We all have our own ways of measuring success, both in our own lives and in others. Sure, we all want to think we’re not being judgmental, but deep down we all have ways we measure how well others are (or aren’t) succeeding.
But how do we measure this success? What’s our proverbial litmus test? I often find that we fall into the trap of judging success based on where we (or others) are at the time, not how far they’ve come. That seems cockeyed to me, even though I understand it. After all, we can often only judge what is in front of us. We don’t always know the history, making it all that much more difficult to appreciate how much someone has come. Even when we do know the history, sometimes we still fail to honor a person’s success because we are blinded by how much farther we know that person could go.
I can see two areas in my own life where my success, or lack of, has been judged based on the here and now … and I know it’s not a healthy thing.
One example is my progress since gastric bypass surgery. I still face the discrimination of people assuming I’m lazy or a failure because I’m still very overweight. I’ve had people make comments to my face (“so when will the surgery start working?”), and I’ve overheard people make comments about failed GBS patients when they thought I couldn’t hear them. This includes such comments from people who should know better, including health care “professionals.”
What those people don’t see is how far I’ve come. Yes, I still have 75 pounds left to lose then lots of loose skin to be removed. But you know what? I still consider my surgery a success. I have lost a net amount of 130-140 pounds so far. My diabetes is completely gone. I’ve worked on the emotional issues that led to the weight gain in the first place. So while I still have farther to go, I consider myself to be a success no matter what others think or say. Continuing to lose weight and become even healthier physically and emotionally will only increase my level of success.
While we all face others making unfair judgments about our achievements, I think the worst culprit is often ourselves. I know it can be true with me! I know this is another health-related example, but it’s been a major part of my thought process of late. I’ve spent the entire month of April either having surgery or recuperating from surgery. I had two major surgeries within a week of each other and spent 17 days in the hospital. I’ve been home nearly two weeks and I fight feeling discouraged because there’s still so much I can’t do.
Does that make me a failure? No. I keep having to remind myself that it was only a couple of weeks ago that I was so weak that I couldn’t even lift my own head. Now I’m able to take care of myself at home and do 75-80 percent of my daily functions completely on my own. I keep having to remind myself that just a few weeks ago, I had conditions that could have easily killed me and would have if they hadn’t been caught. I have to keep reminding myself that a couple of weeks ago, I was so weak that I couldn’t sit in my wheelchair for longer than two hours. Now, I can not only stay up all day, but I’ve been released by my surgeon for light work duty (just can’t lift). I have to keep reminding myself that I’m getting stronger and healing more and more every day. I’m healing faster than most people probably would.
I’m succeeding at healing from everything that got thrown at my body. I’m even doing better than was expected.
So what does this all mean for you? Have there been times when you felt that your progress was ignored? Have there been times when you’ve done that to yourself?
How do you plan on stopping the cycle?