Positivity, Potential & Failure

You will not grow if you sit in a beautiful flower garden, but you will grow if you are sick, if you are in pain, if you experience losses, and if you do not put your head in the sand, but take the pain and learn to accept it, not as a curse or punishment but as a gift to you with a very, very specific purpose.

ˇ   Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


Fulfilling Your Potential

Transformation occurs when existing solutions, assumed truths and past decisions are exposed as unrealistic or unnecessarily self-limiting. This new insight allows you to view your life from a more appropriate and empowering perspective.

One of the foundations of transformational psychology is Abraham Maslow's theory of human needs. He believed that people are not merely controlled by their circumstances nor by their unconscious instinctual impulses. Maslow preferred to focus on our potential for creativity, believing that humans strive to express their capabilities fully, that they need this expression, and that fulfilling this creative need is the basis for happiness.

Whatever our astrological sign, our cultural conditioning, our numerological disposition, our parents' genes, our situation and circumstances, our education or lack of it -- we may consider these as limitations, or we may be more open-minded. The truth is that these factors really don't matter if we have a vision that inspires us enough and provides the energy we need to overcome any obstacles, so we can manifest our creation in the world we share.

For a vision or dream to be inspiring and energizing, it needs to be what we really want. Not something designed to please others or to fulfill their expectations.

The incredible thing here is that what we actually want, what is true to our highest aspirations, what is an expression of the true nature of our consciousness, is always an expression of unconditional love.

That is our highest, spiritual nature - the wonderful aspect that we each have as a human being. Yes, every single one of us, even our dotty neighbor and especially our rebellious child. And it is the challenge we each have, to rediscover and express our true self in this life. Only then will we die content.

© November 2002, Peter Shepherd, staff writer for OneSpirit Project

About the Author

   Peter Shepherd, this week's contributing author 

Peter Shepherd is a Transformational Psychologist, Supervisor of The Insight Project, and author of Transforming The Mind. Born in London in 1952, he spent most of his life in England before moving to France to be with his partner, Nicole Jérémie. Trained as a rational-emotive and transpersonal psychotherapist, Peter combines these techniques in his own system of transformational psychology, applied to personal growth rather than therapy. Peter's web site, Tools For Transformation, is dedicated to introducing the best available personal development resources to free us of the shackles of the past by re-awakening awareness of our true identity, and so being fully conscious in the present moment.

She first came to coastal Maine in her early forties, when her hair was deep brown and her shoulders stooped. She has remained here walking straight and tall for the past 22 years. She felt defeated when she first arrived. She had lost her only child to a fatal automobile accident, her breasts to cancer, and her husband four years later to another woman. She confided that she'd come here to die and had learned, instead, how to live.

ˇ   Virginia's Story by Tammie B. Fowles, excerpted from Birthquake: A Journey to Wholeness

On Failure...

You sit before me now, head down, while your face seeks shelter in your hands. "I failed," you confess, sounding hollow and broken. I attempt to comfort and reassure you. When you finally look up at me, I'm not seen, and not heard. You're so lost inside of your pain and disappointment that my words can't find you. I can't find you. We sit side by side, both feeling inadequate. Your hurting right now, feeling adrift and sick inside. In my silence, I try to communicate to you that you're not alone. I'm here. Right beside you. And I still believe in you.

I decide to write you a letter - one you can carry in your pocket to remind you of my caring. A note to read when you're more open to my message. I know it won't take your pain away or magically transform your beliefs, but maybe it can hold a seed - one which will eventually emerge from the rich and fertile ground in which I lovingly planted it.

So you failed. And this failure wounds you so profoundly that it's penetrated deep into your psyche. It may even have become an integral part of who you believe yourself to be. Today, you look into your mirror and see a failure. I look into your eyes and see the wisdom born of pain. And it hurts, this learning. I know. I know. I've felt its sting before. I've been thoroughly haunted by my own mistakes, miscalculations, and self-judgments. I've fallen too. Again and yet again.

Just like you, I forget during those moments when my folly is first discovered - what I know. What we both know. Defeat isn't the theme of our unique stories, it isn't what defines who we are, where we'll go or who we'll become. It only reminds us that we're not alone. That we share the legacy of all human-kind, that we all will fail from time to time. Each of us stumbles and is wounded in the fall. Failure, my dear, dear, friend, is a natural offshoot of growth. We churn in it, learn from it, and we become stronger as we struggle to recover from it.

In a commencement address delivered at Moorpark College in 1989, James D. Griffen remembered John Kennedy O'Toole, a young writer who won a Pulitzer Prize for his book, A Confederacy of Dunces. Imagine what it would have felt like to him to achieve this coveted award. How successful, how triumphant, how wonderful he would have felt. I say "would of" because we'll never know how he might have felt. He'll never know. We can only imagine on his behalf, because he never lived to claim his prize. After being rejected by seventeen publishers, he committed suicide. What a strange term, "to commit" suicide, when the act is above all else, a lack of commitment.

We must all hold fast in the darkness, for irregardless of the blackness which may surround us - light always eventually illuminates our path. Always...

Experience fully the pain of your failure. You must, bless you. I know you must. But when your body and soul grows weary of the sadness, the recriminations, the "what ifs" (and they will), accept the compensations, (however modest) that accompany your misfortune. Learn the lessons that follow behind them. They'll serve you well. You'll be wiser, stronger, and more prepared for the rest of your journey if you take them with you. Rest now if you need to. Grieve if you must. And when you're ready to collect them, let me know. I'll gladly help you gather them up.

So what's the moral of this story? Your story? It's not a story about loss, deficiency, and flaws. It's a story about lessons learned, overcoming, moving forward and onward, and most importantly - it is a story about hope.

Some of my most cherished tales have touched my heart and at the same time they have made me weep. And though I'm sad for you right now, I want you to know my friend, that I love your story still...

In faith,
A Fellow Traveler

© 2001 Tammie Byram Fowles, MSW, Ph.D.

About the Author

   Tammie Fowles, this week's guest author 

Dr. Tammie Fowles is a psychotherapist, author, consultant, and trainer currently residing in Columbia, South Carolina. She received her Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Connecticut and her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Southwest University. She is the author of BirthQuake: A Journey to Wholeness, the founder of SagePlace, and a homeschooling parent.

The only thing that stays the same in my life is change. For me, there will always be some sort of dissatisfaction about something. There will always be decisions to be made as a result of that dissatisfaction. And there will always be a need for responsible action by following through with appropriate choices, based on knowledge and experience. Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice leads to more change. You can adapt, or you can perish. Either way requires you to change. Get used to it.

ˇ   Michael Rawls

 Seeing Light or Finding Shadows?

It is easy to be negative about what is in my past, to look back with "if only" thinking. If only I had done this. If only I hadn't done that. I could spend hours mulling over what could have happened, or being unhappy about what did happen. Or I could more profitably spend those hours considering who I have become in light of those experiences, accepting the lessons from those times, growing from what I have learned and moving on with my life with new-found determination. Those lessons, after all, have moved me to higher levels of understanding, of living and of loving.

The relationships I entered, stayed in or ended, taught me necessary lessons, too. If I were to do the Sports Center Analysis on those lessons, I would emerge with an altogether different game plan, understanding the painful circumstances with strong insights about who I am and what I want. I would understand that the mistakes I made were necessary for my growth, that the frustrations, failures and stumbling attempts at progress were designed to make me stronger, not to wear me down. As steel is heated slowly and cooled rapidly in order to temper it's strength, so am I, at times, caused to walk through fire and deluged with the cold realities of everyday experience, in order to temper me and make me equal to the task. But simple strength of body or will, sufficient to withstand or survive an experience, is not enough.

Looking at my experience with negativity gives those problems I have faced an undeserved power over me. It leads to other types of negativity, such as dwelling on what is wrong with other people, my life, my work, my day, my relationships, myself, or my actions. I think I'm being realistic in doing this, but I'm usually trying to annihilate the experience, and attracting negative energy which sabotages and destroys. Negativity has a powerful life of its own. Wishing bad experiences away will not change my life. Agonizing over my powerlessness because of what happened will only weaken my resolve, and clutter up my thinking.

Seeing things as they were, accepting them as real, and taking something positive away from the experience helps me to hook into the positive power that my Plan has for me. Positivity also has a powerful life of its own. Ask yourself what is right about other people, your life, your work, your day, your relationships, yourself, your actions. Dwell upon the answers to these questions, for therein lies personal growth and positive change.

Be vigilant when it comes to negative thinking, and recognize it when it comes a-calling. Be actively and creatively involved in the quality of the day, thinking positively of others and yourself. And go bravely into the world, prepared to learn, to grow and to accept.

Put a positive spin on the day. Life will be transformed by the power and harmony of goodness.

Peace and Light, Michael

email: Michael@N-Spire.com - or, send your Let me know what you think of this article to me right now!

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