A while back, I received an email inviting me to become an online author for a website called Success Stories. Naturally, I clicked on the link. The tagline for the website read:
“Learn from People who Already Made it”
Was this spam? Or was this a real live website? And if it was legit, why had they selected me to write for them?
What makes me successful in their eyes? Is it because I have a blog? Because I have the words Life Coach, Acupuncturist & Reiki Practitioner beneath my profile picture? Does my ability to write make me seem like I’ve made it?
If only they knew, I thought. I haven’t made it. Far from it. Then I promptly forgot all about it.
Until yesterday. When I received a follow-up email from the editor reminding me of the invitation. This time I replied, asking a few questions. What type of articles? How many words? Would I get paid?
The response I received didn’t make me want to write for them. But it did get me thinking about how I view myself.
I tend to forget about all the amazing things I’ve done. I downplay my achievements.
I compare myself to others, believing that they’re more successful, more confident, more able, more driven and ambitious. I don’t have what it takes, my inner bully insists.
Now however, I imagine how others might view me. How some people may not be able to understand why I sometimes feel afraid and insecure.
When all someone can see is a smiling picture and a job title at the top of a blog that’s been running for almost five years, they’re bound to think I’ve made some sort of a success of things.
And you know what, they’d be right. I have been creating this blog for almost five years. I set it up. I write the posts. I get myself through the experiences that inspire me. I learn from them. I grow. I share.
Yet I dwell on the parts of my life that I deem to be less than successful. But who’s to say what’s a success and what isn’t?
Some of the more difficult and less appealing things that have happened are actually the things that spurred me on to make important changes. To be brave. To be great.
Shouldn’t that be what success really means? So yeah, maybe I have made it.
Here are some things that have happened to me, for me and by me:
- I did an excellent Leaving Cert. I dropped out of college. Twice.
- I suffered from an eating disorder and depression. I took myself off antidepressants. I worked on myself. I still do. Every day. I’m happier than I’ve ever been.
- I lived in Spain and Munich. I backpacked through South and Central America. I inter-railed around Europe. I spent a summer on a Greek island.
- I married at 23 years of age. I got divorced. I’m single. I’m dating.
- I went back to college as a mature student. I’m qualified in many things. I usually get great results.
- I’ve worked lots of different jobs. I’ve left lots of different jobs.
- I have a great circle of friends.
- I set up my own business.
And you know what? I’m proud of myself. But I don’t think I’ll ever make it.
Because I’m still on a journey. And this journey can be as challenging and painful as it can be beautiful and rewarding.
I feel strong. I recognise all I’ve done to get to where I am. And I acknowledge all that I am.
I have empowered myself enough to be able to navigate my way in the world. I’m doing my best. I’m making it.
Compiling a list of all the things that you’ve been through and all that you’ve achieved is such a positive thing to do. Please make your own list. See how far you’ve come. You’re doing great.
Posted in Modern Society, Personal development, Positive Thinking
Tagged achievements, acupuncturist, ambition, antidepressants, anxiety, backpacking, beauty, beliefs, better than surviving, blog, blogging, bravery, business, challenges, college, confidence, courage, dating, depression, difficulties, divorce, doubts, drive, eating disorder, ego, empowerment, enterpreneur, erasmus, exams, fear, fears, friendship, greatness, grief, growth, happiness, inner critic, inner voice, interrailing, jobs, journey, languages, learning, leaving cert, leaving certificate, life, life coach, life coach kildare, life coaching newbridge, living, love, marriage, online dating, positivity, power, pride, qualified life coach kildare, reiki practitioner, relationships, renting, sadness, school, self-belief, self-development, self-esteem, self-pride, self-work, separation, sharon vogiatzi, Skype life coaching, strength, struggles, study, success, success story, travel, uncertainty, vulnerability, winston churchill, work, world, worry, writing
Shannon Kaiser asks: “If you were to die tonight, what regrets would you have?” Tonight, as part of a Positive Living class, we answered this question. I wrote:
“I would regret all the times I put myself through unnecessary suffering, when I could have been present instead, when I could have enjoyed the moment.
“I would regret playing it small, not going for the great stuff in life, not believing I deserved it all.”
My words surprised me. A smile stretched my lips as my pen scratched across the page. I found this exercise extremely insightful and motivating. Now, it’s your turn…
Posted in Positive Thinking, Random
Tagged death, enjoyment, insight, life, living, moment, motivation, play with the world, positive living classes, present, regret, regrets, risk-taking, self-belief, self-love, shannon kaiser, suffering
I recently ended a romantic relationship. Afterwards, I admired my ex for how fully and openly he had given his heart. He had really loved me.
Today, I realise that he had been able to love me because I had opened myself up to that possibility.
I told him things I usually didn’t speak about for fear of rejection. I cried in front of him. I shared my fears and passions, quirks and insecurities. I laughed until tears ran down my cheeks. I laid my face and body bare. I allowed myself be vulnerable. I opened myself up to love. I had to give myself credit for that.
Yesterday, as I drove across the country, I sang along to my iTunes library. My voice didn’t sound bad. I remembered that when I used to smoke, my voice had started to crack when I tried to sing. I give myself credit for giving up cigarettes. I haven’t had one in years. Yesterday, I sang for two and a half hours straight. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.
What can you give yourself credit for today? Of course, it’s easier to remember the obvious awards and qualifications and even easier to concentrate on the mistakes or so-called failures. But what about all the other stuff in between?
For me, it’s the fact that I’m now a proficient driver even though my terrified 19-year-old self never believed she’d be comfortable behind the wheel. Or how I started a blog when the guy I was seeing tried to kiss another girl. How, more than three years later, I’m totally over the guy (we’re actually friends now) and I still have the blog. How I set up Positive Living classes in my community. How my voice keeps going strong during a two and a half hour singathon. And how, after heartbreak and divorce, unrequited love and disappointment, I am even more open to giving and receiving love.
It’s so easy to berate ourselves. And so simple to congratulate and encourage others. But for some reason, we find it difficult to give ourselves credit for what we have achieved, for having tried and failed and tried again and learned from it, and tried yet again and succeeded.
We have survived decades here on this crazy planet. We have climbed, fallen, wounded ourselves, healed our hurts and gotten right back up again. And for that, we deserve to celebrate.
Posted in Positive Thinking, Random, Uncategorized
Tagged breakups, celebrate, cigarettes, congratulations, driving, failure, healing, heartbreak, hurt, iTunes, life, love, music, quitting, relationships, self-belief, self-love, singing, smoking, success, survival, voice, wounds
I had a rather interesting awareness today. I was needy. Up until very recently, I had been behaving in a needy, co-dependent manner. Throughout my life, I had a number of co-dependent relationships (not all romantic), which were safe and sweet when they were good and devastatingly painful when they weren’t.
I became unreasonably annoyed when a boyfriend didn’t contact me for a whole day. And I felt justified in my anger. He mustn’t care, I thought. If it had been a friend or family member, it wouldn’t have cost me a thought. But because he was my boyfriend, the rules changed. Boyfriends should contact their girlfriends every day. Otherwise, it’s a sign that they’re not interested. Can we take this deeper? If he’s not interested, it probably means that there’s something wrong with me. That I don’t deserve to be loved. No wonder I was angry! Which made him frustrated. And not long afterwards, he left me. My heart broke. And then it healed. I now know that he did me a huge favour. I’m glad it’s over. That’s not to say that he’s a bad guy. We just weren’t suited. Deep down, I’d always known this. I’d just become too attached to the idea of being attached that it hurt too much to detach myself.
I only realise now that I’d been acting needy. I needed constant reminders of his love. I needed to be reassured. To be held and rocked and stroked like a screaming baby, terrified of being left alone. To be left alone as an infant means certain death. But we forget that we are adults. That we are strong. Capable. Loveable. Enough. So, we wail and cry and demand attention. We get attention all right. Just not the type of attention we’d been hoping for.
The core feeling in co-dependency is a fear of being left alone. We long for connection. Because when we feel connected, we feel safe. The delusion is that we are disconnected. Separate. Alone. So, we cling to others. To the people who show us affection; to the ones who look after us, and make us feel good about ourselves. When we fear they might be slipping away; the love, security and trust that we associated with that person disappear with them. And we are left vulnerable and scared and angry that they could make us feel this way. They didn’t make us feel anything. They didn’t make us feel hurt or betrayed. They didn’t even make us feel happy or in love. We did it all by ourselves.
When you love someone so much that you can’t live without them, that’s when you’ve got to live without them. Live your life to the fullest. Believe in your power and potential. Love yourself exactly as you are, where you are. And when you feel strong enough to be compassionate, independent enough to feel connected; and when you’ve got so much love for yourself that you can accept somebody else’s love for you, then, and only then, will you be ready to enter into a healthy partnership.
Posted in Love, Personal development
Tagged adulthood, boyfriend, break up, codependency, demands, emotional blackmail, expectations, fear, forgiveness, girlfriend, guilt, health, heart break, lessons, love, neediness, partnership, relationships, sadness, self-acceptance, self-belief, self-love, separation, understanding
Why is dreaming big so frowned upon? When a child announces that he’s going to be a dancer, his parents and teachers hope he’ll grow out of it. Why is it more acceptable to say you want to be a doctor or a teacher, rather than a playwright or a photographer?
Simple. It’s because the people who care about you want to protect you from disappointment and hardship. Because your talent, no matter how much you and your loved ones appreciate it, might not be to everyone’s taste. Because so few people blessed / cursed with creativity “make it”. Because “struggling” is the most common adjective to describe “artist” or “actor” or “writer”. Because they want you to be safe and get a “real” job – one that comes with a company car and a pension. So, you’re advised to just be realistic.
But what’s realistic is acknowledging your gifts and doing something with them. What’s realistic is at least giving it a shot. What’s realistic is wanting to live a happy life doing something you’re passionate about.
Of course, it’s easier to live a normal life. Sharing your creativity means baring your soul. It means lifting the comfortable veil that most of us wear. There can be no secrets when you allow others to glimpse the depths of your emotion, the shades of your pain, the hidden creases of your heart, and the crevices of your imagination.
Sadly, many people don’t even try to pursue their passion. They know they’ve got something special but they’ve given up on it before they’ve even started. Or they’ve never had the time or space to explore their creativity. There are too many bored secretaries, frustrated sales reps and depressed accountants. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning these occupations. Creativity manifests in many forms. I’d just hope that if you work at one of these professions, it’s because order or commerce or numbers are your passion. And if not, that you’d at least humour your creative side on the weekends.
Without dreamers, the world would be a very dull place. We would never have even heard of music, poetry, theatre or literature. If nobody took a chance on their dreams, there would be no Harry Potter or Bilbo Baggins, Dracula or Holly Golightly. We wouldn’t be able to talk on the phone or fly to another continent. Andrea Bocelli would be just another blind Italian. And we wouldn’t have the likes of this.
Starry Night - Vincent van Gogh
Featured Image: Painting by Georgia O’Keeffe – http://www.artchive.com/artchive/O/okeefe.html
Other Images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/amandamabel/5597604359/;
Posted in Modern Society
Tagged actor, andrea bocelli, art, artist, belief, bilbo baggins, blind, career, child, company car, creativity, dance, dance of the sugar plum fairy, doctor, dracula, dreams, emotion, fight, georgia o'keeffe, harry potter, heart, holly golightly, imagination, italian, job, led zeppelin, money, music, occupation, pain, painting, parent, passion, pension, playwright, poetry, poverty, profession, salary, self-belief, singer, soul, stairway to heaven, starry night, struggles, success, tchaikovsky, teacher, theatre, vincent van gogh, writer