the biggest detriment to your success

What is success

What is success. The definition success, in Webster’s dictionary, “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”.  Why do we want to succeed, and at what particular task or goal are we trying to succeed at.  Are our goals and dreams our own or are we trying to succeed at something that is not congruent with our values and wants?
I have only had some limited success in life. A large part of being successful is being able to put your self out there and take chances.  Playing it safe, and living a meek life will not allow you the opportunities to be in the right place at the right time when opportunity strikes.

How to be successful

How to increase your chances of success anyways? I would say the most important predictor of being successful is someone who is willing to fail over and over again, and keep on persevering  A person who is open to experiences and someone who willing to meet new people and put themselves in uncomfortable situations.
Now you might say, “hold on, I’m an introvert, there is no way I am going to be able to put myself out there”. To that response, I would say “bullshit”. Anyone can change the way they behave if they are determined enough.  It takes modifying your behavior one small step at a time.  For example, instead of spending quiet time alone at home, you join a Zoom meeting for writers interested in writing their memoirs.
Success takes persistent dogged determination.  But it doesn’t have to be a grind. You can work on what you are trying to accomplish one small step at a time.

Why strive for success?

I would say that the best reason I have for striving to become better person than you were yesterday is the simple reason that I like to improve.  , others might have other motivations for success:  respect,  money, adoration.  The source for what motivates an individual to strive for success can be vast.
Regret could be one of the biggest motivators.  Life is short, and the more you wait to accomplish your goals, the less chance  will have time to complete what you set out to accomplish.
Along with success comes the rewards: money, accolades, respect from others. Many strive for success for the material gains in life.  In America, if you are a success, you are revered.  To be successful to many is all that there is to be gained in life.

Is there a downside to success?

There are two sides to a coin, when pursuing your dreams.  There is always the chance that things will not work out, no matter how much time and energy is put into the endeavor, however, usually with persistence, the odds of realizing ones dreams increase.
To pursue success and achieve ones goals, a significant amount of time usually needs to be dedicated. If someone has a family, it is often times that family time is sacrificed in order to make more time for ones endeavors.  Someone can be a success in finance, but at the same time be a complete failure as a father.  There is a price to success, in many situations.

Should I pursue success?

When success it is not the end goal to someones aspirations but a byproduct of someone’s dreams, anything is possible.  Like the artist who cannot stop painting.  Sure, they had dreams of being famous from time to time, but the true source of their success was their undying desire to create are and share with the world their creations.
When success doesn’t poison the well, but instead spurs someone on, encouraging them to create, explore, connect and grow, I believe that is when success is realized

Midlife career change

How do we know where to head when we don’t know where we currently are? I have been struggling with finding my path in life for quite a while now.  I would like to change careers but I don’t know what career suites me.  I am afraid to step off the ledge.

My biggest fear would be…well, fear.  Fear of the unknown. It probably also doesn’t help that I don’t trust my intuitive instincts. I want to say that I am consciously aware of what I want and don’t want in life, but I would be lying. I struggle to understand what my base needs and desires are.

I know that I crave to live an autonomous life. I want to work for myself.  Back when I was in my late teens, I ran a small lawn care business.  I mowed a number of people’s lawns throughout the summer. It was enjoyable.  I arrived when I wanted at the job, and I took as many breaks and as long a lunch as I wanted, too.

I just struggle in seeing the big picture.  I let each day go by with no progress in sight, firm plan of what I am trying to accomplish. It’s frustrating, and time keeps ticking by. I struggle to see where I stand in this life.

I don’t feel like I fit in, especially in the corporate culture. I feel like I aged out at 40.  That is crazy to think of, but today’s work environment seems to be tailored to baby the millennial generation.   A 9-5 job pays well in some regards, but you give up a hell of a lot in return. I never really thought of it that much until recently.  You lose a lot of your freedom in some sense, and autonomy and purpose are usually put to the side in favor of what the employer’s wants are.

So, what do I want in this life? Like I said, autonomy is paramount.  I would like to pursue multiple areas of interest, if possibly.  I have bought and sold on Ebay for over twenty years. Jesus, has it been that long, really? I think pursuing a side hustle in flipping items and sourcing items from online and locally could be pretty lucrative.  I would need to build up the business, though.  Nothing is for free, well it is…but that is another story.

I want to also pursue creative work.  I am artistically inclined, though, I am very rusty and I don’t have many skills, but I am a good learner. I love to learn.  I have read a number of articles from people in the business that say after 40, you will have a hard time finding work in the creative field. I don’t know if this is true, but I think there are areas or niches where this isn’t so prevalent.  I just like the idea of working remotely and using skills that I have to earn more money.  I don’t want to rely on one employer.  I have a drive to use my creative mind, to design and create.

Helping and connecting with others is also a big drive for me.  Over the past couple months, I have joined a number of Zoom meetups, and I have met a lot of great people.  I never really explored this side of myself. I am pretty avoidant, so I don’t usually put myself out there that often. It has been a wonderful experience to open myself up to others, and be well received.   People on the whole are good.

So, that is about it. I want to work for myself, where I can use my intuition to procure items, and sell them to the highest bidder. I would also like to polish my skills in creative work, and at the same time reach out and build meaningful connections with others.

I’m sure there are others out there in the same predicament.  It seems that I have come across others who are in their early 40’s or later that have come to the realization that what they are currently doing for work is not what they would like to continue to do until they retire. And this is ok.  You are only on this planet for a finite amount of time.  I think it is wise to steer yourself onto a better path, even if some people might be dismayed by your decision.

Strive to be more creative

What is creativity? The dictionary defines it as “the use of the imagination or original ideas, especially in the production of an artistic work”. I ask this question because it feels like I have lost my ability to be creative.  They say that creativity is like a muscle, you have to flex it in order for it to be developed.

For the better part of my life, it seems that I have purposefully shunned my creative nature. I have avoided using creativity to possibly make my life more enjoyable and express who I truly am.

Like all children, I grew up liking to draw and create. It seems this is a natural proclivity for all small children. Throughout middle school and high school, I drew and art class was by far my favorite subject.  High school like for many introverted, shy individuals, it was not very kind to me. Though, I had some friends, I never felt like I truly belonged.

After high school, I stopped drawing for the most part.  I took an art class at a local community college, but besides that I never really pursued an other creative courses.

Here I am today, working to define who I truly am.  The key areas of interest to me that keep coming up are: Writing, drawing, and designing. The common theme it seems among these areas of interest is that imagination and creativity play a big part in all of them.

The jobs that I have held in the present and past have all relied heavily on analytical thinking. None of my past jobs have been tied to creativity.  When I look back on my past, I believe my authentic path would have been to become a graphic designer or a counselor.  I struggle to imagine myself finding a path to get into either field, currently.

Since my youth, I was never an avid writer.  Only recently have I had an interest in picking up a pen and put words down on paper. I find that expressing myself in writing alleviates some of the cognitive burden I sometimes feel that wells up in my mind.  I try to fill out one page per day, expressing the current thoughts that run through my mind. It helps.

Designing, I have not studied up on too much.  I have a knack for noticing details, if I pay close attention to my environment.  My senses are more my achilles heel than my strength, though. When stressed, I tend to overlook the details.  This can bring me much frustration and consternation.  I love color and shape. I marvel at the lines and structural features of a car or the curves of a woman’s body.

I have a need to express myself creatively.  To let it to continue to wither on the vine, as I slowly get older doesn’t feel like an option anymore.  The world is too bland and boring to continue on the same emotionless path that I have been taking.  I want to set on my own path, and anyone be damned to question that I should stick to a more standard, safe route.

If you are not growing, then you are definitely dying.  The life that you want will not just fall in your lap, you will need to work to make it come a reality. I plan on working to make my life filled with more creativity and joy.

 

 

To Be Kind Allows You to Be Kind to Others

I haven’t always been kind.  Actually, until recently, I never gave it much thought or attention. I was always blunt to some extent when conveying to others how I felt or what my opinion was in relation to what we were speaking about. You see,  I just didn’t give that much of a damn.  It never weighed on my conscience, or it could have also been that I was not overly aware or interested in others thought of me.  I was, and I think still am to a certain extent a perpetually unhappy person.

Recently, I have been making progress on being more mindful on how I treat others.  I think a lot of my self growth has stemmed from addressing my past. Only recently have I fully acknowledged the narcissistic abuse that I endured as a child.  And if you have come from a similar past or have been in a relationship with a true narcissist, you will understand that they leave a large swathe of dysfunctional wreckage in their wake.

You are left picking up the pieces of your life, long after you have separated from them, or have had the ability to distance yourself from their traumatic abuse and mind games. Being able to focus and resolve old wounds from my past has given me new insight into how I treat others around me. You see, I too have narcissistic traits. I gain the trust of others, and then purposefully devalue the individual ever so slightly.  Like a thousand paper cuts, it takes time for the residual effect to set in.  To behave this one, I see now that it is very unkind and destructive to both parties.

Now that I have a better vision of how I behave and where these traits originated, I am in a better position to change them.  The biggest shift is that since I have a better understanding of myself, and by practicing self forgiveness, I am on a trajectory to treating myself better. Forming a better relationship with ones self is the quickest way, in my honest opinion, being able to form stronger relationships with others.

Mindfulness, and positive self regard are the two most powerful tools someone can have to build a better, kinder future for yourself and your loved ones.

 

Only the good memories, please

One of my earliest memories was me as a three-year-old boy exploring the space under the living room table.  In the wee morning hours, the first rays of sunshine shimmering through the glass pane windows of the living room.  Time seems to stand still when I think back to this brief period of my youth.  It still feels like time has stopped, I have been transported back in time and, and once again, I have all the time in the world to ponder and discover new things.

I haven’t made the most of my time on this planet. Maybe many can relate with my sentiment.  When we are young, there is so much promise, so much untapped potential.  Maybe this is why older folks smile so endearingly at their grandchildren.  Because of the hope and promise that the future generation brings to them.

Lying underneath the massive table, I can still envision myself on all fours peering out through the legs of the chairs.  looking up at the living room window, my mom had strung a large glass crystal, shaped like a teardrop, secured with a piece of fishing line, pinned to the top of the window’s frame.  The crystal, when given a slight turn, would produce a thousand shards of light, filling the room with a flurry of dancing, shimmering rainbows.  The light projected onto the ceiling, walls, and floor would always bring a smile to my face.  I remember sitting under the table and just looking up in awe at the light show that surrounded me.  These brief moments of time still fill me with great wonder and contentment.  Just me and my imagination to keep me company.

when I was four I remember my teacher helping me make a wax candle in kindergarten. I remember this memory fondly. I had the job of producing the large indent in the sandbox, and then the teacher would pour the hot wax into the indentation, and insert a wick soon after before the wax had a chance to cool.  How proud I was to be involved in such a marvelous, challenging project. 

Or when I would spend time on the back porch of our home in California, playing in the sandbox.  I would build these large sandcastles and place the hose at the center base of the form.  When the castle was complete, I would turn on the hose, and watch with glee as the water would eventually erupt through the side, and expediently disintegrate my creation.

In in early summer morning, tucked away under theshade of the trees, I remember sitting in an old shell of a boat with a wheel attached at the stern, in a playground,  looking up at a church bell, as it chimed, counting off as it slowly made its way to eleven.  Another time, I remember, me and my family visiting an outdoor amphitheater in the park.  It was spring time. We watched the 1968 movie, Oliver.  What a brutal movie, from what I remembered, nonetheless, an enjoyable, memorable experience.

These were all fond memories.  Maybe that is what we all should focus on, and consciously reflect on more of.  There are good times and bad times in everybody’s life, shouldn’t the good times get the most time in the highlight reels of our minds?

Forgiveness

It is hard to forgive.  When you forgive, you are in a way forgiving yourself and the other party for their transgressions against you.  But true forgiveness seems to be so far out of reach.  To truly forgive, one must consciously know deep down the extent of the damage inflicted upon their unconscious soul.

To truly forgive, it is almost if you have to be fully self aware of where the cancer is inside your body.  If you cut out 95% of the tumor, the other 5% will cause the cancer to spread, again. To fully, whole heartedly forgive, it seems that you have to be a very self aware individual.  I like to think I am mindful, but I know deep down this is not very true.  I know I have many unconscious thoughts and beliefs, even though I have been practicing meditation for a number of years now.

How do you fully forgive someone.  Maybe, with concentrated mental focus, someone can commit to forgiveness for a particular action, and by sheer concentration, and persistence, extricate the burden from their body.  I don’t think true forgiveness is for the weak of heart. It takes commitment, and sound determination.

I’m talking about forgiveness related to the big things in life.  Emotional abuse, cheating, betrayal.  There are far greater abuses that some are able to offer up forgiveness for, but I won’t go there.

I guess the one thing that I learned about forgiveness, is that you don’t forgive so much for the other party but rather to save yourself the burden and torment of carrying around hurtful memories of the past.

To forgive is to actively provide hope that you have a brighter future.  Forgiveness provides you with a chance for a new beginning.  Forgiveness instills in you a sense of internal power, that you are in charge of your destiny, and how you ultimately feel. The other party has no power over how you live your life anymore, or how respond.

But, again, forgiveness is tough.  Anyone can say the words “I forgive”, but behind those simple words, a lot conscious deliberate thought, action, and personal growth have to present for it to come true.

 

When will this be over?

I don’t know about you but I am fed up with this Pandemic.  When it first reared its ugly head, back in early March,  nobody (including government officials) knew much about the virus and how it spread, its lethality or how many people were already infected.

Wide spread fear, hoarding of essential items: toilet paper, hand sanitizer, canned goods flew off store shells.  Boxes of n95 face masks were being sold for one hundred times their original worth.  News outlets shamelessly ran article after article drilling into the reader that the world was coming to an end.  I too was caught up in the pandemonium.   Some decisions I made were logically sound, and others were not so much.

Now, I am being told that we are only in the third inning of this battle.  By staying home, the country has been able to bend the curve and reduce infections, but not eliminate them. A number of states (mostly in the south) pushed to reopen their doors quickly to stem the tied of any further economic damage.  Unfortunately, as was expected, new cases of infection are increasing at an ever quickening pace.  The president, when asked if there was a plan to shelter in place a second time, suggested that there wasn’t.

Essential workers, such as delivery drivers, nurses, and even grocery clerks have had to contend with possibly becoming infected on a daily basis.  Under paid and overworked,  they take their lives in their own hands.  All the while, officials, through their shear incompetence exacerbate the issue by pointing fingers and make excuses, instead of taking meaningful and effective action to stem the tied of new infections.

So, now we are in inning three of this strange circumstance we find ourselves in. Isolated more than ever, people are experiencing depression on a wide scale.  Mourning their old life. Sure, maybe my old life was boring and uneventful, but at least I didn’t have this existential feeling of impending doom, and fear of my mortal demise constantly stalking me where ever I go. if I happened to forget to wash my hands after my bi weekly trip to the local supermarket, I feel a sense of unease, of living a precarious life.

There is something to be said about the human condition, where humans, through shear boredom or frustration, decrease their vigilance in taking the necessary precautions to not get infected. Washing the hands, sanitizing your living space, wearing of the mask, and not touching the face.  Humans can only be so vigilant for so long.  Self control takes will power, and mankind does not have an infinite supple of willpower.

So, it seems that the infection rate will continue to increase. We will see a second wave, the only key question is, how bad will it actually get? With limited testing, and no real plan on testing and tracing, I don’t really see any alternative to sheltering in place. But the economic consequences of shutting down the country for another couple months will have a significant effect on peoples health too. One can only hope that we get through this in one piece.

I stopped watching the news related to the pandemic.  It is too much to bear.  It is too depressing and the information is inconsequential in relation to how it could ever benefit me.  News today isn’t really news.  It is form of a highly processed lunch meat.  Filled with a host of cancer causing elements.  The news today is used to sow fear in the people that consume it.  This way people keep returning.  You can get addicted to reading that smut.  Pundits who righteously lambast the other side for their misdeeds. It is all about ad revenue,  money. So, yeah, I don’t really read the news anymore. I have much better things to do with my time.

I think things will turn out well in the end. I know I worry way too much about what may come, but worrying doesn’t benefit anybody.  You just end up wasting more of your time.  So, stay safe out there.  I take solace in knowing that this whole mess will not last forever. Eventually, there will be a vaccine, and then we can get back to living our boring uneventful lives.

Growing up with a narcissistic parent

Only recently did I grasp the idea that my father is a narcissist.  I always wondered why I felt so strange and out of place in our home. Why I can not let go of my trauma ladened past.  Why I keep obsessing over how wronged I was.  I felt like I sounded like a broken record. like I was reliving my past over and over again.  Like a spirit with unfinished business here on this planet, destined to walk the empty land after dusk searching for my soul.

Finally, after all the years of therapy I think I have an answer to why if felt so alone, anxious, sad, depressed, out of touch with myself and this world. Why I was in a career I hated, why I had trouble expressing myself to others, why I felt so empty inside.  My fathers father was abusive to him, and most likely a narcissist himself.  I guess he just passed down this trait to his son.

My brother and I have no plans on having children.  I like children but I don’t want any of my own. When I think of having a son, the first thought that races through my mind is that he will disappoint me.  I am still struggling to form my own identity, and I am in my early forties.

When I was growing up, I always felt like my siblings, me and my father and mother were not really a cohesive family, but more like a group of strangers that happened to live under the same roof.   Nobody really knew each other, but we shared a home, nonetheless.

My mother, I realized recently, who endured the same emotional abuse, as me and my brother,  I saw as an equal, or of lesser status on the totem pole.  My relationship with her deteriorated after I realized I could not rely on her to protect us from my father’s abuse. So, instead of retaining the role of mother, she was demoted to runt, someone to be manipulated and pushed around.  Just another sad individual that I shared a living space with.  I think she gave up on her role as mother, too. She still cooked and cleaned, but she seemed to resign herself to her shitty existence.

it’s all quite sad, really.  I am sure this plays out in thousands or even millions of homes.  When you are raised by a narcissist, you either become one yourself or if you are the more empathetic type, you suffer the full consequences of the narcissistic abuse in agonizing silence.   I would surmise that the more thinking types, are prone to becoming narcissists themselves. The cold analytical thinkers, who have a proclivity to competing and attaining material wealth.   The feeling types,  well, they are mostly not much for aquiring material wealth, and by their very nature they go out of their way to treat others well. They get shit on and shit on themselves, for that matter. 

My brother and I are both empaths, and narcissists are drawn to empathetic individuals, like a moth is drawn to a flame.  Empaths provide narcissists with their supply.   I only wish I had known as a child to just keep my mouth shut and not provide the narcissist with what he needed.  My father is a coward and a sad old man.  His legacy is the hurt and shame that he brought into his family.  How short life is. Make sure to treat others well, because the only thing left, when you dead, are the memories that live on in your loved one’s mind.  Make sure they are fond memories.

Sometimes I am nice, and other times I am kind.

She accused me of being nice.  How dare she accuse me of being nice, I know I am a kind person. I told her this, but she still did not agree with me. What is the difference between being kind and being nice, anyway?

Thinking back on my conversation with my coworker, I still wonder, am I kind or am I nice, or both?  I think I am both.  Sometimes its a little of column A and other times it’s a little of column B.

Why does it really matter, as long as I am kind or nice, isn’t that enough? She didn’t believe so.  I remember reading an article a short while ago where they polled a group of women, asking them what particular trait they looked for in a man the most.  I thought for sure it would be power, looks, money, but no, it was kindness…shit!.

So, after giving it much thought, I realized she was right, I was nice. Even more so, I am nice to a point. I use my niceness to manipulate the outcome of the conversation.  I use niceness as a tool to persuade someone or appease the other party.

You see, I am a people pleaser. I do not like conflict one bit.  I grew up in a pretty dysfunctional home environment so I hate conflict and avoid it at all cost.  If I have to agree to your point of view to avoid an argument, you bet I will bend over backwards to agree with you.  Being nice and fitting in come naturally.  I’m a natural born chameleon.  I had to be. My father’s mood could change like the direction of the wind. My safety and security depended on my ability to manipulate the mood of the room by joking or changing the conversation.

I have been doing a lot of reading on narcissism, lately, and I am coming to terms to how much of an effect it has had on my life.  I have started to realize that I am not as kind as I thought I was. I’m nice, but I think I have always been afraid to be kind.  The weak and naive are kind, I always thought. But I realize that this isn’t true at all.  To be kind to others, to be open and vulnerable, in a sense takes a lot of courage, and shows that the person has emotional maturity.

So, I want to try and be more openly kind. I want to connect more with others, where before I would shy away.  I think being kind will suit me.  I sure hope it does, at least.

Back again, for now.

I haven’t written much on this blog for quite a while. Actually, it been over six months since my last post. It is so easy for me, and probably many others to have high and lofty expectations that I would hammer out a blog post bi-weekly or weekly at the very least, but it seems like in every ambitious pursuit I have in life, it slowly wanes over time and peters out.

I would love to say that I have been spending my time wisely, but this would be a lie.  Like most others, for the past few months, I have been gripped with mortal fear.  Fear of the great plague that has engulfed the world.  In the beginning, I was so affected by the news and general hysteria that I could barely get out of bed.  My head felt like it weighed fifty pounds, my limbs felt as if there were sandbags tied to them.  the mind foggy, and the body tired.  I just wanted to sleep through this nightmare.

In the past, nations that have found themselves in peril have routinely found some solace in the strong minded leadership that governs them.  What we have currently governing  us are parasites of no moral or ethical forbearance whatsoever.  Corrupt, narcissistic, greedy,  sociopathic and inept cowards with no redeemable qualities.

As a child, I grew up under the direct supervision and control of a narcissist.  This reminds me of how I felt as a child.  The lack of boundaries, loss of security.  Not knowing how the parent will behave from one moment to the next.  This is how the potus operates, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.  To have to deal with not one but two disasters is too much to bare.

As for the chaos caused by the movement, black lives matter,  I don’t see it as a detriment to our country.  Actually, it might be the best thing that has happened to this country since the pandemic arrived.  People don’t realize change has arrived until it smacks them straight upside the head.  America has slowly become more of a mixed bag, racially.  By 2045 caucasians will be the minority.  Also, people of all colors, including whites who are not part of the 1%, have many common needs, wants, aspirations.  These include safe neighborhoods, clean drinking water, better pay, universal healthcare.  The pandemic and the BLM movement has for the most part brought people of all races, together.  It has strengthened the bond of neighbors and communities.  The pandemic has had this affect on communities and social groups all over the nation, too.

I think, in the end, after all this blows over. When there is a vaccine readily available, and when the social strife recedes into the history books, we will look at this period of time in America, as a time of vast social change and rebirth of what being an American really means.  This is what is needed right now in American, to right the wrongs, and expel the fat cats from Washington.  VIVA REVOLUTION!

I have been feeling a need to write more lately.  I’m not sure what I will be writing about next, but I think expressing myself through writing can only be healthy in these anxious, strange times.