A new path to success: discovering the true emotions that will lead you to the success you desire
IN THIS ARTICLE I WILL EXPLAIN WHY WE OFTEN FEEL SO ANXIOUS; HOW TO BECOME MORE EMPOWERED; AND HOW YOU CAN USE THIS NEW EMPOWERMENT TO CREATE THE LIFE YOU WANT (AND DESERVE).
“First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.”
Why are we so anxious?
People sometimes ask me if it is depressing to ‘listen to other people’s problems all the time’. It’s true - people do bring their problems, their worries, their failures and fears to me much of the time. People are anxious and depressed about the ongoing problems they face individually and globally. They often feel threatened and powerless to do anything about it. Our ways to cope with these threats are to talk about it, read about it, watch videos about it, think about it and talk about it some more. So, naturally, they would want to talk about it in therapy too. But when people come for therapy they usually have a desire to change. And if you are reading this article, then you are probably ready for change as well. So then, how can I be depressed when you and others come to me, looking for advice and answers? I am listening with care to your problems so that I can help find the solutions you are looking for. Embedded in your problems lie the very solutions you seek. And this is the most exciting and fulfilling work to me.
Very early in my career as a psychologist, one of my supervisors told me that a therapist is there to hold the torch and shine the light on the dark parts of my clients’ stories. After ten years of trying to do this, I have worked out my own personal way of shining the light on the problems my clients bring. Within the problems and chaos of your life is the gold of your soul – your desires. And I have discovered a way to get to the gold so that you can step out of the darkness of your problems and into the light of your desires.
As I am writing this, I am smiling, because I know we just love talking about our problems. By the same token, we feel silly talking about our dreams. Our minds are complicated and we find it easier to focus on the very things that are threatening us. We think the more we know about the danger, the more we can do something about it. We somehow feel empowered or validated when others agree with our views, or if we read or watch something that confirms our fears. And yes, it is important that we are aware and don’t live in denial. Like I said, we can see our problems as clues about what we desire. From knowing what you don’t want, you can figure out what you do want. But: if you want to move out of your problems, and out of the anxiety, you have to move beyond what you don’t want to what you really do want.
If you are not sure how to do this – that is – if you are unsure of what your desires are - then your first desire may well be to get clarity about what it is you want. And there is absolutely no need to feel bad if you need help with this part. Quite frankly, as a society, we don’t typically encourage one another to talk openly about our dreams and goals. As I have said before, it is far more fashionable to talk about our problems than our desires. Most of us had parents who had no idea how empowering it can be to allow their children to talk about their dreams. Our parents were, more often than not, focused on their problems and most likely didn’t have the time, energy or inclination to listen to our deepest desires. Parents can also sometimes feel like failures when their children have dreams that they as parents can’t help fulfil. So they resist and dismiss their children’s dreams. And so as children we learned to join our parents in their worries about such things as money, the economy, safety, politics, performance, productivity, employment and the future.
From anxiety to empowerment
Fortunately, however, things are starting to change. The current state of the world is creating a global desire for things to be different. There is a collective desire emerging for new leaders, new ideas, new ways of doing things, new ways of living. People are finding solutions to global problems every day and what I am strongly suggesting is that we decide and commit to solving our own problems first and foremost.
Some of you are indeed committed to finding solutions to your personal lives. But there may be an emotional quality to this commitment that is making you feel overwhelmed or anxious (or both!). The peace that you are looking for still feels far away. You are most likely feeling anxious because you are trying to improve your life in a frantic way; or in a forceful and controlling way. You try this and then that. You make rules for yourself and others: ‘I have to do this and they have to do that.’ And I get it - there are so many things you want to improve in the hope to feel more secure – make more, have more, do more etc. But the harder you try the more anxious, paralyzed and stuck you end up feeling.
I will go on to explain anxiety as a state of confusion about what we feel and think. Your mind is a jumble about what you don’t want and maybe some thoughts about what you think will get you out of what you don’t want. But when these thoughts are not clear and focused we can feel hopeless, desperate, depressed and stuck. You are in the chaos and darkness that I spoke about earlier. And you want to get out and be free, but you don’t know exactly how. In this anxious state, we are mostly in a state of survival. The mind is closed up and our ability to think freely and creatively is severely limited. I feel great compassion when I hear how hard my clients work to improve their finances, their relationships, their health, their homes, their family life, their careers and even their holidays. And while there are some successes, I don’t see the anxiety easing away.
If you are willing to allow yourself to feel good and be successful then you will allow yourself to have the life you want.
I would like to give a new picture of empowerment and success. One where empowerment doesn’t have to be hard and aggressive. There is so much of that already in the world. What if you could have wellbeing and success? What if you could feel at peace, at ease, beautiful, smart, stylish, confident, energized, focused and empowered while you are achieving what you want for your relationships, finances, home, career, business, body and holidays? This is what I call modern success. Cool success! Maybe you can imagine - right now - someone who is successful and whom you actually like. My guess is that this person is successful and cool. This person is healthy, positive, relaxed as well as confident, driven and successful. If you are willing to allow yourself to feel good and be successful then you will allow yourself to have the life you want. Doesn’t it feel good to know that you can have the life you want? Don’t you just want to focus on feeling good and living well? Wouldn’t you rather create this life than talk about what is wrong with the world?
The process of creating the life you want
In order to create the life you want, you need to know what you want. I suggest you write down a working definition of what you want. I’m not talking about a list of things to do. I’m also not talking about arrogantly and aggressively fighting for what you want. I’m talking about using your whole self; your soul, your feelings, even your vulnerabilities, your imagination, your thoughts, your mind and your body. Just having a list or fighting for what you want, will keep you feeling the lack of the things you want, instead of the actual things. You will feel loss; not empowerment. You may even achieve your goals and get what you want, but it may be a long and strenuous process. As the saying goes: ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’.
What I suggest is that you move beyond necessity into a place where you feel the way you would feel if you already had what you want. By feeling good even before you have what you want, you activate the belief that you can do it. Now you can create rather than invent. Try and feel the difference between creating and inventing – which one feels lighter and easier?
What if I don’t feel it?
If you struggle to feel, think about or see the things you desire, then you are most likely being blocked by limiting beliefs. In other words, you are having thoughts that are in opposition of what you desire. These thoughts are called resistances. This is very normal. It is the condition of the human mind and I would say that most of the work I do with clients in therapy is working through these resistances. These self-limiting beliefs are unconscious and it takes practice to become aware of them. But it is possible to get to know your mind and to become conscious of these unconscious thoughts and feelings. This ability is called a reflective ability. Writing, being mindful and meditating are very effective ways to help you recognise self-limiting thoughts.
I know what you are thinking now! It is not enough to just know your thoughts, right? You want to know what you must do with them. And you are right! Awareness is good, but using your mind to change the way you think and feel, is much better! This is what it means to be creative. By changing the way you think and feel you activate your creative ability. Just as you can learn to reflect and cultivate awareness, you can also learn how to influence the way you think and feel. Practicing visualization and positive affirmations can be very effective if used correctly.
SO, IN SUMMARY, I am saying that we as humans tend to focus way too much on our problems; on what we don’t want. We keep ourselves stuck in fear - keeping us largely ineffective in achieving the life we desire. I am recommending that you become aware when you are doing this and that you develop ways to shift your focus from what you don’t want to what you do want. I am also suggesting that you change your thoughts and feelings – you need to feel good in order to create the life you want. You are creating your desired reality with your own positive thoughts and intentional feelings.
Once you get better at it, it will be easier to focus and get clarity about the details of what you want. You will feel inspired and ready to take action. And most important of all, you will feel good while you are creating the life you want. Feeling good and strong will help you overcome any challenges that may come your way. It will also draw the right people and resources that will aid you in achieving your goals. Let’s face it - no one wants to work with or help a negative, whiney, or aggressive person. Would you?