Mindful presence and growth occurs at the point of when you begin to meet yourself where you are. You cannot grow beyond where you are by comparing your present self to an imaginary future self and wishing things were different. You also cannot grow by comparing yourself to others or by judging your achievements through another person’s lens. The gap between where you are and what your soul desires, will always be there unless you join them, by coming completely into the moment of acceptance of who you are and where you are at in your life. This means embracing all of your flaws and treating your mind, body and soul with kindness, gentleness and acceptance. It means letting go of what the mind thinks it wants and just accepting everything as it is. If you had a childhood where you were not accepted, then this is especially important for you to start practicing.
We are constantly pushing forward to achieve an ideal of what we think we want or what we think we should be, in order to be successful, fit in or be happy. We’re striving for that moment of reaching the tip of the imaginary mountain, where we throw our arms up in the air and yell out “I’ve achieved life!” This constant, mindless striving creates an energetic rift between yourself and your heart’s desires, because on the one hand you are saying to yourself that who you are and where you are at in life, isn’t good enough. The moment we come into acceptance and genuine kindness, gratitude and care for who we are, is the moment we change and life follows suit. The reason for this is that nothing changes for the better without growth.
Growth and gratitude work in tandem. Growth is the radical acceptance and care of who you are and gratitude is the joy that flourishes from self-care and appreciation. Striving to achieve goals through stress, wishful thinking or perfectionism is the opposite to growth, and the road is much longer and windier. Start where you are – and if there are aspects of yourself that you cannot or will not accept, then start your healing work there. Those are your opportunities to transform and flourish, and they are what most need your attention and care.
As a personal example, I have a good career, a degree in Psychology and I am rich with wonderful people and friends in my life. I have a good life. It’s not an easy life and sometimes situations suck, but overall I’m very grateful for the friendships and love that I have in my life. Where I have gone wrong in the past, is by measuring my own worthiness and belonging in society to what I own and what I have. I drive a very old car that looks like it’s seen better days. I compare myself to others who drive practically new cars and feel a sense of not fitting in or being judged because I’m that mother that drives a very old, seen better days car. It sounds incredibly shallow and I know that this fear has come from what I’ve learned from my family group as a child – that to fit in and be accepted, you have to look like you’re part of the club.
I very much doubt, that at the end of my life, I’ll be looking back on that car and thinking ‘geez, I wish I’d been driving a new Volvo!’ No, I’ll be looking back on all of the wonderful memories I have had in raising my child and watching her grow into an adult, I’ll be treasuring all of the wonderful relationships and people that I have had in my life. I’ll be looking back feeling proud of everything I have achieved for my family and for myself.
Learning what you truly want begins at the point of acceptance of who you are and where you are at in life. It cannot happen before then. The goals that individuals strive for where they believe obtaining a particular career, car, house, money will bring them happiness, is an illusion of unworthiness wrapped in glitter. These things don’t bring happiness, belonging or success.
Society is very good at engineering what success should look like. Just by typing in success into Google Images you will find pictures of individuals loaded with cash, that new car or house and that Instagram perfect happy snap. Not to say that these things are not nice to have or strive for, but as a society we have to better at striving for things that are genuinely worthy – like self acceptance, honouring vulnerability, being gentle and kind to others including animals and nature and striving for dreams based on how we can grow instead of goals that we measure our own worthiness against.
So forget society’s, your family’s and your old ideas of what success should look like. Define it for yourself and in the meantime spend the time needed to accept who you are and where you are at.