The S-Word

Universe Designs

The Universe designs the perfect circumstances to support your success.

If the first thing that jumps to your mind when you read this assertion is your most recent flop, read on. And keep in mind the corollary: “If at first you don’t succeed, there’s more to the story.”

I’ve decided to jump into the topic of success, because it is such a loaded one for me, and, I suspect, others. Even the word is distasteful and alarming, as in gets my cortisol levels up. It can’t be success I’m talking about, can it? That illusive yet over-worked topic that people either pay thousands to master or give themselves energetic whiplash pretending they don’t care about?

I thought I didn’t care. Until I learned about someone else’s success. Someone in my own field of touchy-feely personal growth and healing. Someone I did not regard as a writer. Someone who seemed to just jump in and voila! Success! Even though I understand the mechanics and manipulation that go with claiming bestseller status on Amazon, I was still stung by her book’s success. 

Even though, even though, even though. I still felt humiliated, hopeless and terrible. As in terror. Yes, I would fail. It’s written in the stars. I am hopeless. It will never happen for me.

Some good news: I knew what to do. I wrote down, in excruciatingly detailed and honest language everything that was going on in that mind of mine, all the reasons why I was a failure, all the reasons why being a failure meant I was also useless as a person, all the reasons why being a useless person was who I always had been and always would be.

Then I turned them around into affirmations. Well, not right then. First I spent at least an entire summer’s day in Maine (which means I wasted the equivalent of a week anywhere else) feeling as though I were dying, trying to convince my partner that I was dying, and losing all interest in any of the things I usually enjoy. Yes, it was that bad.

My depression lasted for a couple of weeks. I started calling it what it was, and I started talking about it in safe places. I started to ask myself why I cared so much what happened for someone else. And most importantly, I started to ask why I wanted what I wanted, and how did I define success.

The most obvious lesson gleaned from my plunge is that my ideas of success were based, at least partly, on competing with and coming out ahead of others, and on getting validated and legitimized by others’ recognition of my work. I also had success tied in with self-esteem and worthiness. As in, I had to prove that I deserved to exist, and the way that I would prove that would be to become a bestselling author.

My depression actually helped me by bringing these beliefs to the surface where I could see, examine and question them. No wonder I had been holding my fledging business at bay and felt estranged from its heart and soul. I didn’t actually have a handle on its heart and soul. I was in it for the wrong reasons. Yet I knew that I was called to reach beyond writing just for myself. I knew I had something of value to share.

My Mastermind group helped, my friends in similar fledging endeavors helped. They helped mostly by doing an enormous amount of listening as I talked myself through the process of discovering what mattered most to me as a writer of healing works.

Eventually, I sat down with my trusty yellow legal pad and took each one of those damning beliefs and turned them into affirmations, and from there developed a new list of Soul Messages, all related to the topic of success.

I also wrote down some guidelines for how to turn affirmations into Soul Messages, essentially turning I-messages into ah-messages by using the word “you,” as if someone were telling you about yourself and about life, as they do when we are young sponges absorbing everything the big people tell us.

I still don’t like the word success, and I’m open to suggestions. I don’t like it because anyone like me, who has all this emotional charge around the concept, will look the other way when they see the word, and these are the very people who might benefit from the messages. Maybe I need to find words that a child might use in talking about success. Maybe the entire concept is something we only develop as part of a mindset we adopt because we think we have to, in order to be legitimate adults.

I don’t know. You tell me: Is success a valid topic for the Soul Messages lady?

Love you lots,


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0 thoughts on “The S-Word

  1. “I thought I didn’t care. Until I learned about someone else’s success… Someone who seemed to just jump in and voila! Success!”

    Yep, that’s the worst. Even worse when you give them their start and clear the rocks out of their path. All you can do is work harder! So I do…

    1. Yes, that is hard. But isn’t it so much easier to stay motivated when you’re doing it for yourself regardless of what’s happening for someone else? Oh, and humor helps, too, right Dan?

  2. Hi Phyllis, First of all, I love this. Second of all, I have decided that being an artist is a courageous act and success for me is to keep creating whether or not the world values what I do with money. Your Soul Messages are a gift to the world and so are you!

    1. Thanks, Amy, I think I need your sentiments plastered across my bathroom mirror, computer screen, etc. Don’t you think we take for granted what comes naturally to us and tend to discount the courage it takes to do it anyway? Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! Phyllis

  3. Well this snapped me out of a pity party! And for that, a very huge heart-felt thanks. I’m finding incredible value in your posts Phyllis. Success for me is simply ‘doing’ the energy I’ve been given and trusting I’ll find the bread crumbs leading to where that energy wants me to go. We all have magic to share, in our own words, in what we create, in our own time. Me thinks your words have always been your ‘success’. You have a certain magic in stringing words together that cause me to pause, laugh, and consider how lucky I am in finding your blog. So there….


    1. Hi Donna, Thank you so much for your kind words. I love your description of following the energy. It’s such a hard thing to put into words, but, yes, that’s my process, too. I certainly feel heartened by your feedback to keep on stringing words together and putting them out there for others. All the best to you, Phyllis

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