I am learning to be with success. I feel like a child entering a new world for the first time. What does success mean to you? To me it means mostly inner peace. To feel whole, at ease with myself, to welcome all experiences that arrive, to reject or cling to nothing, to be physically safe, to be in harmony with others and to be free from the prison of worry and fear.
Having put most of my focus on the inner peace side of success, I have found that success in this area has had a surprising knock on effect on creating success in other areas.
As a devoted ‘struggle junky’ for most of my life I have definitely struggled to even allow the faintest hint of success into my life. ‘Conflict is growth’ was my motto, and difficulty and drama was the result! It did lead to a lot of learning for sure, and also a lot of pain. I decided at one point that I did not need pain to learn to the same extent, that I could co operate with what life wanted to show me instead.
I still do not know what success looks or feels like in some areas of life, like marriage or romance. I am getting used to what it feels like in other areas though, such as my relationship with myself, with my family and I no longer struggle with lack of money. I am learning to allow it all in bit by bit, no rush. It is a thrilling inner adventure that I am on. The fear can easily become excitement IF I remember to breath!
Although success is welcomed on a conscious level, on a subconscious level, since it is unknown territory, it is very very scary to me. It is not what I am used to. My early conditioning, and the level of success I saw around me became what was expected.
It defined an upper limit to my joy, inner peace and prosperity. It taught me that life was a difficult struggle, that relationships, especially romantic ones were unpredictable, unreliable, full of conflict and brought pain. It taught me that pain could come ferociously at any minute and unpredictably too (mum with an unhappy marriage, a bad temper and quick to hit me). I had to be on hyper alert for this, and I maintained a level of stress throughout most of my life as I scanned the environment for potential threats.
This main influence was mitigated to a large extent by my close relationship with my grandmother. This has helped me a lot to slowly move through my self imposed upper limits. I did have an alternative role model. My grandmother had great joy, she loved nature and beautiful gardens and architecture, she collected antiques, she had a happy marriage, she took us to the countryside to explore and she did whatever she wanted. And she also lived in a luxurious large house in the best area of town.
This morning a huge 7 page illustrated feature came out about my work in a high end magazine. All about me, wow. How does this feel? It feels exciting to read about myself and to be recognised and worthy of such an article in that magazine. This feeling of success stimulates scary thoughts ‘dangerous territory!’ ‘where is this going?!’ ‘watch out, pride comes before a fall’, ‘the more successful you are the more painful failure is, safer to continually fail, and you get sympathy from others too’, ‘you will alienate your friends, they will feel jealous or envious’. I watch them come and go and try to press on me.
I have just been given the go ahead for 2 big projects in the last weeks too. This is unusual for this time of year when we are normally quiet and I even often make a loss due to less work and bad weather conditions. I have built in a large contingency for the weather to reduce the risk. That is not something I used to do. Life was dangerous after all, and I lived on the edge, why try and manage risk? Well now I am more friendly to myself and the idea of managing and reducing risk and sharing it with my clients rather than shouldering it all myself seems more fair.
Gay Hendricks has a wonderful book all about this subject, called The Big Leap which I highly recommend.