~Be your own mirror~

mirror1My great uncle once told my mother that he believed there are two types of people in the world: “givers” and “takers”. Although I would never be so quick to stack individuals into two boxed-in categories, I think the point he was trying to make was a valid one. As a diva of success, it would probably be easy for me to become so focused on my own endeavors that I didn’t give much thought to others except in terms of how they could in some way benefit me.

A couple of weeks ago, someone who has been my friend for several months suggested that self-promotion was at the heart of my Success Diva activities although he has never actually taken the time to read the articles at my blog.  Obviously, to be successful in any area of your life, you do have to take personal initiative. You must make the most of opportunities and, to loosely paraphrase a quote by author Francis Bacon, you sometimes have to create more opportunities than you find.

But, does this mean that suddenly you are the only important person in your world and everyone else is a background player?? Are you the only star in your sky? If so, isn’t it getting a little lonely up there in the heavens?? I have known plenty of people over the course of my life who seemed to concentrate exclusively on themselves and their own needs and desires. There are even those who would say that such behavior is “natural” and “normal”. Yet, is it? Or is that just an attempt on a person’s part to validate the fact that they are always putting themselves first?

Our society nourishes and promotes a philosophy that is immensely ego-driven. We are brainwashed into believing that if we accomplish enough and acquire enough, we will find happiness and fulfillment. When we turn on the television set, we see add after add telling us what perfume we should wear, what shaving cream we should use, where we should shop for clothes, and what sort of lifestyle we should crave. We can think that we aren’t being influenced by the messages that we’re hearing on television or reading in magazines and books, but, after awhile, the thoughts behind the words begin to seep into our consciouness. We imagine that we will always remain consistently devoted to our own personal goals and dreams, but aren’t we kidding ourselves? How can we not be affected by all that we see, hear, and experience?

If, for instance, our society was more inclined to encourage everyone to think first of others and then of themselves, how would things be different than they are now? Many people think that  “looking out for number one” is the strategy that drives achievement.  But what sort of achievement does it bring? We all reside on this earth together, don’t we? The only way that focusing exclusively on ourselves and our needs would be an ideal situation is if each of us were residing on our own planet. We are dependent upon other people, whether we want to be or not.

Zig Ziglar, one of my favorite motivational speakers is noted for saying, “You can have everything in life you want, if you just help enough people get what they want.” What I think Zig’s trying to point out is that you we must embrace the spirit of harmony that pervades our universe, rather than trying to fight it. Instead of looking at each relationship as being something that could benefit us, we should be thinking of ways in which each connection we make can be mutually beneficial. When it comes to the people you love, don’t you usually think of their wishes, in addition to your own? Of course, you do. So, you know what it’s like to experience that feeling of connection with another person. Why not enjoy it in all of your relationships?

It’s only our ego that makes us think that giving too much attention or affection to others will in some way cause us to be depleted. When we allow ourselves to lapse into what I call a “scarcity mentality”, we truly fear that if we let someone else take center stage in our world instead of us, we’ll somehow end up as the understudy in our own life.  And yet, the examples that have been shown in books and films of those whose lives have been lived solely to benefit themselves demonstrate that happiness is not generally found in mere self-gratification.

The film “Sunset Boulevard” comes to mind when I think of a story in which the leading figure was completely at the command of her own ego. Norma Desmond had become so fixated on her status as a “star”, that she lives in an imaginary gothic fairy tale of her own making.  Her world was a spider’s web spun from threads of lies, delusions, and memories.  She existed in the past because facing the future would have meant that she would have had to fly out of her gilded cage and face the woman she really was when she looked in the mirror. A looking glass doesn’t lie to us, but we can lie to it if we choose to see a reflection other than our own when we peer into it.

If, for instance, we see ourselves as a generous, caring, and benevolent person, but we are actually selfish, jealous, and resentful, we will never be looking at our reflection in a mirror no matter how many times we gaze into it. When you take a few moments to think about it, it’s amazing how much time many of us have taken to try to erase a small blemish on our complexions. And, yet, how much time have we spent trying to rectify the blemishes in our soul? How often have we contemplated whether or not we were exhibiting compassion and caring to the people in our lives? How frequently have we stopped and engaged in a full self-assessment of ourselves and our inner natures? It’s so much easier to ignore what we don’t like about ourselves. “Nobody knows I’m really this way,” we whisper to our souls, and maybe some part of us really buys into that theory.

However, would  you think a diamond that looked magnificent on the surface was nearly as lovely if you held it under a microscope and saw it was full of black carbon spots? It would lose a lot of its allure, would it not? Well, if our outsides don’t match up with our insides, we’re no different than that deeply flawed diamond. So, no matter how radiant we think we are when we’re under the spotlight, sooner or later people are going to notice those telltale blemishes. It’s never comfortable to acknowledge that we’re not the person we want to be and/or that we’re pretending to be, but, in order to find true contentment within our souls and spirits, it’s much better to admit even that which is unpleasant as opposed to allowing an illusion to become our reality.

After all, no matter how many people come into our lives or how many significant others or children or relatives or friends we have over the course of our lifetime, the person we will end up spending the most time with is still ourselves. Would you choose to spend the largest amount of your time with someone who was pretending to be someone besides themselves? If you had a friend who told you that they were hiding their true nature from you and everyone else, would you continue wanting to spend lots of time around them? Well, if you haven’t been honest with yourself and others about the person you are, is it really any different?

Actually, it is different because whether or not you lie to yourself is something you have control over. On the other hand, you have no power over whether or not others are manipulating or lying to you about who they are. If someone whom you love and trust is presenting you with a fake mirror image of their true nature, there isn’t anything you can do to change that. It’s because people do deceive others and convey a false impression of themselves that many of us are quick to imagine there is a hidden agenda behind someone’s friendliness or kindness. “What do they want from me?”, we sometimes asks ourselves. And, who can blame us for wondering that? Since our culture teaches people that self-gratifaction is of the utmost importance, why would we not look for hidden motives?

What we need to make sure of is that we are not guilty of having hidden motives ourselves. It’s easy to engage in behavior that appears to be benefiting others, but if all we’re thinking about is how what we’re doing will benefit us, there will come a time when someone will start to question our authenticity. At the very least, we’ll know that our seemingly altruistic gestures are being guided by personal motives. If, for example, the only reason we take someone out to lunch is because we think that they’ll invest in a project we’re trying to get up and running, we may accomplish what we’re setting out to do, but we’ll be left with a feeling of dissatisfication because we’ll know that we had a private agenda that was intended to only benefit us.

Anthony Robbins, another of my favorite motivational speakers and authors, has ensured that his children learn the value of giving to other people. I have always remembered the story of how one of his children was given a huge bunch of balloons on a special occasion. Rather than encouraging his son to bask in the feeling of overwhelming gratification that being the recipient of so many balloons could have given him, Tony suggested that he go to a nursing home and give some the balloons away to the people staying there. At first, Tony’s young son wasn’t overly enthusiastic at the prospect of letting go of his highly prized balloons. However, after he did give them away and saw the looks of appreciation and affection on the faces of the elderly residents, his sensation of happiness far exceeded what it had been when the balloons belonged to him.  

I think what is true of the balloons is true of love, generosity, kindness, and compassion. We can allow all these emotions to reside within us. . .we can hold onto them frantically, fearing that sharing them will be too great a risk. . .or we can let go of our fears and allow ourselves to embrace the spirit of harmony that is inherent in the universe. I am tremendously fond of saying that Love is Queen of all. I imagine Love as a magnificent queen, dressed in opulent robes and sitting on a jewel-encrusted throne. I think of her ruling over an kingdom in which goblins and ghouls of hate, anger, malice, and envy roam with wild abandon on nights when she sleeps soundly. I envision her engaging in battle with these nefarious beings and conquering them not with the blade of a sword, but rather with magical words of persuasion and gestures of grace. For Love is a Queen whose power comes from stillness and calm rather than bluster, brashness, and brutality. Like those rulers who have been sagacious enough to realize that psychological combat can be more effective than sword play or fist fights, Love plays her game with chess pieces that are pure, genuine, and will not harm anyone. For she knows that truth and kindness will ultimately win, since the universe would not maintain its spirit of harmony otherwise. 

Our world may be full of those who hate and hurt those around them, but the path to happiness and fulfillment is only walked upon by those who are devoted to nourishing themselves and those around them with love, honesty, affection, generosity, and empathy. If you’re thriving on anger, envy, greed, and hatred, you may make enough money to purchase a fancy sports car to drive around in, but sooner or later you’re going to either run off the road or end up on a dead-end street. 

So, unless what you’re pursuing is short-term satisfaction or success that gives you plenty of material possessions but no feeling of inner contentment, look at yourself in the mirror and make sure that the person you think you are matches up with the reflection. And if you prefer the reflection, start making the changes today that will transform that image into your reality.

As always, make every moment matter. . .and life with passion, courage, faith, and enthusiasm!

Until soon,

Your Success Diva

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If you are interested in seeking my advice on a specific situation, please write me at successdiva7@yahoo.com I will respond to all messages that I receive at this account at my earliest convenience.

when you have to walk away. . .

We all have those moments in life, don’t we? That second in time when a part of us realizes that there is someone in our life who is pulling us down rather than building us up. If you look around, you can probably find someone who is in your life right now who shouldn’t really be there.  It isn’t so much that they are cutting you to pieces. Their behavior doesn’t have to be destructive in an obvious way. But perhaps they do thoughtless things or speak to you in a harsh and hurtful way at the times when you most need to feel valued, appreciated and even loved.  Yet time after time you overlook their behavior. . .you give them another chance, even though you realize that they are going to keep hurting you, whether the pain they are causing you is intentional or not. What do you do?? Well, obviously, if the person in question is a spouse, a long-term partner, a parent, child, or close family member. . well, as hard as it is to say this, you won’t be able to just walk away. You already know that, of course, since you’re smart and already have so many of the answers and solutions all within yourself anyway. Actually, when it seems like your Success Diva is providing you with answers, what she’s really doing is helping you tap into the answers that you already possess within. Sometimes the problem is that you just don’t know which questions you should be asking. And that is where I come into the picture. Sure, if I can provide a few answers, too, that’s wonderful. But I would rather think that you had the answers all along just waiting to be discovered. Imagine that you have a mound of gold buried in your backyard that you haven’t ever known about. Then imagine if somebody told you about that mound of gold. Would you believe them? Well, if you’re a skeptic, I would imagine you’d shrug, roll  your eyes, and say, “Yeah, right. Dream on. There isn’t a mound of gold in my backyard.” But whether you choose to believe it or not, there is. But the mound of gold is within you because that’s where the answers to how you can create the life of your dreams are: within you. Your life may seem like a jigsaw puzzle right now, but when you start putting the pieces together, you’re going to see what you’ve got. . .and you know what? You’ll be amazed. You’ll also be very pleased that you let the Success Diva into your life. You’ll see that all these things she’s been telling you haven’t just been a lot of bunk. And one reason what I’m saying to you isn’t a lot of ‘bunk’ is because it’s all deeply personal. I”m not telling you to do anything that I wouldn’t do, haven’t done and am not continuing to do myself. I practice what I preach, so to speak. If I’m having a bad day, the advice I give myself is the very same advice you are going to get from me. And that I promise (and remember, The Success Diva doesn’t break promises).

But let’s revisit the subject of this post, “When you have to walk away.” Do you know what one of the hardest things you will ever do in your life will be? Have you guessed it yet? It will be walking away from someone or something that you have become dependent on in some way. It will be realizing that just because something seems good or even looks good doesn’t make it right or healthy for you. Usually, I am the sort of diva who would not advise walking away from a person or a situation without giving it a lot of consideration. There is the weighing of the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ and all that. You wonder what your life will be like without that person in it. . .or what your days will be like if you quit that job or stop pursuing that career. And when you try to envision your life without that person in it or when you try to imagine what it would be like to head down a different career path or look for another job. . .well, it feels kind of scary, doesn’t it?? Admit it—it makes you feel afraid. It’s like closing your eyes and walking into a room that you’ve never seen before. You have no idea what you might bump into. . .or whether or not there’s a rug that you’ll slip on. . . .or if the room is empty or occupied. So, what do you do? Do you turn around and reverse your choice? Do you decide, rather than walking away, that you should just try to stick it out, no matter what?? No, no, and again, No. If something or someone shouldn’t be part of your life right now, do you really think that’s going to change? Let’s face it, if you’re on that yellow brick road that will take you to your own Emerald City of dreams, are you really going to want to be encumbered by people or things that will only hinder you?? Sure, maybe the job seems steady and reliable. . .and maybe the person whom you know you ought to walk away from says they care about you and have your best interest at heart. But do they? Don’t be fooled by pretty words. If someone says, “I love you,” make sure that their actions are matching their words. If a person tells you that they fully support you, if or when they start sabotaging you in some way, don’t ignore their behavior. Say, “Hey, wait a minute. You said such-and-such but the way you’re acting indicates something else entirely.” Call them on the carpet if you have to.  Confront them. Don’t be afraid. Fear won’t ever get you anywhere. Granted, if they are completely toxic to you and your well-being, they will probably have a whole book full of excuses. Instead of “little black books” some people carry around little books of excuses. If  you look closely, you’ll start seeing that people will be scribbling in these books when you go places. Next time you’re at the airport, in the train station, or at a doctors’ office, observe. Are people scribbling away?? Don’t assume they’re writing in a journal. They’re probably trying to jot down more excuses before they forget about them. Now to frequently use an excuse when you make a mistake that only causes you to suffer. . .well, that’s human and completely understandable.  It’s when you begin using excuses for behavior you demonstrate that hurts other people that you need to realize what’s happening. You are following in the footsteps of the toxic people who came before you. You are avoiding taking responsibility for your behavior. If you fail to apologize when you hurt someone, then you are raising your own toxicity level. Pretty soon, you may be the person that someone else chooses to walk away from. And I know you don’t want people walking away from you. . .unless they’re toxic, of course, and then you’ve had a stroke of good luck. Remember how rare true luck is? Well, you can count yourself truly lucky when a toxic person vanishes from your life. Just look at it as an unexpected blessing.

But what about those people who don’t walk away? Well, you have to decide what you’re willing to put up with. You have to make a choice: Is my relationship with him or her more important than my overall well-being? And however you answer this will determine whether or not it’s time for you to walk away. There are times, of course, when those who care about you or love you don’t fully understand what it is that you need from them. That’s why communication is always essential in any and every relationship you have with another person. What communicating honestly and effectively will enable you to do is determine whether or not the person you are contemplating walking away from is willing to change the behavior that you are finding hurtful or harmful. You cannot present this to the other person in what would be described as an “ultimatum.” Never say something like, “Either you do such-and-such or else I’m out of here.” This will only bring about an atmosphere of intense negativity, and will probably also create hostility. Rather, tell the person that they mean a great deal to you, but that they are hurting you by acting and/or speaking in a certain way. Don’t ever say, “If you love me, you’ll do this” because this will make it sound as if you are questioning the fact that they love or care about you. It will come across as an attempt to make them feel guilty, and if they feel any guilt, make sure that it comes from within them. . .not at your special urging. You can say “Hey, you really hurt me and I won’t be able to keep you in my life if you keep doing this,” but make it clear that you are prepared to walk away. What I mean is, you don’t want to give the impression that you are demanding something that the other person isn’t willing to give. What you want to do is share how you feel, see if he/she respects your feelings, and depending upon whether or not they don’t, either keep them in your life or walk away.

I know I said earlier that if  the other person is a spouse, parent, child, or close relative that you wouldn’t be able to walk away. Well, in many instances, you won’t be able to. But as long as that person isn’t completely dependent upon you (such as a child who isn’t yet an adult or an elderly parent who must be cared for), always know that walking away is at least an option. I have spoken of psychologically distancing yourself and this is possible, too, although, it will never be enough, which means that if there is any way you can walk away and you know, in your heart, that it’s the only way you will ever experience true happiness and fulfillment, do it. Don’t look back over your shoulder, though. Remember the Biblical legend about Lot’s wife turning into a pillar of salt. Salt is something you should be seasoning your life with. It won’t do you any good to turn into a pillar of it *wink*.

Aside from personal relationships, there can also be times when you do have to walk away from a job or a career. I mentioned this briefly, mostly because once I start talking about toxic people and the havoc they can wreak in a person’s life it’s hard for me to address another issue. But, lest you wonder, there are indeed jobs and careers that you should let go of. There can be a lot of different reasons behind this decision, but what should ultimately be the deciding factor is this: if this job or career isn’t the most important thing in my life, how is it preventing me from being able to devote my time and energy to what is most important?? Once you answer that question (and all you have to do is look deeply within yourself), you will know what you must do. You should also ask yourself: Will this job or career fully satisfy me? Or will there always be a feeling of discontentment, a lack of fulfillment, really, deep within myself? If the answer is ‘yes,’ you have but one choice—-walk away. Hey, it’s better to make very little money doing something you love than to spend your entire life doing something you hate or are indifferent towards. For example, if you have a full-time job as an accountant, but you’ve really always wanted to be an artist. . .what are  you waiting for? “But my wife and kids won’t have any food to eat,” you exclaim, “and we won’t be able to pay any of our bills.” Then don’t quit your job right away, but, at least, start making plans for another career. Don’t just let dreams of being the next Van Gogh or Pablo Picasso stay in your head. Make them real. Find a way to do it. Whenever you want something badly enough, when you want it so much that you would be willing to do anything to get it as long as it didn’t compromise your principles and your personal integrity. . .well, go for it.

In a way, I’m realizing that this post is about shedding your life of the things that no longer belong in it, whether they be people or careers or jobs. And I don’t know why I was inspired to address this particular topic at half-past 5 am on a Saturday morning, but, hey, does a Success Diva really have to explain herself? *grin*

It is my hope that I have given you the impetus—or at least, the courage–that you need to start de-cluttering more than your closets. Your life is much more important than those closets, you know, and, there’s a good chance that your life has more clutter in it than any of your closets has ever contained.

Until soon. . .live with passion and enthusiasm every moment of the day! Your life is yours. Live it!

Your Success Diva

I love him or her so much, but. . . .

Okay. You’re in a relationship or friendship with someone whom you know is not a positive influence on your emotional and/or physical well-being? What do you do? Well, I’ve had many women and men come to me to ask my advice in regard to how they can extricate themselves from people whom they are emotionally attached to—in fact, may even very much love—yet who are bringing them more pain than happiness.  Because I cannot put myself in another person’s specific situation, I often hesitate to give advice that is overly emphatic. At the same time, I feel that it is of the utmost importance to look at your life and figure out whether the people whom you are closest to at the present time are helping you or hurting you. “But I love him/her so much,” are the words I continue to hear from those who want to end relationships, engagements, and. . .well, even marriages. Well, what you have to do is weigh the advantages and disadvantages of your relationship with your boyfriend/girlfriend, fiance/fiancee, or spouse. Is this person making your life better on a daily basis? Are they fully committed to making your relationship last? Or are you finding yourself in a situation where you are giving, say, 75% or even 80-90% to the relationship and your significant other is only giving 10-15%. If this is the scenario you are entangled in, is this acceptable on a long-term basis? And, if not, has your beloved one agreed to work to alter the behavior that you find unacceptable? Does he/she think your needs are as important as his/hers??

One of the things I frequently hear from women is that their boyfriends, fiances, or husbands do not demonstrate adequate affection and love towards them on a consistent basis. Well, all I can say is, figure out what you need and share your needs with the person you love. If he/she refuses to meet those needs, move on. Of course, in a marriage, there is more of a reason to hold on and try to work things out no matter what. Who wants to divorce, right? At the same time, remember that you are the most important person in your life. And, even if you have children, those kids are not going to benefit from continuing to be raised in a household where the two parents are not getting along well, are fighting all the time, and/or in a home where abuse (verbal, emotional, psychological, physical, etc.) is taking place. In cases of spousal abuse and things of this nature, my advice is always get out now. Men or women who abuse their partners, whether verbally, emotionally, physically, psychologically, and/or sexually do not stand a very good chance of ever changing. For one thing, they rarely actually want to change, and as I continue to point out, those who change themselves and/or aspects of their behavior must make a conscious choice to change. No change will come about otherwise, although you may hear a lot of grandiose promises and a lot of convincing words. As we all know, however, actions are what really speak—words are just words. It may not be easy to treat the promises and pretty words of the person you love with indifference, but, in the long run, you will thank yourself for doing so. In addition, you will most likely thank your Success Diva for suggesting that you do so. Believe me, I understand how difficult it can be when you suddenly realize that loving someone deeply and eternally isn’t enough. It can be positively devastating. And I’m not going to be one of those “well-meaning” people who will tell you, while patting you on the shoulder or offering you a comforting hug, “Don’t worry, in time you’ll get over it.” There are relationships and people we have loved that many of us never will entirely “get over”.  There may always be certain songs that will always remind us of him/her, certain books that we cannot reading without thinking of him or her, in addition to memories we shared with him/her that left an indelible impression upon us. But then, I never told you that  you have to forget the person that you choose to let go of. For one thing, my telling you to forget him/her wouldn’t do you any good. For another, I cannot imagine ever forgetting anyone whom I thought was quite possibly the love of my life, much less someone whom I lived with and/or have created children with. Thus, I will refrain from sharing with you such insensitive advice. However, if you allow yourself to stop focusing on what is best for you, then you will never be able to create the life of your dreams.

Here are a few more words of advice on the same topic. If you are in a relationship now in which your boyfriend/girlfriend is already demonstrating signs that are indicative that he/she has personal issues that he/she has never worked through and/or are unwilling to work through, leave. After all, truly loving can be about letting go, too. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you can have a long-term relationship with that person nor does it mean that you’re destined to spend the rest of your life with him/her. He or she can be absolutely magnificent in many ways, but if there are negative character traits that are more predominant in his/her personality than those that made you fall in love with him or her, your future together is probably rather bleak. At the best, you will end up selling yourself  short by letting his or her needs continue to come before your own and by making sacrifices that you shouldn’t have to make. Yes, every relationship is about compromise to a certain extent, but when you begin to comprimise who you are just to please him or her, watch out. I would say you are in what is or will very soon become what a call a toxic relationship. Here are two links that may prove to be both helpful and enlightening:

Dealing with Toxic People

http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art39146.asp

How to Handle Toxic People

http://hubpages.com/hub/ToxicPeople

  Sometimes, as the two sites I give links to above will inform you,  there is an underlying cause for behavior that is hurtful or even abusive. It can stem from an undiagnosed and/or untreated mental condition, such as bi-polar or manic-depressive disorder,  schizophrenia, or MPD (multiple personality disorder). I once knew someone who had to end his marriage to a woman he deeply loved because she was schizophrenic and refused to get adequate treatment. One thing that can be extremely difficult to do is to walk away from someone whom you suspect is mentally ill. On a certain level, you feel as if you are deserting him/her. However, look at it this way: unless you are a psychiatrist, you can only do so  much to help him/her. You cannot accurately diagnose him/her, you cannot prescribe or give him/her the medication he or she needs, and, ultimately, you will probably end up witnessing both your beloved one’s destruction as well as your own. Again I repeat: truly loving can often be about letting go. If you find it nearly impossible to let go, ask yourself this: why am I holding onto him/her? His he/she fulfilling some need in my life that I am not fully acknowledging? For instance, could you have a desire to reach out to others and help them? Might some part of you like the idea of helping another person work through issues and becoming his or her “savoir”? Be brutally honest with yourself and answer the questions as candidly as you can. It never does us any good when we lie to ourselves. It only prevents us from being able to create the life of our dreams. . . .and that’s what you want, isn’t it?? I know it is because you’re still reading my blog.

Assuming that you are in a situation in which you know you must let go of someone you quite possibly love as much as you love yourself, I realize that you’re going to want to ask: How do I do this? Do I just walk away? What do I say? Well, if you are married to the person you need to have out of your life, I cannot offer you a simple answer. I would separate from him/her as soon as I could do so and begin divorce proceedings. If, for religious reasons, you do not believe in divorce, a permanent separation is what I would suggest. If you have children, this advice still applies. As for a relationship in which you are not bound to the person via wedding vows, leave as swiftly as you can, but in the way that will bring the least pain to both you and your beloved one. Do not expend energy on telling him/her what you really think of him/her and do not engage in any actions that might be evoked by a desire for revenge. I suspect that if you are at Success Diva’s blog, you don’t allow yourself and your conduct to be ruled by negative and destructive emotions, but when it comes to love, some of us are capable of getting overly passionate, and sometimes our passion can cause us to act in a way that ends up harming both ourselves and others. But, you ask, ” What if I never fall in love again?” Well, I am not obviously going to predict what the future might hold for you. Yet, even if  you should spend the rest of your life alone, your life will still be yours. And there is no reason that you cannot create the life of your dreams, with or without a great love. How many people who have achieved remarkable things and/or have made a tremendous impact on the world have had to content themselves with success in their career endeavors at the expense of  love, romance, and/or long-term companionship? I’m not suggesting that you do so or that you should have to do so. But I assume you wouldn’t be so interested in success if you wanted to devote most of your time, energy, and effort to a relationship that would never bring you ultimate fulfillment or happiness, and that might even be in the process of destroying you, or, at the least, will bring about your ultimate destruction. So, do yourself a favor and let go of any and all relationships and/or friendships (more on friendships in a future post from your Success Diva) that are having an unhealthy and/or destructive impact on you and your life. And don’t wait to do so. Do it now. Things that are already bad have a tendency to get worse instead of better.

Until soon,

Your Success Diva

Need my advice about a specific situation you are dealing with? Write me at successdiva7@yahoo.com I will respond to any mail I receive at this account as soon as I possibly can.

But they mean well. . .don’t they?

Time after time, I come across people who tell me that someone they know or  have known has told them that they are incapable of achieving one or more of their goals. If you want me to be 100% honest with you (and I know that’s what  you want, or you wouldn’t be at my blog), I have had people telling me what I can and cannot do for most of my life. It’s very easy, you see, to steal other peoples’ dreams from them, particularly when you have had to bury many of your own dreams throughout the years. I have begun to realize, as I have gotten older and more perceptive, that more often than not, it’s people who have experienced a string of disappointments in their own lives that will be the first to say to you, “You’re dreaming” or “You’re being unrealistic” or “Don’t you realize that that isn’t going to happen?” Unfortunately, they have become so deeply cynical because of their own experiences, that they are incapable of seeing success or happiness as being realistic or possible for you.  The #1 question you should ask yourself about every person who gives you negative advice is: “Is he/she  living a happy and fulfilling life?” I’m not talking about a life that appears to be successful on one more levels–what I am referring to is a life that has brought or is (preferably) still bringing them personal contentment. For example, if a friend tells you that you might as well give up on finding “true” love, take a look at your friend’s life. Has he/she had a series of painful relationships? Did they go through a nasty divorce? Are they with someone right not who is mistreating them in some way? If they are married or have been married, did they marry for love or was it something they were pressured into, whether by their family or society. . .or, did they marry for companionship, financial security, and/or because they wanted children? If the answer is “Yes” to any or all of these things, then smile politely when they give advice but don’t follow any of it.

If we were living in a world where everyone wanted what was best for everyone else, we could, of course, say, “Well, those people who told me this, they meant well.'” Considering that you cannot possibly be happy if you think everyone is against you, it is probably healthy to think that a lot of the less-than-helpful advice we get is not advice that has nefarious or malicious intentions behind it. At the same time, there are people who really don’t want to see you achieve things that they haven’t achieved themselves. And, let’s be realistic about this: is it not understandable that someone who is in a miserable marriage or relationship would feel at least a little bit envious of you if you have found the love of your life and have a possibility if spending the rest of your life with him/her?? If you are surrounded by people who write but haven’t ever managed to get anything of significance published, are they really supposed to be delighted on your behalf when you publish a best-selling and/or critically acclaimed novel or non-fiction book?? Although it’s nice to think that people want those whom they care about to succeed, it isn’t realistic. There’s no point in resenting them, either. Resentment, like anger and hate, is an emotion that is destructive to both you and those arround you, and destructive emotions have no place in the life of someone who wants to achieve success. What you must do, though, is alienate yourself from those people who don’t truly want you to succeed, whether it means spending less time around them (this isn’t always possible, depending on who the person is) or whether it’s simply distancing yourself from them on an emotional and psychological level. It isn’t always easy, but you really can train yourself to “tune out” criticism that isn’t constructive and advice that will not benefit you. Once again, it’s something you will most likely have to practice doing before it becomes a habit. If you have questions as to how you should deal with those who do not fully support you and your goals, I would suggest that you simply thank them politely for their input and continue on your path to success and happiness as if they had never shared their advice with you. In cases where you are in continuous contact with people who do not share your efforts to make your dreams come true, I would say that the best thing to do is to say to them, courteously yet firmly: “Look, I know your heart is the right place, but I’m really not interested in receiving any more of your advice. Although I’m sure you want to help, I’m in charge of my own life and I need to make my own choices in every area of my life.” There are times when these “well-meaning” friends, family members, and/or acquaintances will not respect the fact that you are taking ownership of your life. It may threaten them to see you in full control of yourself and your decisions. But ultimately, they will at least respect you for standing up for you. Nobody admires a wealking or a pushover or someone who lets other people run their lives. And I don’t know about you, but I would rather be respected and admired than to be everybody’s “darling.” I think Bill Cosby said something simple yet profound when asked what his “definition” of success is: “I don’t know what the secret of success is. . .but I do know that the secret of failure is trying to please everybody.” Yes, there will be people whom you displease because you don’t follow their advice and/or don’t let them steal your dreams from you. There will also be people who chose to disappear from your life because they are personally threatened by the choices you are making on your way to creating the life of your dreams. What you must keep in mind is that anyone who doesn’t support you on your path to success and happiness isn’t worth keeping around. I’m not talking about a spouse (although divorce is always an option, unless you oppose it for religious reasons), a child, a parent, or another close relative, although it’s usually possible to limit contact to a certain extent even in the closest relationships. However, if one of your best friends or your boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t willing to either walk down the path of success and happiness with you. . .or, at the very least, support you fully (not just through what they tell you, but through their actions, as well) as you walk down the path. . .well, you’ll be doing both them and yourself a favor if you part ways with them, and the sooner the  better.  Once you realize that your life is yours and once you commit yourself to creating the life you desire, you start to realize that you won’t be able to bring everybody you care about with you to your ultimate destination. A few people–or even many people–are going to be left behind. But it’s better to leave someone behind than to let that person drag you down the dead end road they’re walking down with them. Sure, it’s tough to have to let go of friendships and relationships that mean something to you. But if someone doesn’t support you in transforming the life you have now into the life of your dreams, they really weren’t on your side to begin with. It may be painful to accept that now, but you’ll be thankful that you did so in the long run. Trust me. I’m your Success Diva, after all, and if you can’t trust your Success Diva, who can you trust?

 

Until soon,

Your Success Diva