As writers we all want to be a success. We want to have our words touch people’s hearts; we want to somehow be immortalized through our work, and at the end of the day we want to sell books. That seems pretty normal---but percolating under the unconscious surface, could there be deeper reasons that being a success is so important to us? And, is the drive to “make it”
stealing our joy?
Each one of us has attached meaning to what being a “success” is. To some, it may mean becoming well-known; to others it may mean finding value and worth through the praise and admiration of others, and maybe to some it’s about making money. Is that so terrible? It is if you’re placing your significance on it.
Drive States
How can we tell if our search for significance is riding on our achievements? Can we really discover what drives our need to be a success? Yes, by understanding what success means to us and discovering how it fulfills our needs.
Needs are essential to life. Without them, we won’t function in the way we were designed us to function. In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow developed a hierarchy of needs that included physiological needs, as well as psychological needs like love, belonging, and self-actualization. When a need goes unmet it creates tension. That tension creates a drive state motivating us to get the need met.
Once our basic physiological needs are met, we’re driven to meet higher level needs. Self-actualization is obtained when our full potential is realized. Our psychological needs, listed below are the five that I teach my clients along with their definitions.
• Love---unconditional caring from another
• Acceptance---feeling full and complete as I am
• Value/worth---what gives me meaning and purpose in life
• Security---freedom from harm; emotional safety
• Adequacy---the need to know I’m competent
Why are these so important? Because needs drive us to action, and the objects of their fulfillment (a book contract, notoriety, money) act as incentives to make us feel good about ourselves. If we value success it’s because success meets some, or all of the above mentioned needs. That’s why rejection is such a bitter pill to swallow. It causes us a loss of one, or all of our needs. We become discouraged because the message rejection gives us is that we aren’t cutting it, we’re failures, or we’re not good enough.
How what we believe steals our joy
The drive to meet our needs is fueled by our beliefs. Our beliefs about success and rejection create that state of tension for us. We are motivated to be successful because there is a payoff for us. We may believe if we’re a success, we’ll have notoriety, financial security, and feel good about ourselves.
The tension, or drive state that’s fueled by our beliefs, propels us to act in ways that will get our needs met. We may become workaholics, be obsessive, try harder, worry, and control. If we don’t succeed, it’s easy to see how we can become discouraged, lose our joy, or drive ourselves to despair if our goal is blocked.
If I believe I’ll be a failure if I don’t get something published, the loss of my needs becomes secondary to what I’m believing about myself, and the world around me. Believing “I am a failure” takes my feelings (disappointment) and makes them into facts (beliefs). The problem is the belief (I’m a failure) makes my significance dependent on my performance, which couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Engaging in patterns of negative self-defeating thinking open the doorway to feelings of disappointment and discouragement, which ultimately steal our joy. What’s the solution? Glad you asked.
Disappointment or discouragement?
Disappointment is an emotional response to a blocked goal, a hurt; or perceived loss of some kind. It’s normal to be disappointed when we wanted something to happen and it didn’t--- or, if we didn’t want something to happen and it did. But what about discouragement, how does that impact us at the heart level? If left unchecked, discouragement can lead us to despair. It:
• Creates feelings of anger or depression
• Makes us feel a loss of confidence
• Gives us a sense of inadequacy
• Causes us to focus on the obstacles
• Tempts us to believes lies about ourselves, God and others
Our beliefs provide clues as to why we struggle with discouragement. So we need to notice what we’re telling ourselves that’s causing our joy to be stolen. Here are some examples-- see if any fit for you:
• I’m a failure if I don’t get something published
• I’m not good enough
• I’m inadequate
• I have to sell more books to be a success
• If I don’t make a best seller list I’m not a good writer
• I won’t be happy unless I’m a success
If you said yes to any of the above, what you need is to change your perspective.
Looking through a different lens

When we look through the lens of possibilities we can change or modify our beliefs about success and failure. Here are a few discouragement busters to consider:
• Focus on the bigger picture
• Watch for negative self talk

• Cultivate an attitude of gratitude
What disappointments are you facing today? What beliefs are robbing you of the joy that is already yours? Begin today to cultivate an attitude of gratefulness by refusing to let the drive for success steal your joy. Thank God that he has gifted you as a storyteller---then sit back and enjoy the journey!

Author's Bio: 

Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor in the Northern Virginia/DC area. She is the host of Heartline Podcast and Consider This. Her show airs on several radio stations as well as the Internet. They can be downloaded from or heard on Women’s Radio Network, as well as iTunes at Heartline Podcast. Rita writes for numerous publications and blogs. Her articles have appeared in Counseling Today Magazine, Thriving Family, and Christianity Today, Kyria. Her book Shattered: Moving Beyond Broken Dreams releases in September 2013 by Leafwood Publishers. Follow her at, on FB and twitter @heartlinepod.