Sabotaging Success by Mary Cook, M.A., R.A.S.

This article was originally published by OmTimes, an on line magazine in their October 2010 issue and is reprinted here by express permission of Mary Cook. Thanks Mary!

Typical definitions of sucess include having a loving partner, financial wealth, and a thriving career. These are admirable goals and there is nothing inherently wrong with them. The problem lies in the false belief that through obtaining them, we will feel happy and fulfilled. Furthermore, we want our fantasy of these goals, and the desired emotion, to manifest permanently.

Not only are we aware of countless people that have achieved far more than the above goals, yet remained unhappy and unfulfilled, we have personally experienced this as well. After a brief exhilaration, we typically realize that we have failed to reach a new positive emotional plateau. We might feel disappointed that our goals did not measure up to our fantasy of them. Our achievements may require unwanted ongoing maintenance, responsibilities, learning or growth on our part to sustain them. Or they may present us with a whole new set of problems. If they indeed meet our highest expectations, then we fear changes, diminishment or loss of what we’ve acquired. And yet, despite the lack of lasting happiness and fulfillment, we set new goals for success, with the same delusion that they will be our emotional deliverance.

When our attention is focused on wanting something different from what we now have, we will fail to arrive anywhere that gives us an improved emotional and mental state. In fact, the new places, faces and outward circumstances have the uncanny ability to stimulate the same old internal themes, thought and feelings from which we tried to escape.

We have the idea that success resides in the future, yet the only power we have is within the present moment. And although the standards for success consistently and persistently rise above wherever we are now, we fail to question our primary assumptions. Instead, we continue to reinforce negative and stressful feelings of insufficiency. Thus we end up sabotaging true success and happiness.

Primary personal beliefs begin in childhood, in circumstances where our well being is in the hands of other people and external events. The ideas that we are not “enough” and we do not have “enough,” and we are dependent upon the external world to correct this, are deeply embedded in our minds and behavior. The more stressful our childhood is, the more tightly we hang onto fear based beliefs and protective defense mechanisms.

When life expands and deepens, instead of amending our earlier assumptions, we generally distort new information or fail to apply it to our personal circumstances. Thus it is the energy of past fears of inferiority and insufficiency from our childhood dependent state, which propels us toward achievements with false hope. The motivating energy of a goal will create an achievement that holds the same energy. So we are in a cycle of sabotage.

We must transcend ordinary thinking in order to resolve the problems created by ordinary thinking. We believe that external factors will bring us happiness and fulfillment. We think that the more intensely and frequently we yearn for these external factors, the more quickly they manifest. We assume that we do not have to change ourselves, in order to attract desired external change. We expect that happiness and fulfillment will be permanent upon the achievement of future goals. When these beliefs are proven wrong time and time again, we pursure them even harder. When confronted that we have these false beliefs, we deny it while our behavior confirms it.

True success is internal. True success is right now. True success is not dependent upon external factors. True success changes into many forms. True success is meeting outward circumstances with the healthiest, most positive response. True success is recognizing that the point of life is learning and growth, not complacency, or stagnation.

Happiness and fulfillment exist within our higher consciousness. Our soul shines light on perceived darkness, and shows us external abundance for perceived deprivation. We must notice and value our own feeling of happiness whenever it arises. We must become aware of the places in our life where we feel fulfilled. External factors that stimulate these feelings are reminding us of the treasure that is always within us. There is no outward success to capture, which will insure our happiness and fulfillment. When we practice experiencing the positive feelings that we associate with our desired goals, we enter higher consciousness. When we take realistic actions that are in sync with these positive feelings, we enter higher consciousness. This is where true success without sabotage exists.

Mary Cook is the author of “Grace Lost and Found: From Addictions and Compulsions to Satisfaction and Serenity,” available from Barnes and Nobles bookstores,, etc. She has 34 years of clinical practice and 29 years of university teaching experience. She is a national speaker and has a private practice in San Pedro, CA. Mary is available for telephone and office counseling, guided meditation, speaking engagements, and in-service training. Contact her at and see her website for further information