It has been my privilege and honor to have spent the last 21 years of my life in the service of others. During that time I have worked with thousands of men and women looking for a new lease on life, a healthier and strong body that will allow them to enjoy life in full measure. One thing we quickly realized that though many of the objectives were the same, the path we sent many on and the time it would take to reach the end goal were very different. One of the challenges I had was that though I had come from a poor lifestyle in many ways, I was still active nevertheless, so the transition to a better lifestyle was not as challenging perhaps as many today may find. So I begin to explore in-depth how my clients defined success and the results we interesting. To begin with, I love language, in that I am intrigued at the words and sentences we use to describe ourselves, our potential, and our present state of being. More often than not, the language we use is often vague, limiting and based on old paradigms. For me this is still a work in progress (I am just like you) where I have to be mindful about the words I use day to day.
So in line with our topic, how do we define success, I think it is important firstly to decide “who” is deciding what success means to us. I know you may think it is “you” deciding what success means to you, but how old were you when you first had that thought? How long have you harbored that idea of success and what are your rules surrounding the attainment of it? Quite often, actually almost always, except for the very enlightened, we all use old paradigms to create the foundation for our views on what success means to us. For example, you may decide that your present weight is unacceptable, and you have had this concern for sometime now as you watched your weight creep up, so when you start to think about ridding yourself of the weight you may be battling the numerous conversations you have had in your head about what your weight means to you. More importantly, the emotions that come into play while you are struggling mentally with the issue of weight were created by a younger version of you, a younger version who was more insecure, less mature and had fewer resources.
So if you are in your 30’s now would you take advice from a 18 adolescent on issues of health, wealth or romance? Chances are you do this often as the memories and the emotions of these memories are alive and well in your mind and come forward every time similar circumstances in our present match those of our past. So knowing this, perhaps we should ask “who” is defining success for us? Is it the 18 year old (memory) or the 25 year old (memory) or the 11 year old (memory)? If so, what skills, knowledge or capacity do you have now that you didn’t have then? Could you imagine talking to the younger version of you and share with them your life experience and let them know of the all the wisdom and resources that you know have? A simple test of this theory is to write down what you are struggling with at the moment, then try and then time stamp it or figure out how far back this struggle goes. Once you have the date and have determined how old you were, imagine stepping into time and talking with the younger version of you.
What advice would you give them, what resources would you make available to them and as you council them can you feel the difference in how you feel? This practice of mindfulness and being aware of how deceptive emotions can be is such a powerful tool and can uproot years of struggle in an instant. Of course if you are really struggling you may need a trained professional to guide you through your mental landscape which I highly recommend, but at the end of the day we need to realize that we are often reacting to shadows and echo’s from our past without appreciating how strong and resilient we have become. So it is important to ask your self “who is defining success for you?
C. David Gilks Your Fellow Traveler
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