top of page

No success.

Malcolm X said: "If you have no critics, you'll likely have no success."

I don't know about you, but I'm a real "people pleaser" from a way back. I honestly don't know where this comes from, but I remember even in grammar school that I wanted everybody to like me. Luckily, I was pretty likeable (if I do say so myself!) and always had a lot of friends.

It could go back to my mother being agorophobic and always feeling like her needs came before mine. Years ago, when I was in Machu Picchu on a spiritual retreat, I had this weird experience. I lost my voice and knew in my gut that it wasn't a health issue but a psychological one. I asked Edemir (the spiritual healer and teacher who was facilitating our trip) if he could help me identify why I couldn't speak a word out loud. He said, in his imitable way, "You'll have to figure this one out for yourself." I wasn't pleased but went to bed that night and prayed to the Apu (the mountain spirits in the Andes) to inspire me to deal with this laryngitis.

That night I had five dreams about my mother and they were all horrible reflections on her. Now, I loved my mother very much - she was such a gem! - but when I got up and journaled for a few hours, I had a lost memory that on my ninth birthday we had planned a trip to New York City for a special family celebration. We were going to experience an automat; go up in the Empire State Building; and have tea at the Algonquin Club. Well, she had a full-blown panic attack in the Lincoln Tunnel, driving into the City from New Jersey. So we had to turn around and go home.

Now, I always sympathized with my mother's affliction, so instead of expressing my disappointment (and being a bonafide "people pleaser" even in the fourth grade!) I stuffed my feelings and said it was ok and expressed concern for her. I didn't feel free to feel my feelings and had stuffed them for all those years. So I forgave my mother and myself that morning in Peru and promptly got my voice back!

Really a great lesson in how the unconscious can even affect our health. Also, that no one else can figure out the complexity of our minds but ourselves.

There's an expression in the 12-Step Programs that goes: "What other people think of you is none of your business." I am truly getting better at affirming this over time, but it's still a struggle both at work and in my personal relationships because old habits of wanting every body to like me die hard. Hey, next time I mourn someone not liking me or being nice to me, I'm going to try to remember Helen Keller's wonderful statement: "So much has been given to me; I have no time to ponder over that which I've been denied." If SHE could do it, I certainly can.

bottom of page