“This is my mind, and I want it to work for me, not against me”, my friend said. “Let other people say to me negative things, I can ignore them. But why should I say those negative things to myself?”
We have our thinking habits, and my habit is to focus on the negative. To see my past as a disadvantage, to look into future and catastrophize, and interpret the present events in a negative light. But all the habits are an object of change, if you want. It takes time and effort, but it is possible to change the thinking patterns just as it is possible to change lifestyle habits like eating and exercising. This is a period of my life that can be named “change”. I have always been interested in self-development and growth, but it seems like right now this process is even more intense than usually. There are many tools and ideas that inspire me to change and I hope to share some of them here on the blog. And today I want to share some thoughts about success.
I used to think of success as one-size-fits-all phenomenon. Like there is this one mountain top that everyone has to reach in order to call himself successful. And then I stumbled upon this idea. Maybe, it is not new to you, but it was new to me: you have to make your own definition of success. Get clear about your values, your goals and desires – this is what will be in YOUR OWN understanding of success. And let this be your compass that will lead you to your mountain top. I thought, I understood this idea. Maybe, I did it with my head – but it didn’t sink deeply, as I see now.
I have come to see that I measure other people’s success by the definitions of my own. And my own success I see through other’s eyes and so it loses its value. But how can I look down on someone who is content with achievements that I don’t value? (and yes, I do it, though I may deny it to myself). Of course, he didn’t achieve a thing, because he is using a different compass. And if in his head he is a champion, even though I don’t see it so, but isn’t it great? Isn’t it great that he has created the reality in which he feels successful? Better so than a person who has achieved a lot, but sees himself as a loser.
The same insight can help me to see myself from a different view (and I start to notice that whatever I think about others, I tend to think about myself. So being kind to others turns out to be the kindness to myself, too). I use to say that I have achieved my goals. But if I dig deeper, I don’t really feel like that. I see myself in the age between 20 and 30, not feminine, hippie style, in baggy pants and colorful sweaters, no boyfriend and no dating experience (I used to be a member of a strict church, where dating before marriage was not acceptable). And I feel myself as a loser. But what a minute! Was style, femininity, dating and relationships on my set of goals? No, they were not. There was a dream to live in different countries, to travel around Europe, to meet its people and to study in the European university. And did I make some of those goals? I made them all. So actually, I am winner.
But why do I look at myself with the eyes of those girls who have always valued feminine style and being in a relationship? Because, yeah, through their eyes I must look like a loser. But why should I now take their perspective? Why should I drag myself down – all by myself? Because I learnt to see my value through other people’s eyes when I was growing up? But now I am adult and I can choose how I want to see myself. And I choose to see it this way: I have used my compass and arrived at my mountain top. And I know now that I achieve my goals and whatever I wish for now, is possible. So I can reframe my past and make it into my success story.
May everyone write his or her success story. May there be more winners who can give thumbs up to each other, instead of dragging others and themselves down.
(Then and Now. 10 years ago I was on a day trip to Stavanger and took this photo, and last October I visited this place again, found the same door and took the same picture :))