Ten years ago I had what I thought was the ‘perfect life’ – it ticked all the boxes and fulfilled all my childhood dreams and ambitions. I had a University education, great job, flash car, big house, swimming pool, beautiful partner, two dogs, loads of friends, a jam packed social life, a fit body and incredible holidays. Not bad for a working class kid from inner city UK. I had become the success I always said I would become…. But under the facade of this successful life was the feeling that something was missing, and the more I had the more I wanted; so I bought CDs, books, food, the newest TV, flash sports gear, gym memberships, games consoles, computers and so on like they were going out of fashion.
Back then if you had asked me “was I successful?” I would have without hesitation said “yes of course, look at what I’ve got”. However, looking back my relationships were shallow and quite dysfunctional – especially the relationship with myself.
I was disconnected from my body, pushing it beyond its limits, relying on caffeine and carbohydrates to get through my day… and falling into bed exhausted after a couple of bottles of beer to help me ‘relax’ and ‘unwind’. But this was no different to the life everyone around me was living, and compared to many of my friends and family I was doing really well – yet my body was telling me otherwise as I was in constant pain and felt anxious or out of my depth most of the time.
One day I stopped and took stock of the life I was living. Slowly I realised that although I seemingly had it all, it actually didn’t feel right as inside I felt unsatisfied and exhausted with trying to keep up the pace of life and the picture of success I was living. “Work hard, play hard, party hard and be hard” was my motto. Was this really the life I wanted?…. where I was cynical, distant, competitive, driven, in pain, anxious, short-tempered and self- centred. A life where I had come to measure my self-worth on the job that I did and the things that I had – and not on the person I was.
What happened to the dreamy-eyed little girl who was full of life, vitality and innocence? Is this what she pictured for herself when she was growing up?
If I could go back and ask her, “when you grow up would you like a big house, fast car, good job? Would you like a partner that loves you for you, respects you and treats you as an equal? Would you like to feel alive and fulfilled?” She would most likely say “yes”.
But if I asked her, “when you grow up would you like a body that hurts all the time? Would you like to be so exhausted that you need food and stimulants to get through the day? Would you like friendships based on common interests, such as competitive sport and drinking alcohol, but that lack true connection on a personal level? Would you like to be successful but still feel there should be more than this?” She is most likely to say “no”.
So why do we accept less for ourselves as adults than the child growing up would wish for? Has our idea of success become so warped that we are prepared to give up on who we are to have it? Perhaps what we were told is a successful life actually isn’t it after all.
I began to question what success meant for me, and how I could go about applying that to my life.
Success for me meant:
- Relationships based on connection, love and equality where there was openness, honesty and the ability to express freely.
- To be able to be vital, joyful and full of life.
- Doing a job I loved and was passionate about.
- Being able to work in a way that did not exhaust me.
- Exercising with respect for what my body can handle.
- Eating foods that are supportive of my body and leave it feeling nourished.
- Not needing caffeine or alcohol to function.
- Knowing that everyone is just like me as on the inside we are all essentially the same; and treating people that way.
- Taking pleasure in simplicity.
- Feeling satisfied and purposeful.
From here I began making changes in my life, in the way I treated myself and others, along with the way I worked. I changed my diet, cut back on my coffees, started going to bed earlier, drank less and not as often, took time for myself, stopped exercising to extremes. I focussed on the people I worked with rather than only the task at hand. I became more caring and considerate of others and stopped getting so emotionally involved with things that didn’t concern me.
These changes came about from my willingness to be honest and honour my feeling that even though I had on paper what appeared to be a great life, it was a sham if deep down I wasn’t truly happy, lacked vitality, and had achieved it by sacrificing the quality I had when I was a little girl. I didn’t do it all alone as I was inspired by the work of Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine. I started bringing gentleness into my life and used the gentle breath meditation as a tool to reconnect to myself and feel where my body was at. Gradually, the feeling that I started to build in my body changed my idea of what does and doesn’t constitute success for me. It would have been easy to say ‘no thanks, my life is great’ and ignore that my body and my emotional state were telling me it simply wasn’t so. However, I had reached a point where I could no longer ignore that nagging feeling that there was more to life and more to who I am than the job that I do and the things that I have.
These changes didn’t happen overnight but were and still are a work in progress.
Ironically, because of the choices I have made I would now be considered more successful than ever with my own business, flasher car, bigger house, more income and great relationships. But for me the measure of my success is that ten years on I have a body that is free from pain 95% of the time, I no longer feel anxious or pressured, my relationships with myself, my partner, family and friends are more loving and honest. I feel more able to express myself and say how I feel and am willing to work on myself and any unresolved emotional issues that I have. I sleep well and feel full of energy and do not need caffeine, alcohol and excess food to get through my day. I love my job and have a sense of satisfaction and purpose. I have passion for life and feel just like I did when I was a little girl.
Now to me the definition of success and a life worth living is a life based on love, a life where I know who I am.