What is success then?

People (including me) talk a lot about how we create our own reality as a reflection of our inner core beliefs. On a simplistic level: I believe I’m not good enough and the world hates me, so I will experience life as hateful and I will fail; or I believe I am good enough and life is abundant, so I experience no lack anywhere in my life and I am successful. But is this the whole story? It seems to be more complex than that. Deeper.

Last week was possibly one of the most successful of my career so far. (Landing around £90k for the charity I work for and, jointly with another colleague, over £150k which will launch a new befriending service for Teesdale. And also, a great turn-out at an engagement event). And it’s really made me ponder my whole new relationship with what I’ve thought of as failure in my life. Plus, I had some lovely feedback from people who know me from a point in my life which was, to say the least, choppy emotionally.

My negative self-talk has had the habit of telling me that I fail at stuff. Failed to apply for the Art Therapy job, aged 29, that would have launched a career in my chosen profession. Failed marriage. Failed at pregnancy. Failing to paint all the paintings that are in my head. Failing to be under 9 stone (that’s been going on since I was around 19). Failure to stick at a job for more that 4 years. Failing to get things done. The list goes on. You get the drift.

But this isn’t at all how I am perceived by others. And it’s not even the reality of my life. I have truly been successful in my work with charities. I can see where I have made, and continue to make, a difference. I’m a loving aunty and friend, and supporter of many. I’ve done some great creative work. I have made beautiful things. I have a loving husband and a funny dog, (always delighted to see me unless they’re asleep), a sweet house, clucky fluffy chickens, and supportive friends who love me.

So how does this reality reflect this negative failure-based self-talk? It doesn’t. Something else is going on. It’s surely only my perception of my life so far that has been based on my core belief that I’m not good enough, rather than actually having done it all totally craply.

It’s a bit like the conversation I had some years ago with my old school pal Ruth. I commented that I was painfully shy and lacking in self-esteem as a girl. She was a bit Gob-Smacked (well, let’s say Quite Surprised as Ruth is way too refined, I feel, for the word Gob to be applied comfortably). The girl she saw was confident: out there on the stage singing, getting boyfriends and discarding them, walking it in the A-stream where we shared a desk.

How we are perceived by others and the way we learn to present outwardly can cover up a fearful inner state. And the way we perceive ourselves can be utterly wrong. My self-talk was focussed on the things I wish I had done differently or better, times I wish I’d been braver, on mistakes made and opportunities missed. Really it is quite curious, and also hilarious (one of my much-used favourite words). How many of us walk through life never noticing that it’s often, and often only the voice in our head that is holding us back?

Meditation really helps me to keep Ethel, my negative Self-talker, in check. Wild Therapy has helped me step back more firmly into the power of my True Self. And gradually, I can simply choose not to listen to Ethel and get on and do all the things I want (and wanted) to do. Stepping past the fear and doing it anyway. It’s a bit of a cliche I know, but a useful one.

So I started writing this Blog mostly for Ethel, my inner risk-averse scaredy-cat. To let her know she’s OK, that she’s loved, and to thank her for protecting me so often.

The real success here, of course, isn’t the things I have done, or may DO. It is that I have conscious awareness. I can just BE (myself). See the negative-Ethel-chatter for what it is: just old habits of self-protective thinking, arising from stuff that has happened along the way.

The real success here is Love for Life over Fear of Life.