I used to feel like I’d never be successful, like I’d never measure up to the accomplishments of the people around me. Right after I first began coaching and speaking, I spent much of my daily life comparing myself to people I considered successful. And I never measured up. I would go on website after website, feeling my heart sink as I wondered: “How will I ever be able to do this? How can I ever get people to listen to what I am saying? What if I will always be a nobody? What if no one cares? What if I’m not good enough?”
The shame was overwhelming and so was the anxiety. After I quit my day job, it became even worse. I had left my career of study—a field I had excelled in academically and professionally—to pursue a passion that left me feeling inadequate and insignificant.
I was too young, too inexperienced, too unguarded, too unqualified. I wasn’t slick enough, sexy enough, or well-dressed enough. I was just me. And, for a while there, that was a painful reality. I fought these demons in my head secretly, as I tried to share a message of love. I fought with my constant sense of inadequacy as a coach, as an author, as a people-helper.
Back then, I didn’t see that I was judging my work the same way I once judged my body. I thought I’d made huge leaps in my self-love journey. And I had. But I wasn’t done learning yet.
Close to a year ago, I had an epiphany. I was invited to come on television, my first ever appearance on TV, to talk about my story and The Love Mindset. I wrote about my experiences at the time. For now, I will just summarize the story for you very simply: I was terrified, then I had an epiphany.
It was the kind of epiphany that felt good, but it didn’t hit me hard. Some epiphanies make your eyes light up, and you know that they’re changing your entire life. No, this wasn’t like that. This was the kind of epiphany that feels nice, but you don’t realize it’s life-changing until you look back and see that everything is different.
That epiphany was this: this is not about me. It’s about the people I help. My job is not to be successful. My job is to serve. That is how I succeed.
That little epiphany cleansed all the work-related anxiety out of my mind, day by day, as I reoriented my sense of purpose in the world.
About two weeks later, I held a Meetup, and there was this sense of ease I’d never felt before, like going out to tea with a good friend—no fear, just warmth. Then, I went on the radio and got incredibly excited in those moments before I went on, imagining all the people listening and having transformations induced by what I was about to share. Then, I brought this joy to my one-on-one work and, suddenly, there we were laughing, crying, and changing together.
No more “What will they think?” or “How will I ever become successful enough?” or “How do I get people to listen to what I say?” or “Am I saying the right things?” No more.
Just: “How can I help? How can I serve?” Freedom. It was like I had a new sense of direction, a new compass within me that pointed, always, to love. This was my duty, my purpose, my life: to give, to help, to serve.
I’d undergone a revolution, a silent one. There was no background music or fireworks. Just growth and ease. Every day, I felt lighter as I shed my inadequate self-image and my self-sabotaging, self-judging rituals.
I stopped checking out the websites of other coaches and authors, feeling horrible about my work, comparing myself. I stopped obsessively checking my Alexa rank and my Amazon author rank. I stopped feeling like I was never going to get my message out there. I stopped feeling dwarfed by the accomplishments of others who were teaching what I was teaching. I stopped feeling like I had to earn the right to speak.
Instead, I just spoke. Freedom.
Looking back, I had no idea how much suffering I was creating by comparing myself to others, by always evaluating myself, by making it about me and my success and my message. I didn’t realize how selfish I was being. There is a freedom to “we.” There is salvation in service.
When I was wrapped up in addiction and eating disorders, I was selfish. My suffering made me selfish, and my selfishness made me suffer. Yes, I was traumatized. Yes, I’d been hurt. But I cared for no one except myself. People only meant as much to me as the emotions they could produce in me. I saw no one deeply, especially not myself, and I never, ever had enough of anything.
I made myself suffer with this constant need I felt to preserve myself. I needed to preserve myself financially and emotionally and physically. I needed to fix myself and keep myself whole. I needed to keep making my inadequate self good enough.
How exhausting. I think what is truly rewarding about serving the world is this: by giving my time, money, love, sweat, blood, patience, attention, by giving it every day as much as I can, I presuppose that there is more than enough to go around. Simply by giving, I prove to myself that I have enough. That I am enough.
When I approach my work and my life from this awareness, I realize that I am deeply connected with everything and everyone around me. That is who I am. When I give to people, I give to myself. When I give to myself, I give to people. There is no boundary between us when it comes to love. To love me and to love you is the same. It is all an act of unconditional service.
To compare is to separate. To compare is to assume that you are different. To feel inadequate in someone’s presence is to put them into another category from yourself. And that is all a big illusion.
Of course, on some level, we are all unique and different. But when it comes to worthiness, strength, beauty, power, and love—we are all the same. No one is inadequate. Everyone is deserving. In that, we are equal.
We are all equal storehouses of human potential, waiting to be unlocked by universal, unconditional love. And you can spend a whole lifetime unlocking those doors. And that will be a life well lived. That is true success. So, that is what it comes down to. There’s nothing to prove, and there’s lots to do. My work, your work, our work is to serve love by helping ourselves and helping others. Our work is never done.
Mahatma Gandhi said: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
So let us go and get lost together. One pair of sparkling eyes at a time.
About the Author:
Vironika Tugaleva is a life coach and award-winning author of The Love Mindset and The Art of Talking to Yourself. Find out more about her and start reading her books for free at www.vironika.org. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.