If I had the ability to remove two words from my vocabulary they would be: Success and Failure.
These two words have plagued mankind for centuries. These words have been the “worthiness barometer” for countless masses of men and women before us. These words get injected into our vocabulary at an early age and begin to form the parameters of our life experiences. Success and Failure are symbiotic, you can’t have one without the other. The duality of Success and Failure shape one of life’s greatest false perceptions. We begin to form our identity based on our own worldly perspective. We learn to compare our experiences to those who are around us. We learn to take note of the validation; the criticism and the praise we receive from those we trust and respect. We measure our performance and we value our experience based on these inputs.
These two words form the illusion of self-worth.
The problem with these two words is that their existence is wholly supported by judgement, which is totally subjective and only able to provide a comparison to something other than self. You see, these two words have nothing to do with ourselves, yet we have allowed them to become the yardstick that measures our self-worth?
Imagine how removing the words “Success and Failure” from our vocabulary would serve our growth interest?
This would allow us to appreciate and marinate in our experiences. We would be able to find pleasure in these experiences for what they are, free of any judgement. What if we had a healthy positive mindset about our outcomes, knowing that we might not meet or possibly exceed our own expectations?
What if we were able to suspend judgement for each and every experience and just allow them to happen? What if we enjoyed the feelings we got from an experience without labeling them “good or bad” and just be satisfied with the experience for what it was? This may be a tough concept to comprehend or may even sound like “Nirvana” but, it is possible with a highly conscious mindset or a simple paradigm shift. In his book, Power v Force, Dr. David R. Hawkin states: Holding a goal in mind is inspirational and amazingly helpful to its accomplishment, because what is held in mind tends to actualize. However, it is a mistake to attack oneself with guilt for failing to achieve the ideal. Upon examination, it will be frequently discovered that it was not really the goal that was desired, but the satisfaction that was associated with it.
Failure should be a healthy part of our personal growth yet, we often let our self judgement move this into a place of shame. If we were able to apply humility to our perceived failure, reality would show that failure is our best opportunity to learn, to grow and ultimately find pleasure in our endeavors. How many times have we heard the following axiom or quote in our lifetime: “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”. This axiom has a big BUT….but before you try again, please review your previous effort and remove any self-guilt and shame; please refrain from any self-judgement; or comparison to others; please omit all fears of trying again; please reset your self-worth before trying again, etc. The word Failure conjures up very destructive self-behavior. The word Failure seems less scary and more productive when we view it as an opportunity to grow. By shifting this paradigm from “destructive” to “constructive” we are able to see it in a positive light, one that is beneficial to our self-worth. A supporting positive mindset would be: “I did my best and during the process I found a way to do it better next time”.
Likewise, how we view Success can impact our positive self-worth. Is your success based on comparison, a measure of someone else accomplishments? Do you blame others for your perceived failure? Are you attaching your “personal value” or self-worth to the outcome? If so, then you probably have an unhealthy aversion to Failure and are missing out on opportunities for growth. You must understand that you have very little control over the outcome of anything. You can influence them, but you have no control over anything except yourself. Success becomes a condition we use to improve our self-worth. For instance, if your self-worth is aligned to your performance or your effort, then you are less likely to be worried about the outcome. Sure, you want to win or succeed but, you allow winning to become a bi-product of your effort. With this latter perspective of success, you are creating more favorable conditions for experiencing pleasure and satisfaction, which will ultimately lead to a higher self-worth. Shifting your paradigm from “outcome” to “effort” allows you to focus on improving, which is the one thing you have 100% control over. A supporting positive mindset would be: “I did my best and during the process I found a way to do it better next time”. Ha-Ha, see what I did there?
Success and Failure are a lifelong battle for all of us to contend with. We must learn to live with these words. How we perceive and rationalize their duality potentially affects the emotional tension around our self-worth. In order to find satisfaction and pleasure in our efforts, we must reframe our beliefs around Success and Failure. We must dispel the illusions they create and embrace the new paradigm.