Cover of "The Secret"

Cover of The Secret

When “The Secret” came out, I jumped on that band wagon as fast as a kitten pounces on rolling balls of yarn. The concept made sense to me and I immediately “tried” to incorporate the concepts into my daily life. The problem? My stubborn, don’t-believe-anything-unless-it’s-proven-beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt and always-expect-the-worst Ego! I don’t know about any of you but I can be very self-defeating at times! I can also be my own best friend. But that darned Ego of mine will jump in any chance it gets to ruin that friendship! It’s a constant battle…which is really age-old…you know the one I’m talking about – the “good versus evil” thing. (sigh) In fact, I think the Ego we all possess is the equivalent to “the devil on our shoulder” … the one that whispers all sorts of falsehoods and self-defeating flimflam in our ear.

Now I don’t really want to label my Ego as “evil”…because first of all, we are really quick to “label” things aren’t we? Once something gets a label then all sorts of problems start sprouting from it. Labels create … dare I say it? PROFILING! Yes. It does. Think about it…every time you paste a label on something, the description of that label defines its profile and that’s all she wrote, folks. Once a label is created, its damned near impossible to break free of it, and the opinions everyone wants to make of it. We can’t help it…our Egos make us do it (that little devil again!) and like it or not…we all must have an Ego to survive this physical, 3rd dimension world of ours.

I was in the military for twenty long-assed years. I say it that way because proud as I am of my service to our great country…it was not an easy career for me. I was in a career field that made me a big-time minority … a FEMALE in a MAN’S world (it was like 95 percent male!). How dare I, right? So anyway, my first label was “FEMALE” (not in the “she’s of the female gender” kind of female but in the “she’s a female in a career field she has no business being in and we are going to make her TRY and prove her worth over and over and yet it still won’t matter to us” sort of female). The second label (and the one that pissed me off more than the first one!) came as time went on…”Slut” (honestly I totally resent that darned word! It makes me cringe even typing it). That label came from the fact that I was often the only female in a sea of men and so the reasoning was that a good majority of those I chose to hang out with were more than likely my temporary bed partners (because men and women can’t be friends don’t-cha know). I tell you…I had it better than Casanova himself! (NOT!). The “slut” label actually came into play my second year in when I wash shipped off to Korea for a year (leaving behind my INFANT son…my first born, my pride and joy, the love of my life). My husband was sent to a different base because heaven forbid we get stationed together! There were 4 females in my unit at that base and we were all scattered to different work sections (either they tried to keep us together or they tried to keep us apart!). So we didn’t really see each other very much. I had two choices…hang out with my fellow male co-workers or spend a year in a strange foreign country all by my lonesome self. Though I like my own company, I also like to be around other people. Especially when I was over there, because when I was alone…I thought about how much I missed my baby! I soon learned through the fastest, most unrelenting, truth-has-no-purpose-here grapevine that EVERY male I was seen with was sleeping with me! Heck, I think they even had me hooked up with a couple of the girls! At first I was indignant. Then it got so ridiculous that it actually became amusing. I eventually joined in on the fun and made up some great “tall tales” of my own. I figured they shouldn’t be the only ones having fun in the story telling department. Especially as I’m a writer at heart and making up stories is my most favorite thing of all! Over time, I think I won most of them over and the slut rumors fell off…a little bit anyway. The new ones coming in had to be properly trained on this “labeling” problem and so it was ongoing (sigh).

So anyway…I’ve always been resentful of the story above and swore someday I was going to write about it! So, now that I’ve exorcised that out of my soul, I can get on with this post!  Back to the labeling thing. My tireless Ego is always labeling things for me. I play along with it until I realize it’s getting out of hand and then I put on the brakes and try to undo the damage. Another word for “labeling” is “judging”. We assign labels, we pass judgments…it’s what our Egos are supposed to do. Let me tell you…conquering this aspect of the Ego is one of the biggest challenges we face in this world!! The worst of it? When we judge and label ourselves. Most of us are way too critical and hard on our selves. I see it all the time. “I’m stupid”, “I’m weak”, “I’m clueless”, “I’m worthless”, “I’m bad”, “I’m no good”, “I can’t” and so on and so on. Those are labels we’ve placed on ourselves (and often on others as well) and those are judgments. You want to be happy in life? Stop the labeling and judging. Easier said than freaking done! In fact…very few people have accomplished it.

Point in case: I am a big “reality TV” fan. I love to watch competition shows…The Voice, American Idol, X-Factor, America’s Got Talent, The Taste, Hell’s Kitchen, Dancing With the Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, America’s Best Dance Crew (just to name a few). Never am I more judgmental than when watching those shows! I’m worse than the judges. In fact, I am judging them too while I’m at it!! Yeah, it can get pretty bad. I’m always like “What?! You picked him? You like her? You’re kicking him off the show? You kept her of all people?”… it seems I am more often than not, disagreeing with the judges judgments (because of course MY judgments are right! Right?). Recently, I let myself get worked up over the process now going on with American Idol. The judges were picking the next “Idols” to compete on the show and I’m all over it with the judgments and labels. I justify it by saying as long as I’m not telling them (the contestants) how I feel to their faces, it doesn’t matter. But you know…it does! It does because it matters to ME. I am affected by my judgments. And it finally hit me upside the head that I need to STOP!

And this is where that “secret to a happy life” comes in to play. Here me out. Have you ever heard a song, saw a movie or television show, read a book or a poem, saw a picture or other works of art that you thought was AWFUL? And YET…it was a hit, worth big money, and all-the-rage? How is it do you think that those things did so well EVEN THOUGH, in your intelligent opinion they were crap…or at least “not that great and certainly not worth the fuss”? For instance…Idol loves to humiliate people (and I’m really not liking this segment any more though I used to be amused by it) by putting their “worst hopeful try-outs” on the air and in such a way that you KNOW they are making fun of them. These are the singers that most people will agree don’t really have the “Idol star factor”. BUT…one year a contestant by the name of William Hung hit the “big time” and became an overnight sensation. Not because he was the “best singer to ever compete”, no. He was actually part of the “Idol’s worst competitors” segment. And this guy who would generally not be considered a great singer was selling his songs to a public fan base that loved him! You want to know Hung’s secret to his success? He BELIEVED in himself. He truly believed he had a great talent to share and the Universe went along with it. So this is my point…it DOES NOT MATTER if you are the BEST WRITER, or the BEST SINGER, or the BEST DANCER or whatever…you don’t have to be THE BEST. You just have to BELIEVE IN YOUR SELF.

That’s the whole message behind “The Secret”. I think that’s one of the messages Jesus tried so hard to get through our thick noggins! (which isn’t our fault really because the Ego does wrap us in a thick “fog” designed to keep us from THE TRUTH!). You know that whole “Seek and ye shall find” thing mentioned in the bible? Yeah…I think it was talking about seeking TRUTH through the process of believing in our self! Once we believe we are worthy, loving souls with the power to manifest our dreams and have the life we WANT, then accept it and KNOW it…happiness can and will be achieved!

I’m at the point where I now understand that successful, happy people are those who BELIEVE they are worthy of that success and happiness. They believe in themselves…they KNOW they have something worthwhile to offer the world and the Universe is going along with it because that’s how it works. Ever met a successful, happy person who thinks they are worthless and has no talent or anything worthwhile to offer anyone? I don’t think so. And no…it’s not because THOSE people actually DO have something to offer and really are worthy while all the rest of the sad, unsuccessful people do not fall into that category. I know plenty of people with awesome talent. My daughter for instance. She has a beautiful voice. Everyone tells her so. She enjoys singing even. BUT she doesn’t have enough belief in herself to do anything with it. And another thing…she’s beautiful. Really (and she didn’t get it from me I’m sad to say…and there you see it, my own judgment being passed!). But she doesn’t think she is beautiful. And so she’s sad a lot. I pray she comes to believe in herself for the beautiful, smart, talented, loving soul that she is. I feel this way about all my kids, by the way. They are all talented, smart, beautiful and wonderful people (am I lucky or what?!!). But that doesn’t mean they don’t struggle to master the secret to a happy life. Sadly, very few of us do master it. And the ones you THINK are happy and have mastered it? They probably haven’t either. I mean…look at that beautiful country star Mindy McCready that just committed suicide a couple days ago! She had an awesome talent…a beautiful voice, she was lovely…she should have been living the good life and some people probably thought she was…and she was so miserable she killed herself. And who would have believed that “TomKat” would have split (Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes)? They made a beautiful pair, they had tons of money and talent and they were so in love (remember Tom jumping on that sofa while chatting with Oprah?). So, even those who SEEM to have it made…often don’t. It’s a lesson for us all when we see these so called “beautiful people…the rich and famous…the ones who have it all” fall to sadness, divorce, addictions and suicide. Obviously there had to be a major disconnect with their beliefs…either in themselves or with others…to fall into despair or out of love!

This pretty significant epiphany came to me last week while watching American Idol and the choosing of the top twenty contestants. I didn’t agree with all the judges choices. I thought some of those chosen were the wrong choices and that some of those that were let go was a huge mistake. And then, after letting my Ego take control for awhile and getting all sorts of annoyed, my nicer side (what I like to call my consciousness which is closely connected to my soul and thus the voice of reasoning and love!) finally had enough and spoke up. I listened.

“Deb, ” I said to myself, “you have got to stop getting upset and worked-up over other peoples’ success or failure.” (the “failure” I’m talking about in this case are those not getting chosen for the top twenty on American Idol!) How it works is simple. Those that made it through…they BELIEVED in themselves. They believe they have talent and thus something to offer. And they believed it over those who said, “I can’t believe it. They just made a huge mistake!” Now when I talk about people who believe in themselves…I’m not talking about the cocky ones who walk around as if they are the greatest thing since sliced bread (not that I really get that cliché because personally, I don’t think anything is greater than homemade bread and that isn’t sliced until you need it!). The ones that love tooting their own horn to a pretty high degree are usually not as confident as they sound. More often than not, you’ll probably discover that its a front for a lack of self-esteem…and thus a lack in “belief in self”. So back to my conversation. “Deb, you need to watch and learn. Those people who made the cut that you don’t think are as great as some of those who didn’t make it…THEY believe in their talent. THAT’S what got them through!” So, instead of getting all bent out of shape about it (I can get really emotionally attached to these shows, let me tell ya!), I’m going to try hard to remind myself when my Ego starts to rear its ugly head, that I should not be judging other peoples’ successes and failures. Their life is their journey to make and I have no right to pass judgment on it. I mean…after all…I want people to support MY dreams! I do! How often do I check to see how my book sales are coming along? How often do I check to see if anyone has left a review and what they had to say if they did? Speaking of reviews…people can really show their criticism or approval in very distinct ways! I get the full spectrum…”hated it!” to “love it!”and even a few in-betweens…”It was okay” or “not bad”. Those are judgments and they are wanted/expected/prayed for judgments! (the good ones anyway!) In all honesty though…even the bad reviews are something to be proud of. I mean…I made someone care enough to get annoyed or upset or whatever and then write about it!! Think about that one. How often have you been annoyed and done nothing? Because it just didn’t matter enough to do anything. So, the fact my book mattered enough…even to leave a bad review…well, then it moved them and that’s all any of us writers can hope for!

So that’s it. The secret to a happy life. BELIEVE that you are WORTHY! KNOW that everyone has something to offer and when you put yourself out there, believing that you have something worth while to give, then the Universe (God, the Creator, Infinite Intelligence…or whatever you call it) will go along with it and respond accordingly. And yes…I KNOW it’s easier said than done. Am I mega-successful yet? Meaning, have I sold a gazillion books? No. Have I made it to the New York Times Best Seller List (my longtime dream!!)? No. Though I did make it to the #1 spot on Amazon’s Free Books List and to the #1 spot on Amazon’s “Ghosts” books!! Baby steps. I’m still learning how to master this easy-peasy secret to a happy life. But my gosh is it HARD!!

So, here’s to wishing you success in your dreams. Here’s to believing in YOU and what you have to offer! Here’s to one of God’s greatest achievements! YOU!!! I think we forget that sometimes. We were all created by God and God does not make crap!! WE might turn things into crap…but God does not!

Until next time…Peace Out and Many blessings to all of you!!