It's the new year and a lot of people are filled with hope and excitement. We're thinking about our dreams for the year ahead and there are a lot of motivational memes and pictures out there on this bandwagon.
Many of them are great, but some of them seem a little misguided if you ask me. I see messages like this all the time, and there's something about it that irks me.
While I believe it's meant to be motivating, the underlying message is inherently judgmental. Plus it perpetuates judgmental and dismissive attitudes towards others who might be less fortunate.
How come? Because it presupposes that anyone who's unsuccessful is so because they're simply lazy. Not only does this continue a narrative of shame and status anxiety (as if we don't already have enough of that already), but it's also a very over simplified explanation.
It doesn't take into account the plethora of factors that determine whether someone achieves "success" or not, namely their family's income bracket, the upbringing they had, contacts and connections they might have and so on. There are plenty of trust-fund babies who have had success, in part due to the economic advantage they were born into.
I get that obviously you can't fit all that into a short message like this, but I also feel that if we want to motivate one another, these messages could be a lot more supportive. I also get that there are many wonderful examples of people who have overcome adversity and have been recognized for their success. But let's not make that the yard stick to measure everyone else by, followed by beating them with it. Saying "John did it, so Joe should be able to as well" is far from a comprehensive rationale. It's also this type of messaging that can make a person scared of trying things for fear of social judgement if they fail. Entrepreneurship for example, is a gamble enough without worrying what your peers will say if you make mistakes and flounder.
While I don't consider myself a 'bleeding heart', I do believe in being fair and I genuinely believe that most people are trying their best. Yet we never feel like it's ever enough. As I've previously written about, the "hole" the consumer economy has manufactured, we should still question the messages we're absorbing and whether they make us feel good. On a subconscious level, we often absorb and accept these concepts, even if they make us feel depleted.
I've been guilty of it too. When I first started my business and was working from home, I fell into an "unemployment" depression whereby I let my sense of shame deplete my creativity, productivity and self esteem. A lot of the messages I got from my peers were skeptical, and supposedly motivating quotes like those above, simply added to my not feeling worthy of success - even though what I have to offer is valued and my intentions to help others are pure.
It's easy to get convinced when there's such a sheer volume of this out there. But that's all the more reason to encourage one another. If you or anyone you know is brave enough to take a chance, champion them! Even if just for their bravery.
Sometimes we fail because we need to learn something. Sometimes we make excuses because we're nervous about really trying. Sometimes we don't have the energy or will power, or perhaps we're out of alignment and need to start over. Whatever it is, shake off the shame and show yourself some love. There's no better way to nurture creativity, risk-taking and hard work than being kind to yourself.
Funny thing about being nice to yourself is that you're usually nicer to others after too.
[A bit cutesy I know but it still makes me smile, haha]
So with that I say, make your own motivational messages, memes or vision boards. Ones that are personal to you. Or at least find messaging that truly resonates with you, encourages you, empowers you.
~Wishing you a peaceful road, wherever it may take you <3