How to get out of the success/failure mindset

So I'm trying to leave behind some old family values that are just useless and unhelpful.

One of the values I was raised with was the success/failure mindset and I find that society really reinforces that.

At age 43, I'm so sick of it.

But how do you move beyond it?

What is the paradigm that isn't success/failure?

I mean, even if I find "personal/individual" definitions of success and failure... I'm still buying into it.

I'm still judging everything I do with a thumbs up/ thumbs down approach.

I dunno if it's totally possible to let go of that.

Cos how else would I define what my goals are each day and whether I've met them or not.

Or is that part of it too? :confused:

I can *feel* that the success/failure mindset it toxic.

I just can't grasp what to replace it with or how to move beyond it?

Adding this link cos I think it contains some clues:

False Dichotomy of Success

I'm going to also add two examples, of what I find difficult about the success/ failure mindset.

For example, say you invest heaps in your career and you have a lot of success. Not only that other people think you are successful, but you've also achieved your own goals and feel satisfied with them. But then... You realise that you neglected your marriage and your children and your personal life to get career success. So, suddenly you realise you failed. So what is it? Success or failure? Or both? I think the different levels and lenses that you can look at life through, then the success/failure dichotomy doesn't really make sense.

Another example is an artist or writer... Say you write a book that becomes a best-seller... Success, right? But what if it became a best-seller because you wrote it according to mass market tastes? That means you sold out, right? So you failed. Or if you chose the other path and stayed true to your artistic vision but no one bought your book and you were a starving artist... Then you were a failure, right? Like Vincent Van Gogh... People hated his art while he was alive and thought he was crazy and useless and he died poor and destitute. So in his lifetime he was a failure? And now his paintings sell for countless millions and he's famous and adored. So a success now, posthumously?

That's the level I don't get the success/failure mindset on.
 
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Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
Tell me if you find out? My therapist says I’m binary when I try and talk about it. It becomes more of a philosophical debate, which I don’t mind, but you never get to the end of it. It never resolves. I feel like I spent my whole life on this because it’s in everything. The Maharaj says “don’t worry about it you might as well be a door man”, which to them is the lowest position imaginable. You get what you get. It’s a good trick I’ve just never been able to pull it off. Good post.
 

bird_on_a_wire

MyPTSD Pro
Yes, there is a way, if you have the energy and strength. Supposedly it takes only 2 to 3 hours, but I think the last part needs help of another ideally.

You start by writing down the belief (one at a time). Then you use socratic questioning. From each write down all negative thoughts that stem from it. Then identify all cognitive distortions that apply and the negative thoughts that follow.Then stop, and find a positive thing that it shows about yourself. Then, ask yourself if you would want to remove both what it says negatively and positively. If you don't want to remove all of what it says positively, then set how much you want it dialed back to. Then (I think it helps to have another person help here), talk back to your negative inner critic with role reversals (first be yourself, then your critic). Write down any new understandings you have.

So a totally hypothetical example could be:

say you invest heaps in your career and you have a lot of success. Not only that other people think you are successful, but you've also achieved your own goals and feel satisfied with them. But then... You realise that you neglected your marriage and your children and your personal life to get career success. So, suddenly you realize you failed. So what is it? Success or failure? Or both?

-'So what is it? Success or failure? Or both?'
SQ: What defines success for you?
-What qualities do you expect?
-Is it perfection?
- Is perfection realistic?
-Do you think it involves sacrifice?
-What regrets do you have?
-Do you expect to feel differently without those regrets?
-Would you have other regrets? (etc etc- anything that sprouts)

Then examples of negative thoughts might be:

- I can only succeed or fail
- I will always fail
-No matter how hard I try I am a failure
-No matter what I do I will always be a failure
- there is no way to not be a failure to someone, and therefore myself
- I feel like a failure (etc etc)

Which could be all or nothing thinking; fortune telling; negative attribution; emotional reasoning (I feel like a failure, therefore I am a failure), (etc etc.)

Now, what does it show of good traits?
- You want to succeed, so you are ambitious and persistent. You have become successful, so you work hard and persevere. You care about relationships to your loved ones, that is important to you. Do you value them? Sounds like it. You care you haven't been present sufficiently; that shows you are kind, giving and aware, and care about others. In fact, being successful may help you to be a better provider, which helps the family. But, maybe it is time you invested more in the people you love. Maybe you should change your behaviour to do so. Would you like to? Etc etc.

Now if your' goal is to keep those qualities (and others), what do you want the thought's impact to dial back to/ affect you? Say you originally said it bothers you 80% (or the regret, etc- whatever emotion- is 80%), you choose 10% goal.

Now, the hard part, be your own IC (or someone else does). I think it's easier if someone else does because they might notice what is more subconscious than you do (yet), since really it likely has little to do with success or failure, that is the surface. So the person/ yourself being the IC might say, ~'Sophie, you can't ever succeed, whatever you choose will be a failure'. And you might say, 'No, I have been a success in many things, and I will both succeed and fail in the future'. And the IC 'person' might say, 'But it doesn't matter, because iit's either succeed or fail, period'. And 'you' might say, 'No that is bl-&-wh thinking, and BS, because it is because I'm so caring that I do care how it affects all of my life'. And your IC may say, 'No, you're a failure and won't ever amount to anything, look at how useless it is to try'. And you might say, 'No, in my FOO I could never reach a point where I was good enough, and felt unloved and deficient'. And your IC might say, 'Well, your FOO were right, you are a failure'. And you might say, "You are right, sometimes I feel like that, but no, my FOO did not know how to express love or affection outside of accomplishments, or feel good about themselves without putting others down. And now I realize that was a distorted way of viewing the world and relationships, and I'm choosing not to buy in to that anymore. I can see there are many sides to what defines success or failure, but what is more important is why I even have been putting so much thought on it in the first place, because these are just distorted
old family values
, and my family knew no other way. Now I do'.

And then you write down, who won, big or huge, what do I feel now in %, and lather, rinse, repeat.

You've got to use your own thoughts/ words/ beliefs of course. Hope it helps :hug: .

ETA, I forgot also, some of talking back to the IC (and cognitive distortions) for example could include discounting the positive etc. So the 'other person' (or yourself) could say, 'That is not true, my family appreciates what I do and has said how proud they are of me, and it's inspired my children to try to form and reach goals too'. And/ or 'there are many ways I do give to my family and show and tell them I love them, and I am a wonderful mom in (these) ways', etc. Which is why I think it probably helps if it's another person because, well, we can't think of things easily that we never think of, or feel entitled to self-assign, or never cross our mind.
 
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TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
So I'm trying to leave behind some old family values that are just useless and unhelpful.

One of the values I was raised with was the success/failure mindset and I find that society really reinforces that.

At age 43, I'm so sick of it.

But how do you move beyond it?

What is the paradigm that isn't success/failure?

I mean, even if I find "personal/individual" definitions of success and failure... I'm still buying into it.

I'm still judging everything I do with a thumbs up/ thumbs down approach.

I dunno if it's totally possible to let go of that.

Cos how else would I define what my goals are each day and whether I've met them or not.

Or is that part of it too? :confused:

I can *feel* that the success/failure mindset it toxic.

I just can't grasp what to replace it with or how to move beyond it?

Adding this link cos I think it contains some clues:

False Dichotomy of Success

I'm going to also add two examples, of what I find difficult about the success/ failure mindset.

For example, say you invest heaps in your career and you have a lot of success. Not only that other people think you are successful, but you've also achieved your own goals and feel satisfied with them. But then... You realise that you neglected your marriage and your children and your personal life to get career success. So, suddenly you realise you failed. So what is it? Success or failure? Or both? I think the different levels and lenses that you can look at life through, then the success/failure dichotomy doesn't really make sense.

Another example is an artist or writer... Say you write a book that becomes a best-seller... Success, right? But what if it became a best-seller because you wrote it according to mass market tastes? That means you sold out, right? So you failed. Or if you chose the other path and stayed true to your artistic vision but no one bought your book and you were a starving artist... Then you were a failure, right? Like Vincent Van Gogh... People hated his art while he was alive and thought he was crazy and useless and he died poor and destitute. So in his lifetime he was a failure? And now his paintings sell for countless millions and he's famous and adored. So a success now, posthumously?

That's the level I don't get the success/failure mindset on.

So, I read this twice......and what's the point? People set goals, they have to finish the goal to know whether they were a success or failure.....When we set goals....lots of times life gets in the way.....were we a failure if we couldn't finish....I say no, life got in the way.....


I read your concept of success as a black and white concept.....but I don't believe it is......

I was a teacher for special needs kids most of my life. I saw successes in kids (we'll call success gray to white spectrum) in even the smallest accomplishments...because success in my definition is moving in the right direction.....even if only in small increments......you are still moving forward and success may not be finite or time sensitive.....it may be a long term thing. Success for people with PTSD might be reducing flashbacks-not eliminating them totally, coping in public.....not feeling happy in public, or just signing up for this
forum and reading responses-but not posting but each took effort and had outcome. Everyone's concept of success is different....Sometimes there are multiple minute mini-goals.....before getting to the end goal.....sometimes just moving forward is enough....and considered a success over a very long period of time.

Failure happens less frequently, if you believe in a way of thinking that you are always working towards improving or moving in the right direction and working in the gray to white spectrum.......and the right direction consists of lots more gray than white times....White is when you actualize the success.....have an AHA moment and realize it.

I challenge you to look at your concept of success/failure more liberally like you would a color spectrum of black to gray to white.....maybe with less rigidity...??? @insignificant I think has a good idea of looking at your cognitive distortions regarding failure. There is a thread on cognitive distortions....go read through those....I found that super helpful in challenging black and white thinking.
 

Mach123

MyPTSD Pro
This is interesting so I hope you don’t mind if I but in.

You said rigidity and black and white thinking we’re the problem or part of it. My therapist says this. My thinking is black and white and I’m rigid.

I understand the concepts completely on an intellectual level. I just can’t deal with it at all though lol!

I can implement a sliding scale. That was successful, that was a failure. Partially both. Now I’m rationalizing. Is the glass half empty?

Like I said there isn’t a resolve. Just how am I going to make myself feel better. We are heading in the right direction, but do we have to drive forever? Can’t we ever get there?
 

TruthSeeker

MyPTSD Pro
It's my guess that one's life is like a spectrum....made up of many efforts over time, some successes, some half hearted attempts, some whole hearted tries, and some failures....it's not an all or nothing concept-it's not black and white for sure.

So, when we are sitting on our porch (or wherever we are) or in our rocker, just thinking back.....who will you want to be?

The negative more black and white thinker whose stuck in a rigid mindset, and often the focus is failure (failure in this sense is a finite concept). In this mindset, you might be keen to find the negative or failures.....and because the mindset is negative, one's vision is blurred/skewed......and by focusing on negativity and failure.....one misses out on appreciating the positive that has been in their life.....

or are you going to be......

The person who looks for the good in people, places, and things....first, choosing to live and actively make positive memories all the while acknowledging the the past for what it was....but not wasting a lifetime bitching about it.....but instead, actively looks for the good and positive in life.........believing this is a much happier and more fulfilled way to live..... and when you're old, you recall more of the good in life .......
 

bird_on_a_wire

MyPTSD Pro
I think it's hard to challenge cognitive distortions and believe, without going through the long process above. Because sometimes we 'know' those things, that we are supposed to think and believe in response. But still get no where. It's easy to identify cog distortions, not so easy to believe/ trust.
 

Movingforward10

MyPTSD Pro
Can't we be/have all of them? And the inbetweens? In everything?
Or is life only success if you excel at everything, every day, in every way? Isn't that totally and utterly impossible?

For example: I would say that today, for me, was a successful day. Because I did a few positive things (didn't disassociate in therapy, had a shift of mindset, had a successful outcome to a disagreement/misunderstanding with my partner, and got some good feedback at work). However, today also consisted of "failures" (had a disagreement with my partner, had a cry, had a panic, had intense feelings/triggers, didn't do all the things I needed to at work so will have to work harder tomorrow). So really a mixed day of events and emotions. But I'm logging it as a good day. As, compared to recent past, it's been soooo much better.

So, surely, all that matters is how you see it, and how you feel, and everything is relative?
And it's all meaningless anyways? As one person's success is another person's failure!
 
Hi all - thank you for your ideas!

I love your Socratic Questioning idea @insignificant

When I remember to :rolleyes: I do a similar exercise for difficult topics like these - it's called DBT Wise Mind. Have you heard of it?

It's a really cool exercise (you can google it or do a forum search if you want) but basically it's about getting your rational brain and your emotional brain to talk to each other in a dialogue kind of like the Socratic Dialogue you suggest. I guess it's a bit less of a dialogue, cos each part of the brain just gets to say whatever it wants and the other part of the brain responds however it wants. It's important to treat both sides of the brain as equally valid. And the theory is that as those two halves of your brain start "hearing" each other and working together... what you get is a wise mind :)

Since I know this Wise Mind technique well and am really comfortable with it, I think I'll do that version but I think it's probably about 80% overlap with the Socratic Dialogue technique you suggested... Similar approach, similar results, I think.

So, after writing this post yesterday, I started googling success/failure to get some random input to make my brain think about it.

And it took a while, but I think I finally figured out what bugs me about it.

I dunno if I can explain it properly tho!

It's got to do with early childhood attachment trauma, which is something I'm currently working on a lot.

I've found that in families where there is attachment trauma and no proper emotional bonding, success and failure are really big, important topics. Because love is conditional in these families, children get love when they are "successful" and no love when they "fail". So this topic of success/failure starts to become really fraught.

And instead, in relationships that I've experienced that are emotionally bonded, where love is unconditional, success and failure become close to irrelevant. It's just not part of the relationship... It just doesn't really matter... Success and failure become more like the weather - sometimes it's sunny and sometimes it rains - both are part of life and they come and go. And whether you succeed or fail, it doesn't change who you are as a person and it doesn't change the love you are given.

That's the core issue regarding success and failure for me.
 
Thanks @Movingforward10 :)

I've found that in families where there is attachment trauma and no proper emotional bonding, success and failure are really big, important topics. Because love is conditional in these families, children get love when they are "successful" and no love when they "fail". So this topic of success/failure starts to become really fraught.

I wanted to add that as a child who grew up in a family like that, I have internalised these messages. So not only am I very sensitive to outside criticism for failure or praise for success, but I do it to myself too, internally. "Yay Sophy! Well done! You rock!" if I do something well and "Ugh, you suck Sophy! Why do you always mess stuff up!" when I fail at something.

So that means my self-acceptance is conditional, based on the conditional model I learned as a child.

I think if I can get my inner dialogue around success and failure to be non-conditional, then I'll feel far more immune to the ups and downs of success and failure.

Because contrary to what many of us like to believe, success and failure isn't something we can simply "achieve".
Often success and failure are dependent on external things that are good luck/ bad luck.

If I have trouble learning to read, because I'm dyslexic, then that's bad luck.
If I have a teacher that explains reading to me well and I excell at it, that's good luck.
If I have a teacher whose teaching style doesn't suit my learning style at all and therefore I don't do well, that's bad luck.

In Western socities, we love to buy into the myth that success and failure is about what we do right and what we do wrong.

Rich people like to kid themselves that they're rich because they did everything right and they deserve it.
Whereas, they're usually rich because they inherited money or had such a good start in life bought for them at good schools and good universities.

And equally, it's popular to blame poor people for their lack of success, assuming they must've "done something" to be afflicted by poverty.
Sure, a few people become rich by really hard work, and a few people are poor because they made poor choices they didn't need to make.

But the overwhelming majority of people are rich or poor by lucky or unlucky circumstances, not because they are responsible for their success or failure.
 

Ronin

MyPTSD Pro
You could look at wants, things you appreciate, things you desire in your life...

More hedonism, less judgment.

And look at *you* as a measuring stick. As long as others and what they are or are not doing are the standard? There will always be someone to who you can compare, cannot compare, and feel like crap.

Plus... Let go of comparing - Look at traits & experiences you want to bring into your life and learn, leave the rest to the rest.

Take what you don't know as Jooys, learning :sneaky: and what you can't do as Hell yeah, someone can do it faster and damn well :woot:. Along with turning 'not good enough' on its ear with aall the little ways what you do, IS amazing. Unique. Yours. Not replicable by anyone else.

First thoughts / 2c.
 
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