SUCCESS AND FAILURE
Part of the brilliance of the yin-yang symbol is that it holds not simply even Steven (who was Steven anyway?), 50/50 light-dark, male-female, sun-moon, apparent opposites. It also includes understanding that each apparent opposite contains within it a seed of the other.
I have spent the past decade or so focused on healing myself and understanding myself. I have thought my life and myself a failure in various ways. It’s taken me a while to see the successes. To that end, I sought many teachers, attended many workshops, participated in various groups focused on guiding a person toward reaching their personal ideal. Some of these were with people who achieved what I call “Oprah status,” meaning they started with no name recognition but swam to the front of the millions of guides to appear everywhere (for at least 5 minutes) with the likes of Oprah. I began to notice a pattern in the approach of these “helpers” who at one point began their teachings with nuggets of wisdom so fabulous and often hard won that they just had to share it with others to help us out of the darkness of our own lives into their brilliant light. I do not mean to besmirch or belittle the genuine desire of many of these folks to help others, but here are patterns I observed on my journey:
- Everyone’s life can be reduced to a four-quadrant formula: emotional&physical health, spiritual connection, financial abundance, relationships to self&others.
- Coaches and guides are often skilled in communicating one or more of the four areas to help others reach their potential.
- They often start out by gifting their services until they recognize this is unsustainable in a military-fossil fuel-pharmaceutical culture, and they need to charge money for their wisdom. And they need to serve wealthy clients if they are ever going to become wealthy themselves. And often in that process, one or more areas of their life becomes less than balanced.
- Coaches and guides are under immense pressure to “Be All That.” That is, to have every one of the four quadrants of their life in balance. What I learned with a bit of digging or workshop conversation was that none of them were “All That.” Each and every one had at least one area of their life they were struggling with, even as fame and fortune was theirs. When called on the fact someone is a highly paid relationship guide who gained all their insights through their divorce and teaches about relational bliss while not in a fulfilling relationship themselves, clients are told, “Well, no one is perfect and you don’t need to have everything in order in your life to help someone.” And apparently you don’t in order to charge someone thousands of dollars to attend your workshop. (I avoided this one and only participated in the free intro until I learned what I did).
- As soon as name recognition reaches Oprah status, they may become more concerned with adding another diamond to their top-of-the-line clothing accessories than actually helping another human being out of the dark. I will not mention names, but I’m pretty certain the path to Source is paved with peaty forest soil flanked by living trees, and not diamond eyeglasses.
- People in workshop groups would sometimes scrape together every last penny they had, up to a third of their annual income, because they were told over and over, “You get out what you pay in,” or “You’re actually paying yourself for this work.” Then the workshop or group ended, and they were left with a handful of insights and a negative balance in their bank account.
- Most often guides and teachers I encountered were highly skilled in leading people in one specific area, for example visioning. One of the biggest thrills followed by a severe depression I had was attending a six-week workshop with a supremely skilled visionary guide. By the end of the six weeks, we were all literally drooling over our ideal life, so much so that we were living, breathing and smelling it in our minds. Then the six weeks ended, and boom! Our life circumstances were much like they were six weeks prior, with a few hundred dollars less in our pockets and no handbook on how to get from Present Sad Failure of Our Life to Magical Kingdom of Ideal Joy-Filled Life.
- Occasionally a guide provided a prescriptive detailed map that was nearly impossible for all to follow, like “Write down everything you want five years from now, then go backwards and write down everything you will do each week to get there.” Nothing wrong with a five-year plan, but how many people will actually succeed at mapping out every day of the week for five years?
- My approach to inner peace with all this seeking has felt something like this little clip from Kung Fu Panda 2, which tells me I have made distinct progress since I am now referencing a Disney children’s movie as my source of higher truth.
NOTHING IS WRONG
I am fed up with searching for an end to the problem of dualism and have decided to believe nothing is wrong. What a concept! Can you imagine what would happen to the self-improvement industry sitting at $10 billion with projected 6.1% growth if there was nothing to improve? I have also come to the realization through many hours of meditation that I have as many self-hating thoughts as I do self-loving thoughts. Yin-yang. Nature of the universe.
A Buddhist approach I have gleaned from many teachers is that the more a person focuses on nurturing the seeds of loving thoughts, the more the hating thoughts shrivel and dissipate. I have about 50% success with this practice. I do notice the more I focus on loving kindness, the more I glimpse a peaceful coexistence between the self-hate and self-love.
For wealth, the most helpful advice I received was based on simple math, “If you want to earn more money, figure out how many hours you need to work and/or change your prices.” I raised my prices and lost clients. Therefore, I set out to earn what I wanted to earn each month. This has me working 10 to 12-hour days, six or seven days a week, and I could complain. But hey, one way to look at it is I’m extremely fortunate to be able to set my own schedule and work as much as I want. I took two days off over the holiday and felt I couldn’t work ever again. . . but I’m on it!
THE BROKEN MIRROR
None of us can see ourselves the way others see us. Otherwise we’d be them. But some of us need to readjust our mirrors. That became clear to me when several people wrote references for funding I did not end up receiving for one path I attempted toward changing my life in ways I want it to change.
I intend to hold some of their phrases in front of my consciousness in 2016.
- She is a gifted writer, organizer, and caring parent.
- She is sharp, passionate about our natural world and able to articulate her insights into nature for others to enjoy.
- She is a lifelong learner and has curiosity and passion for the outdoors.
- I have watched with quiet admiration in regard to her ability to not only provide the financial and emotional support for her daughter, but also to find time for healing and growth.
- She works incredibly hard to earn enough to support her daughter and herself.
- I consider her generosity toward programs who have assisted her, whether by labor or fundraising, one of her most admirable traits.
- She has always appeared to be extremely focused, knowledgeable and dedicated.
- She appears to feed off the soothing and healing energy of the outdoors and respects all aspects of life.
- You are quite amazing.