To Be Super Successful Do You Have to Have an Inferiority Complex?

To be super successful do you have to have an inferiority complex?

Well, yes and no. But I’m inclined to think from what I’ve been hearing and reading lately it’s more of a yes.

I’m not exactly sure how I’m defining successful here but the more time I spend reading posts on LinkedIn and other business and entrepreneurial type publications the more I keep coming across articles written by those – somewhat semi-famous in their fields — about how they achieved their major career successes.

What I’d been looking for to motivate and inspire I found was often leaving me feeling discouraged and frustrated. This is because the more articles I read the more I kept hearing similar messages about how to be a successful (seemingly defined by wealth, power, and prestige).

Phrases like ‘Never let yourself be satisfied’, or ‘Aim higher’, or ‘Work harder’, or ‘Push yourself beyond what you think you can handle,’ or ‘As soon as you reach a goal, set a new and bigger one,’ or ‘Don’t rest until you get there’ (for someone who loves her sleep this one sounds awful), or ‘Don’t ever let yourself settle’, and so on and so forth. I think you get the idea.

I do believe such authors are genuinely trying to be inspirational, but after a while it starts to seem like the underlying messages are all the same: “The only way to be successful is to never feel good about who you are, what you’re doing, and where you’re at.”

Now I’m not saying having goals, dreams, and ambitions are bad. Not in the least – in fact I think having things we are working toward and accomplishing on a regular basis is a pretty critical part of our personal happiness and satisfaction, but where is the line?

The more I read, the more I hear: “PUSH, PUSH, PUSH! GO! GO! GO!” and the less I hear: “Set a goal, work toward it, reach it, and feel really good about what you’ve done and be really proud of yourself for persevering and doing a good job.”

Or “Take time to appreciate and be grateful for what you have and what you’re doing with your life.” Or “Find a moment to look back to where you were and where you are now, and let yourself just absorb and sit in this feeling accomplishment.”

It seems pretty unhealthy and unbalanced to push so hard without ever allowing oneself to be satisfied or just take a few minutes to sit and absorb and feel good about the goals one has reached.

And what drives such behaviour? From where I stand it seems like many are out spending their time, energy, and effort working themselves to the bone in order to prove they are good enough. That they are worthwhile and significant human beings. And it comes at the expense of all the other really important things in life.

If this is the case, then it must be worth it. But do you think it works? Can we actually prove our worthiness or significance through our big accomplishments?

I have heard many times from clients I work with that they just really want to be successful to prove to someone (usually a parent- oh Freud does it always have to come back to the parents?) that they are good enough.

And to that I ask: “So then what? Once you’ve achieved your ambitious goal that you believe will earn you wealth, awe, and admiration at the cost of all else, what will happen? Do you feel like you will finally be happy and this feeling of internal discontent will be resolved?”

Can one be willing to sacrifice and forsake all else – friends, family, wellness or any other semblance of healthy life balance without being motivated by an internal struggle toward resolving something deeper?

And if this is the case, is it worth it? Especially if “getting there” won’t actuallyget you there?

And if you’re never actually allowed to be satisfied, how can you ever feel content with yourself and your life?

Is it possible to push oneself this hard AND be emotionally and psychologically well-balanced?

Just because its what I’ve been reading about and experiencing in my practice, it doesn’t mean I’m across the board right with this and there aren’t also many exceptions.

But I want to hear from you. I want to hear about what you think are healthy and positive motivators for success. And further to this, how do YOU define success?

5 Things Emotionally Healthy People Do.

5 things emotionally healthy people do

It feels good to feel good. That’s not new ground-breaking information. I know. But many of us look at people who seem to feel good and have it more or less together more or less of the time as being special kinds of people that we could never be.

But the truth is, they’re not that special (sorry guys). They’ve just learned, implemented, and intentionally practiced some really healthy perspectives, attitudes, and behaviours that are actually not all that complicated, and do wonders for building and maintaining positive self-esteem and happiness.

So here are a few things they have learnt and made habits of doing:

1. They Allow Themselves the Freedom to Say “No” and are Able to Extend the Same Courtesy to Others.

Many of us have a hard time saying No, and some even think of it as a four letter word. But when we mistakenly convince ourselves that No isn’t even an we are left feeling stuck or forced in to doing something we really don’t want to do.

And acting out of a sense of obligation and lack of choice usually leads to frustration and resentment toward the person with the request. And that’s just no good.

The same thing goes the other way: we can make a request, but also let it be known that No is a perfectly acceptable answer. It’s important for us to communicate to others that we’re okay if they need to use their No and we understand if they are not always able to meet our requests.

Emotionally Healthy People know that giving themselves, and others the freedom to use their No if they need to goes a long way for building positive and healthy relationships at work, at home, and with their friends.

2. They Don’t Expect Other People to Read Their Minds

We often think that people should just know what we want or need and if they really cared about us we wouldn’t have to ask.

But last time I checked, telepathy is not a skill most of us have been blessed with, so expecting others to know what we need when we need it is likely to be a recipe for disappointment and frustration.

Some people have a hard time being overtly direct in their communication all the time, and that’s okay. If you need to lay a hint or 2 that’s fine.

But if the person on the receiving end doesn’t seem to be catching the hint, instead of feeling hurt, angry, or resentful, them, emotionally healthy people are able to just come right out and ask for what they want or need – and they are able to do this with much more grace and ease if they have mastered #1 on our list.

3. They are not Motivated by Guilt.

I’m not going to lie. This one can be a little bit tougher to work through.

People use guilt to get what they want because it works.

There’s nothing like tapping in to someone’s secret and deep seeded belief that they are not good enough unless they do what we want to spur them in to action.

But emotionally healthy people believe and know they are good, loving, caring, and valuable individuals regardless of whether or not they are able to do whatever anyone asks of them at any given time.

Again, they know it’s okay to say No sometimes without feeling like a failure.

4. They Look For Opportunities to be Grateful.

You’ve heard it before, but I’ll say it again – there are few things that make a bigger impact on our mental health and wellness than finding opportunities to be grateful.

Yes, there is always something to complain or feel ripped off about, and allowing ourselves to wallow in our self-pity from time to time is perfectly okay – we all need to give ourselves the freedom to feel sad, mad, bad, or angry sometimes.

But Emotionally Healthy people also allow themselves to experience the joy of looking at and acknowledging the goodness in and around their lives that they have been blessed with on a regular basis.

5. They Allow Themselves to Say Thank You.

For some reason, many of us get weird when someone notices something positive about us or pays us a compliment.

We shirk it off by saying something like “oh it’s nothing” or “It’s no big deal” or even put ourselves down with “Oh no, it’s not that good – most people could have done better.”

Humility is a lovely quality. Self-Deprecation is not.

Emotionally healthy people are able to see that someone taking the time to give a compliment is a gift from them to us.

And if they don’t receive their gift with grace and gratitude it’s like saying “No, take the gift back – I don’t want this.” And that’s not very nice and doesn’t make anyone feel anything good.

What do you do to take care of your emotional health?

If You’re Feeling Anxious or Worried This Will Help.

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Anxiety is normal – and all of us have felt it to a certain degree at some point – some more than others, but knowing this doesn’t exactly make it all that much more pleasant or enjoyable.

What we know about anxiety is that it often comes from fear.

The fear of something that could or might happen in the future regardless of how likely or realistic it is. But when we’re in the middle of feeling that fear, it seems veryreal and actually quite likely to occur.

And then sometimes we don’t even know what we’re scared of, we just have afeeling of dread and doom (and if you’ve been reading my stuff for a while, you’ll know that our feelings can be known to lie to us from time to time).

Regardless of what is causing said anxiety, I don’t think most of us really like feeling it, especially because it can often times be completely awful, horrible, and debilitating in many ways.

But if we take a second and tune in to the internal chatter that is constantly going on in our heads (whether we are aware of it or not), we will often find a nasty little anxiety provoking sentence going a little something like this “Okay, so what if this awful, dreaded, horrible thing happens?!!?”

What if I get laid off? What if I don’t get in to grad school? What if my partner meets someone more interesting than me? What if my business goes belly up? What if I fail at this task? What if I say something stupid and make a fool of myself? What if no one calls me to make plans this weekend?

Or whatever it may be. It doesn’t have to be a BIG thing, it just has to feel big to you.

But the problem is this: Here is where most of us stop. We stop with our “what if?!!”statement and absolutely freak ourselves out with that which feels totally scary and out of our control.

But why aren’t we finishing our sentences? Wasn’t the unacceptability of an incomplete sentence drilled in to us in about grade 4?

Why do we stop with our what if which inevitably then sets off a whole flood of uncomfortable and anxious feelings?

Luckily there is an answer. And even luckilier (sp?) it’s a pretty easy, and quite effective way to turn down the volume on our pesky anxiety.

And the answer is this: all we need to do is simply complete that small, but very emotionally manipulative sentence.

What if I get laid off? What will I do? What is the worst thing that could happen if I got laid off and how would I cope with that? Could I be out of work for months? Could there be a hiring freeze or oversupply of qualified people in my field making it near impossible to get hired somewhere else? Could I bomb every interview I get?

Or whatever the worst case scenario is for you.

So just complete the sentence.

Really think about it, and then think about how you would deal with it. What would your options be? How would you cope with the change? Who would you turn to for support? What would help soften the blow? What’s plan b? (Something like that).

I’m not saying there are always amazing back up options at your fingertips, but there are always things you can do to help you move forward and keep going.

Come up with a possible “what if” plan or 2 or 3. The more the better. More options = less fear and dread.

And in my personal and all too present case: “What if my 20 month old daughter doesn’t resolve her new regression in her ability to sleep through the night by the time our new baby arrives in 2 months!!??”

What if I’m doomed to be up all night every night with 2 babies taking their turns waking and crying ? How will I cope? Or better yet (as someone who NEEDS a decent night’s sleep in order to function well emotionally and mentally) how will I even survive???

Well after calming myself a little and taking a moment to think through and finishing that darn “what if” sentence I realize all is not hopeless and I do have options – maybe my ideal situation of having 2 sleeping angels won’t be my reality any time soon, but I do have options.

We can move my 20 month old in to our room where I know she sleeps much better and can easily be calmed back to sleep with a few soothing words if she wakes at night. Or my husband can sleep in her room on a mat on the floor and tend to her if she needs it. Or we can move to my parents place for a few months and get some extra help there… and if I think about it longer I’m sure there are many more viable options.

Anxiety doesn’t need to be allowed to keep you feeling trapped, fearful, out of control, or helpless.

When we start to pay attention to and make a point to finish that pesky “What If”sentence, thereby giving ourselves some choices and options, anxiety won’t quite know what to do with itself and will have no other option than to move on to the next person who doesn’t complete their sentences.

No, we can’t always choose or control exactly what life brings us, but we always have choices within our circumstances.

I realize publicly voicing this might make one feel as though one is standing naked in front of a crowd, but are there any “what if” sentences you haven’t been completing lately?

3 Lies Perfectionism Wants You To Believe.

faceWe are somehow becoming a society of people who believe, promote, and encourage the idea that if we want to be seen as successful, worthwhile, and valuable human beings we need to be perfect in every way.

For one reason or another there’s the idea out there (and in here) that in order to feel really good about who we are we need to be outstanding, awe-inspiring, limitless, totally beyond reproach, and flawless. To say the least.

Now that is a LOT of pressure.

Trying our darndest to prove to ourselves and others we are perfect.

What perfectionism seems to be doing is creating the gnawing feeling that we need to be someone or something we’re not in order to feel good about who we are and how our lives seem to be going.

And try as hard as we might to become some fictional and seemingly perfect version of ourselves, we are left only to feel a whole heap of discouragement, anger, guilt, depression, and frustration when we realized we just can’t do it. We can’t be this seemingly perfect version of ourselves – at least not for more than an hour or two… And even THAT’S pretty hard.

Oh, and then we get angry with and punish ourselves for not being able to become the impossible.

Perfectionism is a sneaky bugger though. It’s not always obvious when and how it rears its big old head, but it does have a way of getting right in there and working really hard to convince us of some pretty unfair, pretty mean and pretty nasty, big fat lies about ourselves.

And here are its top 3 major deceivers:

1. Once you are perfect people will like you more.

Because people only like those who are perfect. Right?

Ok, so what would that look like? Someone who’s perfect does everything right, has success after success (obviously without ever having had any type of setback), looks impeccable all the time, never feels anything but roses and sunshine, and handles any and every challenge with total ease and grace.

Perhaps this may sound lovely, but would you really want to be friends with someone like that? How would you relate to them? Where’s the humanness in them? Where’s their vulnerability? Sure you might admire them, but is it possible to feel closely connected to someone like this?

The truth is if we are never vulnerable or real with anyone (aka sharing our struggles), or them with us, it’s actually not possible to have any sort of deep or meaningful mutually beneficial relationship.

We need something within the other person to connect to, and they to us.

And if we’re prancing around being perfect all the time perhaps we will receive praise and admiration from many, but true connection and closeness from none.

I don’t know about you, but I sure like people more when I can relate to them on areal and deep level. When I’m struggling, I don’t really want to hear about how my friend over there never has any challenges or setbacks of their own. THAT does not make me feel closer or connected to them – just more like a failure

2. Once you are perfect you will like yourself immeasurably more and have so much self-confidence you won’t know what to do with it all.

This is a nasty one that perfectionism tries so desperately hard to convince us of, and is actually pretty darn successful much of the time.

As a mental health counsellor, I hear it time and time again: Once I’m stronger, more successful, more powerful, more attractive, wealthier, skinnier, stronger, have a nicer car, bigger house etcetera etcetera etcetera… I will feel so good about myself, and will have an endless supply of happiness and well-being at my disposal.

But here’s the clincher – perfectionism will work its hardest to have you believe once you change or achieve x, y, or z the door to total self-confidence will finally be opened and you will bask in its glory. But the truth is, self-confidence is completely founded, based on, and flourishes in that which is the exact opposite.

The essence of confidence is founded and flourishes in the acceptance of ourselves for exactly who we are. Flaws and all! Yes, it’s true. Flaws and all.

It’s about being able to say: “Nope, not perfect. But that’s okay! I’m good enough just the way I am, and sure there are things I’d like to work on, and I am doing that, but this doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me, it just means I, like everyone else, am a growing, discovering, and learning human being.”

3. Once you’re perfect you will finally be totally happy and completely fulfilled and satisfied with your life.

Again, yes, you guessed it: This too is a lie. AND if we believe that lie, we will actually never, ever be happy, or satisfied, or feel fulfilled. ever.

Life is what’s happening now. And if we’re waiting for ourselves to become perfect before we can allow ourselves to enjoy the good right here in and around us, we are going to blink and miss it all.

We, and I mean ALL of us, have flaws. That’s normal. And in case it’s not clear yet, that’s actually good.

We all struggle and sometimes it’s messy. I mean really messy. But that too is normal. And it’s okay. Life is sometimes hard and we all struggle and go through tough times.

And life is often really good too. And dare I say, a lot better than we might allow ourselves to recognize and appreciate?

So enough is enough. We need to stand up to perfectionism and give it a run for its money by turning to it and saying:

“Not this day! I’m good the way I am. I’m not perfect, I never will be, and that’s okay! I have flaws and I also have many, many wonderful and beautiful qualities about myself, and I will now start allowing myself to appreciate them.”

I bet if we stopped focusing on and being mildly (or majorly) obsessed with the things perfectionism tries to trick us in to believing, and Instead, started focusing on and celebrating the things that are good, great, and right with us, perfectionism wouldn’t quite know what to do with itself.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a perfectionist, has perfectionism ever tried to sneak in and get you to believe something that just wasn’t true?

Why It’s So Important To Care More About Each Other.

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Further to our last discussion in and around freedom of Expression found here and here, I received some really thoughtful feedback on my blog, here on LinkedIn and also in my personal email inbox.

One such reflections that came to my inbox, so was thus not shared publicly, was from my dear Auntie Ruth Blaser.

Ruth is such a deep, thoughtful, and passionate person who dedicates her life to the acceptance. love, advocacy, and inclusion of others in many different realms, and is an inspiration and role model to many.

Here is what she had to say about Freedom Of Expression:

I have been following, thinking, trying to gather my own thoughts and wondering what I might have to say.

Last year I read a book called Healing the Heart of Democracy, by Parker Palmer who is a Quaker and a US citizen. The main theme of this book is that healthy democracy is shaped by citizens who give a rip about each other and the well being of the whole and participate in the democratic process to try make it work, albeit often frustrating as hell.

He writes about how individual hearts are interconnected with the heart of democracy.

When citizens do not cultivate hearts of compassion which are also informed about the complexities of this rapidly changing world, then democracy stumbles.

When democracy is shaped mostly by greed and entrenched opinion rather than reverence for all life … democracy is in trouble.

Democracy also has and needs laws, including laws on hate crimes and human rights. For example, as gay and lesbian people, our lives have been eased by human rights legislation which serve not only to protect us but allows us to take our place.

Some of you will remember the now ancient Kodak poster with a long row of the most adorable babies of all races and kinds and a caption under it that went something like this:

“Welcome to the world babies. Its round and wet, blue and green and beautiful. There’s only only rule I know of babies ….you’ve gotta be kind.”

Preventing the problem before it even has a chance to start. Brilliant. It may sound too simple, but do you think we have to make things more complicated?

I’d love to hear what you think.

Thank you Ruth.

Does Freedom of Expression Mean Anything Goes?

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Are there, or should there be limits to free expression? Does having freedom mean we are exempt from being responsible for ourselves and for how our words – both spoken and written – and created images affect others?

In an interesting article found here the Pope says states that freedom of speech is a fundamental human right and we have a duty to speak up for the sake of the common good.

But what if what we’re saying is not for the common good? What if it’s actually to shame, ridicule, insult, and put down another person or people group? Should we still be extended this same freedom? Maybe we should, but ought there to be limits?

Is it okay for us to do things that are quite simply bad, or mean, or intentionally hurtful and destructive?

I’m pretty torn on this one.

Even if we don’t agree with the choices of another, is it ever okay to be expressly violent with them? And if so, what’s the point?

What does it mean to have freedom? Does it mean we should just do or say whatever we want without regard to the health and well-being of our fellow men and women?

As a Canadian I am grateful to be living in a Free Country, but this freedom does have limitations. I am not free to intentionally and seriously physically harm or kill another person… And thank goodness for that.

Freedom does not extend to physical violence so why does it extend to verbal, written or otherwise expressed violence?

Why are some people saying it’s okay to intentionally and seriously emotionally or mentally harm another human being? Does this make sense at all?

Even if someone is not being good to us, does it mean it’s no holds barred and Carte Blanche for us to be mean, horrible, or awful to them?

Good goodness. To me, that sounds like total anarchy and chaos.

But this is a really tricky issue.

If there are limits to freedom of expression, and I’m inclined to think that if it were possible, it might be good for our personal well being, then who gets to decide what those limits are, and who is in charge of determining when those limits are breached?

This is a really tough issue and an important discussion we need to be having in the wake of conversations around the tragedy of the Charlie Hebdo Paris Terrorist attacks.

But enough from me. Let’s hear more from you.