Chasing Success

A businessman on a track ready to run

Most individuals want to be successful. Financially, interpersonally, and, well… in pretty much all that they do. As a society, we tend to measure success in external possessions – a house, a nice car, a lucrative career. Personally, we may view success a bit differently. We may gage our personal success off of the perceived success of our relationships, or off of our general feelings of happiness and contentedness. No one really wants to live a mediocre life. Most people will set a series of personal goals, and gage their success as a human being off of how quickly and thoroughly these goals are achieved. While the definition of the word varies greatly from person-to-person, one thing is for certain – success is in high demand!

While it may seem as if every rational individual should be chasing success in all that they do, there is a very big difference between taking pride in being competent and constantly feeling inadequate. When an individual chases success, he or she is feeding into a faulty belief system which revolves around feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, and unworthiness. The dictionary describes success as “attaining wealth, prosperity, or fame.” In most cases, this will occur at the expense of healthy, interpersonal relationships – especially when it comes to men.

Men and The Pursuit of Success

Many men, at their core, feel fundamentally inadequate. They may feel unworthy of authentic love, or incapable of developing a genuine and meaningful connection with another human being. Negative core beliefs such as this typically stem from a lack of adequate nurturing during childhood. Many of the men who struggle with a deep-seated sense of incompetence adopted this belief at an early age, due to early relational trauma and/or a lack of secure attachment. Grown men who incessantly chase success act much like children who are desperately seeking compassion and approval. They essentially want the world to tell them that they are loved; that they are good enough, and that they are worthy of accomplishment.

Success and Accomplishment

Yet accomplishment and success bear different meanings, despite common misconception. Accomplishment refers to obtaining desired results when attempting to reach certain personal goals. Feeling a sense of accomplishment builds self-esteem, and is a healthy response to making progress. Success, on the other hand, is the positive consequence of an achieved accomplishment. Men who chase success are not working towards the eventual completion of wholesome ambitions – rather, they are trapped in a world of fantasy, working towards public triumphs that will bring them fame, fortune, and widespread recognition. Even if they do manage to conquer the feats they set out for themselves, they will do so at the expense of interpersonal relationships – there will always be collateral damage, and other areas of their personal lives will inevitably suffer. Relationships are of little importance unless they are directly linked to dominating whatever objective is next on the list.

Not to mention the fact that chasing success will never provide the man with the internal peace he subconsciously seeks. Success does not equate to authentic love or admiration, and even huge external achievements will not change the way the man feels about himself. Success will not eliminate negative core beliefs, and because of this, nothing will ever be good enough. Chasing success will become a never-ending cycle of fantasy, over-exertion, attainment, and dissatisfaction.

Overcoming Emotional Pain

Taking a step back from the drive for success and taking an honest look at the motivation behind it can be quite intimidating, seeing as doing so requires a certain level of vulnerability. Men who struggle with unresolved emotional pain will often lack a sense of self-identity, and harbor misguided feelings of inherent worthlessness. They will desperately look for a sense of worth and self in something external, such as a disproportionate drive for success. What will become of the man if he has nothing to work towards?

In order to make a beginning, the man must first address and resolve the underlying pain of his past. We at Next Chapter have extensive experience working with men who struggle with a host of disorders stemming from unresolved abuse, neglect, and abandonment during early childhood and adolescence. Through addressing this pain, the man will find the strength he needs to live a truly fulfilling life – a life of healthy, personal accomplishment.