A few years ago, I hit a wall. I was spiritually, physically, and emotionally bankrupt. I had spent the better part of the last three years teaching, learning, and stretching myself in ways I thought would be used for the greater good. My dream was to create an inclusive learning environment for young students of every ability. I had a dream and a desire, but in the process of the push, of the driving and striving, I lost my footing. If I am completely honest, I abandoned myself for the “greater good,” because my self-worth and my ego had become attached to the productivity and outward success of the educational program. When I was deep in it, I didn’t know that I was manipulating and deceiving myself. It wasn’t the classroom or the curriculum I built or my initial reasons for taking it on. It was the way I assigned my worth to its success (or failure).
At the end of the school year, I fell apart. As I took the summer off to regroup, I saw a pattern emerge. I had been doing the same thing, over and over again, expecting different results. I felt utterly defeated. I felt I like I had failed, but in truth, failure ran deeper than a feeling. It had seeped into the marrow of my being. Over the summer, I chose to disconnect. I let go of obligations and responsibilities. It was clear to me; I had forgotten who I was. I made a commitment to reconnect with my true Self. I became quiet, wrote, listened, and explored nature. I questioned and became curious without judgment. In the process of looking inward, I unearthed my beliefs. The excavation was brutal and uncomfortable and left me with more questions than I had before.
What was revealed to me on the pages of my journal and in the hours spent in my therapist’s office, was the idea I had around personal worth. In a vivid childhood memory, I saw the origin. It was illustrated in cleaning my grandparent’s home during summer break when I was young. My worth was a measurement of my productivity. As a child, I was unaware and often undershot the elusive bar of white-picket perfectionism, or what was expected from me while I was in their care. They had a formula for success, a way to measure a person’s worthiness, and it was determined by external factors. This systematic belief trickled down from generation to generation. Let me be clear, this is not a battle cry for blaming my ancestors or parents. It was important information to gather and understand in my pathway towards changing an outdated belief structure.
Awareness can be a two-edged sword. At times, I was frustrated with myself when I repeated a pattern. Gratefully, I saw this early on and was able to shift from disapproving self-talk to soothing, kind words. This was an energetic game-changer. I was breaking the cycle from perfection and productivity to owning my self-worth authentically. By peeling away the mask of being super-human, I had nothing to hide behind. Having an understanding of how behavioral belief systems trickle down through families, society, and our collective history, gave me a wider lens. It enabled me to tap into a place of compassion, not only for myself but for those who came before me.
Today, being in the flow of personal prosperity requires internal awareness. Perfection is not part of this agreement I have with myself, instead, I place practice over perfection and acknowledge my success is found in the intentions I create; my feelings of joy, love, and connection. Whenever I am able to be open to personal growth, accessing compassion for myself and others, I am successful. The moments I see myself as beautiful, worthy, and of value are an expression of personal prosperity. I am the creator of my own reality. I decide what success looks like for me. My daily intention is to live with gratitude and walk in grace. To know abundance and have reverence for the mundane. The goal is to become aligned with my definition of success. To move through the day satisfied and with a feeling of inner peace.
Personal prosperity is a choice. I oversee my own prosperity and success. Most days this is completely liberating, but some days it’s terrifying. On fearful days, I am reminded that contrast is part of the human experience. Fear is information. When self-love gains traction and I rise out of the dark, it fuels my fire and often gives me direction and clarity. Each one of us has the power to identify success, what it feels like, and how to manifest it. Personal prosperity begins within. By answering the call, aligning with joy and pure satisfaction, you will find yourself living a prosperous life. I invite you to fall apart, to disconnect from your television and social media, the collective noise of the world and go inside. Decide and define success. It’s your birthright and frankly, the only definition that matters.
Nicole Hendrick Donovan is an author, reflective storyteller, and speaker who offers personal essays, memoirs, and workshops as a container for others to seek their inner wisdom and truth. Her memoir, A Life Suspended: A Mother and Son’s Story of Autism, Extinction Bursts, and Living a Resilient Life, brings the reader into the home and heart of a family in crisis. Donovan’s vulnerable storytelling cultivates compassion and understanding, opening a door where acceptance and empathy expand. Nicole is a contributing writer to The Mighty, Autism Parenting Magazine, Finding Cooper’s Voice, and Herself360. As an extension of her offerings, she is the owner of Rose Ray Healing Arts and curator of her signature Rose Ray Surrender Spray. You can connect with Nicole on Facebook and Instagram @nhdwrites, as well as nhdwrites.com