top of page

Why Sometimes SUCCESS Feels like a FAILURE

It was a pleasantly warm day and the trees surrounding the pool danced gently to the rhythm of the wind. The sun‘s rays fractalled the water‘s surface into a carpet of shimmering bubbles.

I lay on an inflatable mat and closed my eyes. Soaking in the beauty, the warmth, the rest. And the crowd of people—friends, colleagues and unfamiliar faces—huddling around the pool, applauding me, praising me.

Wait, what?!

This was the image my psyche invoked on one of the Hakomi trainings. We were guided in a meditation to imagine that we receive a prize. No matter what for, just to invoke that feeling of what it’s like to be rewarded and appreciated.

I was confused, at first, by this image. But its poignant truth penetrated the thick layers of my defences very quickly.

Yes love, you deserve to be rewarded for resting.

You are worthy of applause when you pause and float on the beauty of being part of this magnificent world.

You don’t have to be anyone special, to make excruciating efforts, to go out of your way to be praised by the people around you.

This wisdom takes a lot of undoing. For someone with a deep mother wound who has pushed herself through life with solid ideas of achieving (computer programmer, professional dancer, chef and coffeeshop owner, sought after research and evaluation business owner amongst others…), it took me a good two decades to undo the cage that had captured my true freedom to just Be.

All my coaching clients will recognise this—celebrate the small wins!

When a particle of a habit — being harsh on yourself, staying silent when you want to speak up, fearing to share what you need — crumbles, you had better celebrate if you want to undo the heavy layers of indoctrination that demand you measure your self-worth by doing.

The effort of chasing endeavours and goals can be so addictive and the fear of being perceived a failure or lazy for slowing down to rest so intimidating that when you finally reach a milestone you are so exhausted, so shocked or so wired for the next problem that your success is set up to be a failure.

“Tension,” writes the meditation teacher Gregory Kramer, “distorts the lens through which we see the world by framing everything in terms of that which makes us tense”.

So if your success is motivated by tension everything it entails will be framed by this tension as well.

One of the difficult successes to define is in therapy/coaching.

Naturally, we want to be completely free from whatever it is that pains us. Most often what people don’t know or find it hard to digest is that this goal might be a life-time process.

And the irony is that we go to therapy thinking we’ll get better but we come back feeling needy, angry, sad or confused.

At least at first. Then, as the card-tower of identity gets reshuffled and all the neglected emotions and trapped needs are ventilated some of those old, grumpy habits loosen their footing and you begin to find a new form of being. Closer, mush closer, to where you want to be.

Success is freedom.

Each time you gain a greater degree of freedom to Be

you have experienced an unconditional success.

Here are some questions to reflect on:

Can you imagine pursuing success without tension? And if it’s hard, what stands in the way?

What would your life look like if you defined all your successes as freedom?



Shelly helps women who feel stuck in relationships or their vocational life because their needs are downplayed and want to be a fearless, unapologetic authentic expression of themselves.

Learn more about Life Alignment


More for you...


cover image.png
bottom of page