend who lost her home in the Knysna fires and the stories of love and support there are truly amazing.
But here’s the thing, what we so often do is enjoy and appreciate this love, but then return to resenting all that does not appear to be love.
Beneath the polarities of creation and destruction, happiness and sadness, anger and reconciliation is the beauty of simply being.
We miss just this ordinary moment of gratitude for life being itself. This is even beyond doing gratitude, which can get a bit ‘tenchniquey.’
It is simply dropping down into the essence of what it means to be alive, vibrating in form, as human beings in a vast and amazing universe.
You might like the sound of this.
But for most people, it’s not so easy to do.
One of the best ways to do this is through meditation. It is discovering that there is something beyond the noise of the mind, a Stillness, a Resonance that has no interest in beliefs, in success or failure.
It is discovering that there is something beyond this idea of who I am, something broader and deeper than identity.
Another thing to do is to welcome in your desperate longing for success and your desperate fear of failure and to let both of them go, to discover that which is beyond both of them.
I’m Successful…Now What?
The extent to which we torture ourselves is quite astounding. The number of clients that I’ve seen over the years who are driving themselves towards success and then achieve it and then walk into my office and say, “So now what?” They look deflated and defeated and really sad.
They’ve been chasing this dream of success for years, haunted by the fear of failure and now they feel the pointlessness of it all.
So many motivational speakers promote goalsetting and visioning and enabling the picture of your dream to come to fruition and what they don’t tell you about is the deflation that comes at the end of the road – of course after some initial celebration.
You’ve run from this fear of failure for years and all you get for it is, “What’s the next thing that’s gonna make me feel good? I’m just tired of it all.”
In addition to meditation, you can begin to soften and let go of those anchored belief systems of victimhood that make you resist the flow of life, let go of the longing for success bound up in the fear of failure and then see if you can get into your intuitive and inspired day to day, simply being, moment to moment experience of living.
If you would like a consultation with me, either face to face or via Skype, drop me a mail at email@example.com