Being Successful

Two Flowers (a short story)

The morning sun broke gently over the pond. The frogs and dragonflies awoke and crawled out of the shadows to warm themselves and dry off the evening dew. They greeted the sun with a cacophony of sound that announced the beginning of another day of pond life. The morning mist disappeared into the warming air in thin wisps of filament.

Touched by the sun, the blue lotus opened its petals and basked in its warm embrace. She greeted the frogs, dragonflies and all the other creatures of the pond with her brilliant beauty. She basked in the nourishment of God’s love. The energy and nutrients flowed in from her leaves and up from her roots and mingled in a celebration of life.

The red lotus wasn’t as enthusiastic about the day as her blue cousin. She’d been hurt and so she held back and did not feel the joy that greeted the day. She shut herself away from further pain, and in so doing closed herself to life.

She drifted into the shadows and remained distanced from the activities of the morning. Her petals remained partly closed and she did not feel the sun or know its loving touch. She would not be nourished by its warmth. Her leaves were wilting from living in the shadows of fear.

She was becoming unhealthy. While the bees visited the blue lotus and merged with its pollen, they avoided the red lotus fearing that she might be ill. Because she did not dwell in the sun, the pond creatures did not favor her, choosing instead to bask elsewhere to celebrate the morning’s warmth. Feeling isolated and alone, the red lotus shrunk back even further into the shadows, deepening her isolation.

In my work I meet a lot of red lotuses. They tell me: “If only my life had been . . . ” “If only I had . . . ” “Things would be different if . . . .” Lives filled with regrets, missteps, pain, failures, mistakes and missed opportunities. Their assumptions are that they have done it wrong or that the world is unfair and that no matter what they do, things will still not come out right.

They look at other people’s lives and measure their “failures” by other’s “successes”. They say, “She did it, why can’t I?” Or, the even more self-condemning, but rarely said out loud, “Of course I can’t. I’m not good enough (smart enough, beautiful enough, assertive enough, etc., etc.).” Their measures of worth are external. They have been forced to worry about life instead of being able to be thankful for it.

When you measure yourself by things external there will always be someone who is richer, smarter, faster, better looking, more secure or more successful than you are. You can use those differences to either learn from or to make you feel inept, but the later is a direct route into the toilet. There will always be plenty of things you can use to pull yourself down.

It speaks to our non-acceptance of self. And, by the way, the economic system is counting on you to react to those differences so that they can sell you everything from new cars, to new fashions, to new makeup or something else new to cover over your feelings of inadequacy.

I love to talk with successful people. I have learned that most successful people are bright, but that this is not necessarily true. Some are good looking, some are not, but most of them do take good care of themselves. They like what they do and they work hard at it. Their success is a natural extension of their commitment. They didn’t set out to gain fame or notoriety, because they know that people who do that crash and burn.

Most successful people have good social skills, but that’s not universal. Some people in the arts for example, have only their art to express themselves. Successful people are typically kind and compassionate, but not always. The point is that you cannot pigeonhole or categorize what makes a person successful, with I think, one notable exception.

When I talk with successful people, I don’t talk to them about their successes. I want to know about their failures. I don’t do that to embarrass them, but I have learned that truly successful people have accepted their failures as a necessary part of their learning process.

They have come to realize that that their old ways of thinking were going to keep them down until they gave them up. They didn’t like giving up their old behaviors any more than you do, but they coped with it and grew from their experiences. Then they left them behind. And they are generally willing to talk about what they have gained through the process because it no longer embarrasses them.

Not successful people carry their failures around as stigmas of their unworthiness. It gives them proof that they are not OK. And allow me to digress for a moment: Anytime something is not contributing to your ultimate growth and development (and remember that we grow a lot from our failures), its only purpose is to keep you down. And it is important for everyone to ask, “Why would I want to do that to myself?”

Failure however, is only a surface manifestation of what separates successful from not successful people. There is something more fundamental. There are reasons that your life isn’t what you want it to be, and yes, you’ve made mistakes, and yes, you sell yourself short, and yes, you could be doing it better, but those are only side issues to a larger agenda. There is a lot more going on than just your belief that something’s wrong with you or that the world is screwed up.

What separates successful from not successful people interestingly enough, is their willingness to accept love. And on that same note, if you want to separate the happy from the unhappy, the healthy from the sick, the joyous from the sad or the peaceful from the troubled, one single quality makes the difference, and that is, each person’s willingness to accept love.

And the most important source of love for any of us is from ourselves. The happiest people I know are those who enjoy their own company. That allows them then to really enjoy the company of others.

I think that just about anyone can give love. Put a puppy in most people’s arms and they light up. But when it comes to receiving love, that’s a different matter altogether. We often receive compliments, messages of support or encouragement and outright expressions of love as though we never even heard them. We can’t, the dissonance between those expressions of love and how we see ourselves is too great.

The people who are successful at life, who accept being loved, see life as a journey. They know that there will be bumps to be sure, but they see those bumps as obstacles to be learned from and overcome. The people who are reluctant to accept love, who are generally less successful at life, see their trials and tribulations as reflections of their unworthiness. Everything that happens to them is filtered through the lens of their unworthy self image.

This difference in attitude can best be illustrated by way of example. Let’s say that you want to be free of economic difficulties. You’re not asking for wealth, just for things to be easier. So, you pray. You ask for God’s help.

First, it’s important that you understand that there are reasons that your life is not more abundant. Those reasons have to do with the ways in which you do not love yourself. You came to earth to work on and resolve those issues. If God were to simply give you abundance (or anything else for that matter), it would defeat the entire purpose of your being here. So, what happens? You pray, and in response, you get a lesson, or what I am going to call a “learning opportunity.”

Remember that the Universe is a place of infinite abundance. God has more love or gold or anything else you might desire in amounts well beyond your wildest imagination. And, he freely offers it to us like fresh air and sunshine. So you see, the issue is not the availability of what you want; the issue is will you let it in?

What God can do in response to your request for help is to show you the ways in which you push love or abundance or whatever else it is, away. When this happens, we call it having a problem. I call it a learning opportunity, God calls it life. And the contrast between those points of view holds the secret to life in a nutshell.

The way in which we choose to receive our problems/opportunities is what separates us from other people. To the unworthy, life feels unfair. It feels as though God doesn’t love us, that He has abandoned us. But the larger truth is, God’s doing the best thing He can possibly do to help us. It’s the sort of thing that God has been trying to show us all along, anyway.

Most people face a high hurdle when it comes to looking at the ways they sabotage their lives or prevent themselves from receiving abundance. They feel as though they really want to change, but they can’t seem to find a way to get there. Their feelings are sincere, but it’s also a bit of a game. They do want to heal, but it’s conditional.

They aren’t willing to give up the old, familiar beliefs that got them this far. They’re not yet ready to take off their old clothes and take the risk of seeing what’s in the mirror. And the truly ironic thing is that what is in the mirror is absolutely breathtaking!

Case in point: I just said that who you were, was absolutely breathtaking. What did you do with that?

There is an old Chinese story about a great healer who lived on top of a mountain. He had a great gift, but the climb to get to him was difficult, especially for people with afflictions. Someone asked him once why he did not move down lower so that the people who needed his healing could reach him more easily.

His answer was most interesting. He said, “Those who really want to heal will get here.” That may seem like a callous response, but there is a lot of truth in his answer. Healing isn’t about acquiring something; it is about giving something up. And, until you are ready, really ready, to give up your fears and limiting beliefs, they will interfere with your ability to be whole.

Doing the work itself really isn’t all that hard. The concepts are ridiculously simple. But you gotta want it! So long as your well-oiled defenses are operating smoothly and you are getting by, there will be little real motivation for you to change.

The people who have a difficult time healing know how to struggle, avoid and resist. They’ve had a lot of practice at it. It is easier to get upset and blame things on something or someone else, or on life or our own unworthiness. And here’s an interesting twist: blaming yourself is just another way a way to avoid the issue. If you are defective or unworthy or messed up, then you have license to excuse yourself for not stepping up to the plate. In this sense, being successful at coping with life really works against you.

You have to want to heal badly enough that you’ll climb up that mountain and give up your ideas of limitation; otherwise it simply cannot work – today. But rest assured, The Universe has ways of changing things so that you will face situations outside the limits of your present ability to cope. If you do not choose to go up that mountain, you will be seriously nudged.

And I want to repeat; this is not being done because you are unworthy, or because there is something wrong with you. It is done because The Universe is dedicated to helping you and notice that I said helping you to find out the truth about who and what you are.

Take a moment and look at your life. What are the reasons you use to “explain” why things aren’t perfect? If you can listen to that “still small voice” within, it will tell you that the things you believe (especially about yourself) are not true. But as the cliché` goes, “What you dwell on, you dwell in.”

I like Byron Katie’s line that, “When I believed my thoughts, I suffered. When I questioned them, I didn’t.” Accepting the premise that you really are OK means that you would have to stand naked and exposed to God’s sunlight for all to see, and right now that is probably a pretty tall order.

The degree to which some people will go to avoid addressing their inner pain is mind-boggling. I have watched people endure painful diseases, or the complete destruction of their lives through drugs and alcohol. They will suffer through these hardships and all the negative impacts associated with them, rather than go inside and face the things they believe about themselves.

Many others will endure unsatisfying relationships or jobs for years rather than address their inner fears. They settle rather than choose. These people would be happy to have God fix things so that they didn’t have to, but unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, God isn’t about to do that. Earthly existence was created so that you would learn the truth about who you are. This is done through the lessons you are bumping up against, and God isn’t about to toss the process out.

The thing is, your fears and anxieties are based in a massive misunderstanding. You are a beautiful, magnificent, truly awesome creation of the Universe, but you do not know and accept that (yet). And it is this misunderstanding that is at the root of your non-acceptance of self. It is what lies at the heart of everything that troubles you.

You came here to dispel that misunderstanding and the beliefs it has generated. That is why God cannot take away your pain. Your pain and your dissatisfaction are essential parts of the process. When they get large enough, they will propel you to change.

The difficulties you are experiencing – if you will look at them – are all focusing attention on the places where you do not hold the truth. The truth cannot change, so it is your perception of the truth that must shift. You can analyze it and try to understand it, but when all is said and done, what you are going to have to do is to learn to live from your heart.

No matter how you slice it, it’s about compassion. Certainly it is about compassion for others, but mostly it is about compassion for yourself. Today you do not love yourself, and every problem/opportunity you encounter offers you the gift to move in that direction.

OK, so now that you know the truth, finding compassion should be a fairly straightforward thing to do. Yes? All you need to do is to decide to love yourself, walk out the door and do it. Yes? So what’s the big deal? Why is it so difficult? You want to love yourself. Everyone wants to love themselves. Don’t they? Or, do we just say that? Then why don’t we? What is going on?

Whatever you are concerned about must be very significant to cause you this much pain and trouble. And, it is certain to involve “them.” “They” will reject you. “They” will find you unworthy. “They” will judge you to be inadequate. Most of us spend our lives being concerned about what others think of us, or alternatively, rebelling from that. I want to let you in on a secret: you’re not really that concerned about “them.” That’s a subterfuge. There is something much more significant going on.

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2014

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