Last week we talked about the messy business of jealousy, and what it feels like to watch someone else achieve something that you’d really like to have gotten for yourself. It’s messy because it’s multi-dimensional. Jealousy starts out being directed towards someone else, but quickly comes right back atcha, getting mixed up with feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt, with the final layer of self-judgment for feeling all those feelings in the first place. Jealousy is the sangria of emotions. You can’t be totally sure what’s in it, and even if you think it feels good at first, eventually you’re in for a headache – or worse. Winning is different, though. When you’re the one scooping up the trophies, that’s when the Dom starts flowing. Headache, what? Not a chance.
One of the great side effects of winning is that no one asks you any questions. When you’re winning, no one stops you and says, “Hey, are you sure? Are you doing ok? Is this resonating deeply with you?” No! They say, “Great job! Keep it up! More, more, more!” And why wouldn’t you agree? Winning feels good, and once you hit your groove, it might even be easy. Plus, it can be motivating to know that you are pleasing others around you. Stopping to reflect in the midst of that kind of momentum would appear nonsensical. Sometimes, though, it can keep you from achieving yourself right off of a metaphorical cliff.
A person who’s winning all the time holds power, not only in terms of political or social capital, but in their ability to make things happen. Power is intoxicating, especially when we’re the one feeling it. But when that power isn’t matched with purpose, the thrill wears off pretty quickly. It starts to feel both empty and burdensome at the same time. It can be the source of internal discord and external frustration, trying to figure out why something that everyone says is so great makes you feel so bad. That’s where a turbo boost of winning can get you – unless, you stop along the way to fill up on reflection.
When things are going well, or when an opportunity takes us by surprise, we tend to think that the universe is sending us a message. This must be right, if it’s happening like this. But often, our gut is telling us otherwise, tugging at us to see past the shine to something potentially more meaningful. This is battleground central, where our hearts do battle with our heads, and our ego squares off with our intuition. The push and pull can be downright torture. So if we have the choice, we skip it, sticking with the same ‘ol path, collecting the same ol’ prizes.
But when we’re ready to face the battle, mindfulness can help us formulate a peace treaty between those opposing forces of guaranteed wins and purposeful work. We have to be willing to face the discomfort of change and the uncertainty of risk. If you are able to find stillness and bring your attention to your breath with intention, you give the battle an opportunity to quell, and your purpose a chance to speak. It will tell you what it means to win on your terms, and give you all the focus and courage that you need to set out to do just that.
“Be still. The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” – Ram Dass
Photo credit: Ben Rosset