“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill, politician
“…I’m a failure…my past, my present and, I expect…my future as well!”
Jonas was a friendly, retired civil servant who had recently divorced his second wife, Sofia. He had two children from his first marriage to Helga but none from his second.” His son, Kurt, was an accountant in Toronto while his daughter, Sonia was in nursing school in Halifax. Jonas had four granddaughters, two from each of his children. He had a cordial relationship with Helga, but Sonia was taking him to divorce court.
Jonas was on the short side and barrel chested with about 40 extra pounds which his height exaggerated. His long, white beard, drooping over his belly like waterfall, added more imbalance. He looked overweight, but worse, overwhelmed!
Jonas had risen to a middle management position in a large federal department and retired with a full person. But he seemed very dissatisfied with both his past and his present. When I asked him how he viewed his future he replied,
“About the same as my past and present!”
“What distresses you the most about your future, Jonas?” I asked.
He replied quickly, as if waiting all day for someone to ask, “Let’s cut to the chase scene in the movie of my life, Ken,…I’m a failure…my past, my present and, I expect…my future as well!”
“Give me the short list of, what you call, your failures, Jonas.”
“That’s easy…my two failed marriages; I’m really alone now; my children, who make no time for me; my grandchildren, who I rarely see; nothing to show for my 30 years in government; only two or three friends I can really depend on;…and I could go on!” he replied, as if he had rehearsed his list regularly, in recent days.
“It sounds like you have been giving this some thought recently, Jonas.” I said. Then I added, “How do you determine if something in your life is successful?”
“Ken, I went and looked it up in Webster’s dictionary, success means having the correct or desired result …that doesn’t apply to any part of my life!”
“I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”
– Michael Jordan, athlete
“…in nature, success has only one meaning…survival!”
“Jonas, what is the part which you think is your biggest failure…your biggest lack of success?”
“There are several that spring to mind, but the one which is my biggest failure is my two marriages…I know I can be a real jerk at times…but when I think of how I screwed up my relationships with the mother of my children, and now with Sofia…I realize my life has been a complete failure!” he said, the sadness overwhelming his face as I watched.
“I curious how you can call your first marriage a failure when you sound like you have two successful children and four granddaughters?”
“Yes, but we should all be together sharing happy times at this point in my life…not me talking to lawyers about my my divorce from Sofia!”
“Jonas!” I said carefully, “I don’t think you’re aware of what success really is, in life!”
“What do you mean?” he replied.
“Jonas, success is nature has really only one meaning, and since, we are part of nature, that meaning applies to you and I as well!”
“I’m not sure what you’re referring to Ken.” he replied with a confused expression.
“Jonas, in nature, success has only one meaning…survival! But this survival, in humans, can take many forms such as: achieving your spiritual mission, attaining your special mental genius, having fulfilling work, obtaining financial wealth, developing a social network, having familial stability or even physical vitality.”
“But Ken, I have none of those…I have no measures of success in my life!”
“I think your very presence here, talking with me, demonstrates your life successes in many, many ways, Jonas!”
“Look at me, Ken! What have I achieved that anyone could call success? I’m a twice divorced, a lost and lonely man, facing his remaining years alone, and confused!”
The secret of success is learning how to use pain and pleasure instead of having pain and pleasure use you. If you do that, you’re in control of your life. If you don’t, life controls you.” – Tony Robbins, author
“Jonas, it doesn’t matter what I think…what do you think?”
“Can I offer you another perspective, Jonas?”
“I’d welcome any, because mine is so depressing!”
“Jonas, you display to me a determined spirit in spite of your challenges; your long career in the civil service must have provided you with an opportunity to display your special talents successfully in your work; your financial situation must be, at least OK, given your here in my office; you mentioned you had three close friends, the norm in my experience for a successful person; you have relationships with your first wife, your children and grandchildren; and appear to have energy and health…all sound measures of a successful life!”
Jonas stared at me, aghast. He was silent for a long moment. Then he said, “I would not have described my life in that way…it would never have occurred to me to do so! But as you say it, there is some truth in what you say! But what about all the pain, all the hurt, all the sadness I’ve experienced?”
“Jonas, did you learn somewhere you get your success for free…that it does not have to be paid for, in some way? Have you been believing there is not a perfect balance to each and every part of nature, and your life which is part of it?”
“Ken, are you saying successful people have an equal measure of pain to their degree of success?”
“Jonas, you already know that’s true…you know there is no flowers without manure, no sunshine without rain…no pleasure without equal pain…it’s nature’s law of learning.”
“So, you’re telling me I have not been recognizing, or appreciating, the success in my life…is that it, Ken?”
“Jonas, it doesn’t matter what I think…what do you think?” I asked him.
“Truthfully, when I stop and think about it carefully…there are things in my life I do appreciate, like my children and granddaughters…I have my health… and, as you mentioned, my lifelong, close friends…and, even my work…I loved my job and I think I contributed in some way by what I did…I guess, I really haven’t made the time to consider my life truthfully.”
“Let’s get even more specific in time and place, Jonas. Tell me one of the worst moments in your life so far?”
“There is no success without hardship.” – Sophocles, poet
…I wasn’t going to give up on myself or them…
“Wow, that’s an unusual question. I guess one of the big ones would be when Helga, my first wife, said she was leaving me. I remember it was on a Friday morning, after the kids had left for school. I was devastated! I knew we were struggling but I just couldn’t believe she would really leave.”
“Jonas, at the moment when she told you, what exactly did you do to deal with it?”
“I remember I went down to our rumpus room and sat on the couch, thinking about how I was going to cope and how I was going to tell the kids. I was so worried about how they would cope. Looking back now…they did fine, but I didn’t!”
“What was the biggest benefit to you by doing just what you did at that moment…what did you learn at that second, looking back now, which successfully changed your life, and still impacts how you live today, Jonas?”
“What I remember from that day, and that moment, was I was not going to lose my relationships with my kids…I was not going to be one of those distant fathers…I was going to make sure I stayed close to them…I was going to get through this somehow…I wasn’t going to give up on myself or them! That what comes to mind, as I think back now to that morning. Is that what you are getting at, Ken?”
“Jonas, that’s exactly what I’m getting at…it sounds like that was the moment in your life when you successfully honoured your own values by committing to you own well being, and your relationship to your children! Had those two values been a challenge for you before this time?”
“Success is the sum of small efforts – repeated day in and day out.”
– Robert Collier, Author
“…that event was like a successful ‘wake up’ call for you to take control…”
“Ken, at that time in my job, I was on the road a lot, tired and stressed, and it was starting to show up in my health, as well. So, yes, I was heading towards being one of those ‘distant’ failing fathers, and it was part of the reason Helga left.”
“So, can you see that event was like a successful, ‘wake up’ call for you to take control of your own well being and your children’s as well. You can recall the pain at that moment…but, can you also see, now the success, the pleasure or the benefits which came to you, at the same moment?”
“Ken, I see it now…but why didn’t I see it back then?” he asked.
“Jonas, only because you didn’t have the level of awareness then, which you do now!”
“Looking back now from this perspective neutralize the pain, and actually makes me appreciate that moment in a new, grateful way…is that what’s supposed to happen?”
“Yes, Jonas! So, can you see, when you look at it fully and truthfully, what happened was not a mistake, it was a success for you and your entire family?”
“Yes, I can see it now…what a difference it makes in how I see that event. And, I guess, if I can uncover the truth about that moment, I can do it for any others I want…eh?”
“Yes, Jonas…that’s what you need to do to get control of your past, your present and your future! Do you want to do that work?”
“I do indeed! There are several other events I need to see more truthfully regarding other parts of my life, Ken!” he replied.
And, Jonas did that work and cleaned up the emotional baggage he had been carrying around for years. He was even successful in getting Sofia to agree to a collaborative divorce, which enabled them to save time, money and, part as respectful, ex-spouses.
“There is no success without a failure, and no failure without a success…ours is a dualistic universe!” – King Ayles, author
Until Next time…
So, remember, there are no mistakes in your past, only specific events, where you haven’t been noticing the two sides. If you make the time to honestly uncover the other, positive side, you can let it go emotionally, and appreciate it and yourself, for how it served you to be who you are today.
If you are struggling in your relationship, please go to our NEW VIDEO on how you can deal with it
If you find our posts useful, please share them with your circles of influence, your family, friends and colleagues. Encourage them to subscribe to our FREE Newsletter and ebook, “Finding Balance in Your Life” And, please like us on Facebook or Twitter.
Remember the next “Transformation Day” Seminar on April 25, 2015 at our offices. Details are available at ww.kenpiercepsychologist.com
Send us your feedback and topic suggestions…we love to hear from you! If you have a specific question or wish to schedule a consultation, feel free to contact me.
Namaste, (I salute the grandly organized design of the universe, manifested in you!)
Further information: www.kenpiercepsychologist.com