Don’t we live in a world where success is just everything? All the motivational gurus, all the self-help books, all the talk shows and etc., etc. — all are espousing success and how to get there.
And God knows, I’m not advocating for failure. Although it can sure teach us a lot.
But so often what I hear from folks (and have asked myself at various junctures before) is, why am I not successful?
Have you ever asked yourself that question?
And we can go on and on about the reasons — fear of success/fear of failure. Feelings of unworthiness. Or a plethora of others.
And while yes, it’s a good thing to sort that all out, including the mundane points such as not having enough knowledge, being a novice, etc., something underlies all of these issues.
The thing that trips up most folks, most of the time, is that negative loop of self-criticism.
You know, remember the time you failed at whatever in second grade? Or that marriage that didn’t quite work out? Or when you grasped for the brass ring and came up holding air?
Yep, it happened. Whatever “it” was. And yep, you learned from it, no? Gained beneficial information, another piece of your puzzle, etc.
But how often do you remember the latter, and how often do you instead focus on the former failure?
This can be much more insidious than it seems. Because of course you’re not focused on the negative, are you? You know better than that, right? You concentrate on your strengths and let those grow, attending to the weaknesses too but keeping your successes front and center? Right?
It’s a funny conundrum — the mind can be a slimy thing. We think we’re doing all the good with our spiritual/psychological walks, but do this exercise:
On a piece of paper draw a line down the page. Put Positive Thoughts on one side, Negative Thoughts on the other. For one day, for every single thought you have, put a mark below one or the other.
No cheating — you can’t discount some thoughts as neutral. Because if you dig down deeper, the impetus is positive or negative. Even about having to stop at the grocery store for cat food on your way home.
The results are pretty much always startling.
The thing is, no matter how many mantras you recite, no matter how much meditation or spiritual/psychological reading you do, if those aren’t backed up by focused attention to what you want to have happen, by knowledge of your worthiness to attain those things, then you’re pissing in the wind.
Far more folks focus on what they don’t want to have happen.
I mean, that’s natural, no? Often we see or think things we don’t want. Either in the reality of here and now, or in the imagined future.
The trick is, and it’s simple, really, to focus on what you do want instead.
Although nobody said simple was easy!
I wish I knew the tipping point, the formula, for where success lies — the percentage of the time you need to concentrate on the wanted vs. the unwanted.
But I don’t think that number actually exists!
What I do know is that every single spiritual practice points to focusing on the desire, rather than the lack, as the key.
“. . . if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.” — the King James version of the Bible.
“Creators that create worlds are not trying to fix problems. Creators that create worlds are defining what is not wanted for a split second, and feeling what IS wanted for eternity.” –Abraham Hicks.
We could go on.
Because one thing we know is that focusing on what you do want, while letting go of what you don’t, brings forth ideas.
And that causes self-doubt to wane.
I’ve often been amazed by studying folks with deep religious convictions. Even if I think their beliefs are pretty goofy, they use that as a foundation for success. Because it’s not the nature of the belief that matters. Rather, it’s the depth of that belief.
And, even if they believe in a purple polka-dotted elephant in the sky, if they truly believe that’s God, their faith helps them climb mountains.
As Jesus said, “Your faith has made you whole.”
Or as Dr. Wayne Dyer used to say: “You’ll see it when you believe it.”
All the focus, of course, being on the wanted rather than the unwanted.
The key is to simply keep focused on the desire.
Because successful people believe in themselves. Do they have self-doubts? Yep. But they play on their strengths more. Do they think they’re supposed to be successful? Yep. Do they know they have gaps in their knowledge or prowess? Yep. But they know they can circle back and pick up what they need.
And this, I know for true:
“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” – Sylvia Plath
So how do you focus on what you want, rather than what you don’t?
Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.