By Suma Varughese August 2013 For some of us, the journey to success starts with undoing the programmes that incline us to failure, says Suma Varughese Suma Varughese is a thinker, writer, seeker, latent crusader and Editor-in-Chief of Life Positive. Write to her at email@example.com I was recently reading the fairly touching account of someone who lazed her way through school, even ignoring her considerable gift for music, until a timely warning from her teacher gave her the impetus she needed to get her act together. Determinedly, she began to work on herself, challenging herself each time the old programmes arose, tempting her to procrastinate or goof off. Slowly, but steadily, she gained over her weaknesses and today she considers herself to be a successful person. I could resonate with her journey – for I too have had to challenge tremendously strong programmes that condemned me to inaction, procrastination and indifference. For people such as us, the journey to success first includes undoing and dissembling all that programmes us towards failure. Of course, it is hard not to feel so much more behind those who appear naturally programmed for success – who never seem to have to struggle with the forces of resistance. It is true that it is by no means easy to change oneself, to accept one’s frailties and to continue to retain the stout faith in oneself needed to keep going. But that should not blind us to the many valuable gifts that self-salvaging brings in its wake. For one thing, we learn humility. In the course of reconfiguring ourselves, we have to take a thorough drubbing in reality. We can no longer shield ourselves from the knowledge of who we are, what are our weaknesses and the consequences to these weaknesses. Even though this is dispiriting, it also teaches us that we are by no means the paragons of virtue we thought ourselves to be. And that enables us to take off some of the armour with which we come prepared for the battle of life. Since we are no longer invested in projecting others as inferior in order to feel superior, we can finally afford to look at others with fellow feeling and at last begin to appreciate them for who they are. We finally begin to function at par with others, and that brings us closer to them and even to our own selves. For most of us, our good opinion of ourselves is so important that we often sacrifice growth in order to preserve it. We all know of those who refuse to acknowledge their faults, who cannot bear to be in the wrong, who glory in their sense of self-righteousness. Christ had a healthy disrespect for such posturing. The priestly class of his time was notorious for following the letter of the faith rather than the spirit. For most of us, our good opinion of ourselves is so important that we often sacrifi ce growth in order to preserve it. They observed the Sabbath, and excoriated Christ because he chose to heal on Sabbath, which, according to them, was against the admonition to rest on that day. For Christ, the repentant sinner was any day preferable to the sanctimonious saint, for the latter was rooted to the spot, and would by no means be able to grow. The repentant sinner, by virtue of his determination to change himself, was in a much more advantageous position in comparison. So bully for us! We also learn wonderful qualities like compassion and empathy, for our own sufferings soften us and enable us to better understand that of others. In many ways too, our understanding of life and human nature is far deeper and more subtle than that of those who have never had to take on the hard journey of moving from failure to success. We know the whole route and therefore can sympathise and understand with the many pitfalls that people fall into. So on the whole then, I am glad I had to take on this journey. Perhaps, after all, I would not have it any other way.
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