Success, depending on how you define it can be elusive. Measure it one way, and you’re a genius! Using another algorithm and you’re not-too-bright. It also depends on how much you compare yourself to others so-called successful peers, to statistics, and to societal norms.
Feeling successful is even more elusive. For me feeling successful has been sporadic. I was erroneously taught as a kid that taking joy or pride in my successes could lead to a “swelled head.” It also led to envious bullying by peers.
I constantly default to what have you achieved lately? instead of making success my solid foundation. I too quickly search for the next challenge rather than savoring the success I already have. Sound familiar?
If you grew up feeling as if you were not enough, you learned a poisonous self-judgment. You found yourself stuck in a corner, punished for not being perfect. Many of my clients can trace their feelings of being unsuccessful to a belief that something was missing from their identity. They were simply not all there.
Akin to feeling not enough is the feeling of being too much. This belief emerges whenever you realize that your gifts, skills, and talents are not recognized or validated by others, especially authority figures at home and at work.
Being too much starts in childhood when kids show interest in non-stereotypical boy/girl pursuits. Seeing their kids choose personal tastes in dress, music, friends, as well as basic sexual identities, trigger fear and loathing from some parents. Suddenly their kid has become too much for them to handle.
Childhood emotional neglect (see Jonice Webb) plays a large part in the not enough, too much, not a success, cycle. Kids need to have their feelings, thoughts, and concerns validated in real time, not when things get so serious that they are dragged to a therapist. When they are not carefully listened to, many kids find it easier to blame themselves for their predicaments. This happened to me when I was severely bullied at home and at school and felt I had nowhere to turn without being blamed and shamed.
This cycle gets carried into the workplace. As a priest I knew that I was broadly educated, well versed in most of the church’s disciplines, reliable, artistic, a great teacher, and a published writer. If given the opportunity, I could have done much more for the church than parish ministry. Yet I did not possess the “politics gene.” My core values kept me from disingenuous ingratiating with authorities who could “do me a favor.” I often wondered if I was just too much for the kind of priest expected by the archdiocese.
At the same time, I felt I were not enough. For 32 years I had hoped to be recognized for my accomplishments. Yet the feelings of not being successful enough ate away at my confidence and eventually led me to leave ministry altogether.
So how do we address this? Six suggestions:
1.Pay attention to emotionally validating each other as individuals at home and at work.
2. Do this by listening without judgment to their feelings, ideas, and thoughts.
3. Ask open ended questions to move the discussion beyond the superficial.
4. Ratify their feelings even when they are counter to everything you may believe.
5. Ask them what they would like to do.
6. Tell them that you appreciate and value them as successful members of the family, staff, or business.
There’s a trite saying from the sixties, Bloom where you are planted. It may sound corny, but it’s still true. In this moment, in this space, you can be a success in who you are, with integrity and intention.
You can be successful in what you do, if you stop judging yourself, listening to the voices of defeat, and put your self-care above everybody else’s.
You can feel successful and that you are enough when you make the intentional effort to validate your success where it does show up. Celebrate it and continue to Bloom where you are planted.
Contact me to discuss your feelings of being enough and set up a complimentary coaching session. PariseCoaching@gmail.com or text me at 813-449-3904.