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4.1 — What Is It About? Success Or Failure?

As I move into chapter three and past the halfway point in my story it will be helpful to pause and consider where I am in my journey.

Getting To My Peak

The route to my soul is becoming clearer, although the answer is not yet obvious. I am close to finding it, but not there yet. I am coming to my peak in terms of working life and involvement with the world, but I have yet to realise that I need to fall from this, to fully grow inside. My emotions are coming to the explosive point that will enable me to move on in more peace. My spirit is growing ever stronger.

Who am I now? What has shifted for me and what have I learned?

I have found that I am more than my body. It is strong and weak but it does not control me. I need to pay attention to my body more as I grow older, but that is within my capability. It demands that I do not ignore it, but then it leaves me free to pursue my quest.

My mind, as well, is more under my control, not completely, but the movement has started. It no longer fools me. I have learned to see beyond it, expand it and use it to help me discover truths I did not see before.

My emotions still govern me, but I realise they are just about me and are not my connection with the world. I can deal with them, just not yet, there is still too much involved. I can see that the time will come, though.

I now know that I am my spirit and my soul, I just have to fully connect into them and understand them. That is the journey for the remainder of the book and my life.

Awareness, Acceptance and Authenticity

I have long used the trio of awareness, acceptance and authenticity to gauge the progress of life. I have shown above that my awareness has been growing and that I have come towards the end of this phase. At this point acceptance has become the driver of change in me. Acceptance is about bringing myself out of the shadows and being open about myself. Awareness has brought all the issues up and helped me to see what is going on, but that is not enough! Now it is time to absorb what I have discovered and make it mine.

There are three areas of acceptance for me to deal with throughout my life. They are accepting my limitations, accepting my shadow, and accepting that I am amazing. It is important that I absorb all three into my self, equally. It is important that I do not just focus on what is easy and leave the rest until later. It is important that I have a balance between all three areas.

The first area is the easiest one to accept, I think this is probably true for many people. Accept my limitations. I have looked at many of my limitations, such as my club foot. The physical limitations were difficult to ignore, they stuck in my face. I found that the process of drawing them into my life meant I could work beyond them. Once I accepted their reality they ceased to be limitations. They became guideposts for moving forward in my life.

Accepting my shadow is more tricky. Shadows, by their very nature, tend to lurk just out of sight, pretending they do not exist. They jump out and project themselves onto other people I deal with. They put on a guise of being their problems. There is clearly an issue of awareness here, but even with that sorted out the shadow tries to continue pretending not to exist. It takes a superhuman effort on my part to fully absorb my shadow and not project it any more on others.

In trying to express only those aspects of ourselves that we believe will guarantee us the acceptance of others, we suppress some of our most valuable and interesting features and sentence ourselves to a life of reenacting the same outworn scripts. Reclaiming the parts of ourselves that we have relegated to the shadow is the most reliable path to actualizing all of our human potential. Once befriended, our shadow becomes a divine map that—when properly read and followed—reconnects us to the life we were meant to live and the people we were meant to be.

Debbie Ford

My Brilliance

The most difficult area to integrate is the area of my brilliance, and this is where my shadow comes in. I am happy for other people to tell me how brilliant I am—and I believe them, at the time—I am just not sure I totally believe it myself. I have often thought that thinking I am great is dangerous, that it can lead to arrogance—but surely that in itself is just a limitation?

I am getting beyond my story, however. The issue of brilliance is the one that at this point occupies my story. I start to face the dichotomy of success and failure, both in terms of events and in terms of fear. The fear of success is a powerful driver behind the destruction of success. In the next few years this became the primary issue I had to deal with, lurking in my shadow. It took time for me to get to grips with it, bring it to the light, and work out how to break it apart.

The key comes down to whether this issue is about me or what I do. Is it about being or doing? I was starting to feel this confusion strongly because it pointed to the great division in my life. The question filtered down to judging whether what I did was great or whether it was me that was great. This seems self-indulgent, on the face of it. Who cares? You do great things, surely that is all that matters.

In the context of my journey it mattered. I loved the kudos, I thrived on the praise, but, as I explored earlier in the book, was this just a mask to hide what I was, inside. I liked to think that the things I achieved were a direct result of who I was, and now I know that is the case, but how could I prove it to myself. It turned out that it was only in failure that I could see through the fog. It was in failure that I found my true self and saw that all that I did came from, or through, me.

My Confusion

My confusion moved towards destroying everything I had. I was so unconvinced about what I did that I worked in the background to get rid of everything. At the time this was traumatic and deeply disturbing but it, eventually, cut away all the dead wood and left my life clear and unencumbered. To get there, though, I needed to face success and failure, growth and destruction.

To get there I will look, next, at the high points, at the successes. I will remind myself of the power in my life, some of which I have already hinted at and explored. It is important to understand all this to fully see the extent of the downfall, but that is for next week.