In order to take another look at the definition of success and how intuitive thinking can improve our lives and our relationships, there is an interesting story based on a personal experience of mine.
A little over a year ago I hired a young man (I’ll call him Jim) to refinish the stairs in my foyer. He was new to Atlanta and was suffering some serious hardships. Jim had given up work in his hometown to move here and help his uncle in the painting business. He was also supporting several friends and members of his family by helping them with tasks and traveling to see them. I talked to this intelligent guy about how he needed to take care of himself, honor his own path, and make a real life for himself. He listened, but stuck to what he was doing.
Later in the year Jim rented some property from me and owed me some money. He said that he was unable to pay his rent because the painting industry was slow and he was traveling to help his family a lot. I refused to honor his excuses. I confronted him about how he wasn’t getting anywhere in his life, and how he needed to get on with his career and find himself.
He accused me of being hard on him and not caring about him. In truth, I cared enough about him to confront him and tell him the truth. Jim couldn’t see this because he didn’t care enough about himself. This sweet, intelligent young man cared more about others than himself; therefore, he couldn’t see how others cared for him.
I refused to take Jim’s accusations personally. I know that I’m a caring person. I cared enough for myself to demand the rent, and enough about him to not let him slide. I let the remarks and the conversation go. In fact, by not taking my advice more important relationship questions were raised in that he was not relating to me as I may have believed he would, and was not seeing himself mirrored in me. He could not see the caring Jim in my reactions to his situation. However, that ultimately proved not to be the case:
A few minutes ago Jim called to thank me. He said that he was reading his journal and found his notes about our conversation over a year ago. This conversation had changed his life. He said that it was tense and hard for him to hear, but it had seriously influenced him. He is now in college with a 3.66 average; he is making a life for himself.
His uncle is not happy with him because he isn’t painting for his uncle’s company. But, Jim knows that he needs to take care of himself. If I had believed Jim’s accusations that I was uncaring, I may have backed down and not told him that his excuses wouldn’t fly with me. He wouldn’t have gotten the message. If I’d taken Jim’s remarks personally, he might still be painting and broke today. Perhaps my definition of success lay in Jim’s own success, achieved by taking my advice.
Not taking remarks, opinions and beliefs personally (in fact, not taking anything from anyone else personally) is key to your success and fulfillment of your life purpose. What people say or think about you is actually a reflection of themselves 90% of the time. A remark might relate to you or be inspired by you, ignited by something within them that responds to you. You might be the catalyst for a great upsurge of opinion and judgment, but their opinion of you is not your fault. It is not your creation. It is theirs.
Imagine that you wake up one morning feeling especially fine. Perhaps you want to dress up a little. You put on something that mirrors how you feel about yourself, and you feel great in the outfit. Then you get to work and a coworker (who had a bad morning and is upset) walks up to you and says, “I hate what you’re wearing. It’s very unprofessional. You’re a poor dresser.”
You have two options: Respond by feeling bad and letting this remark ruin your day, or realize that this person obviously is having a bad day or prefers another type of clothing, and has serious judgments on how others dress. Perhaps the person was criticized as a child or has issues about being the perfect “professional” and is judging you by this image. In either case, this coworker’s opinion is just that. The opinion is a reflection of the ideas and issues of that person. If several people come up to you and say the same thing, you might reconsider wearing something else at that place. Perhaps your outfit, while professional and tasteful to you, is not appropriate for that setting. If you want to work at a bank, you’ll have to follow the code of the bank, but your taste in clothing is still not in question. You are dressing to someone else’s standards – in this case, the staff at the bank.
If you feel uncomfortable dressing like the others, perhaps you are in the wrong place. Find somewhere that suits you better, somewhere you’re comfortable. Don’t take the dress code personally. Maybe you’re the next Madonna and haven’t hit your stride. Some people don’t fit in with the times. They don’t seem to belong in this particular era, but they are still remarkable people. There may be important relationship questions to answer, particularly in how you relate to others that disagree with your lifestyle, or the way you dress, but the answers may not be that you should change to suit others.
There are many people who were outcasts, only to be loved and appreciated after death. Vincent Van Gogh was an incredible artist who died of depression in a mental institution. Nicole Tesla was responsible for many inventions, including alternating current. His discoveries made artificial light possible. He was a brilliant person who was an outcast of society. If Tesla had stopped inventing and tried to fit into society, the entire world would be different. What if the Wright brothers believed the opinions of the masses that they could never fly and were crazy to try?
Our world is built upon the successes of those who believed in what they did, no matter what others thought of them. Their definition of success lay in their achievements despite what others said or thought. In my intuitive coaching lessons, I teach that if you change yourself because of others’ opinions of you, you deprive the world and yourself of the only great gift that you have to offer – you.
The key to success is the awareness of who you are and acting from that place no matter the opinions and beliefs of others. Believe in yourself and take nothing personally. No one knows you – what you need to do and be – more than you. Structure your life upon your own self-image and not on the image others have of you. If your self-image is poor, love yourself more and you’ll be more successful.
If you’re surrounded by people who don’t love and respect you, love and respect yourself more. Move away from those people. Attract to you those who love and respect you. You’ll notice that the more you love yourself, the more people love you. The more you please yourself, the more others are pleased. If someone isn’t happy with you, look inside. Are you happy with yourself? Move away from the people who don’t like you, and do more to make you happy with you.
The world and the people in it are a mirror for your benefit – a mirror that you’re projecting to see more about yourself. If you see hatred, you hate; love more. If you see anger, you’re angry; be more at peace. If you see mistrust, you don’t have faith; trust more. If you see failure, be a successful you first and the world will open up for you. That will be the definition of your success, and the answer to these important relationship questions that are so difficult for most to answer.