Success or failure?

By David Joel Miller, MS, Licensed Therapist & Licensed Counselor.

Success or failure sign

Success or failure.
Photo courtesy of

Are you a success or a failure?

Men and women seem to understand success and failure differently. The kinds of things that most men see as successes and failures are different from those experienced by women.

I know those old gender stereotypes are not always true and things are changing, but when it comes to issues of success and failure the problems that bring men and women to the counseling room are usually different. Men in counseling may say they are not very successful. They want to be more successful. Women rarely say that.

When men say success they mean money or accomplishment.

Men talk about not being successful in terms of money, income, being a good provider for their family. They also think in terms of accomplishment. Men feel good about themselves when they win a contest, are famous for some sport or activity, or because of education and promotions, they assume a position of authority.

It doesn’t always have to be about the money, it can also be about the position or the activity. A pastor, priest, or director of a nonprofit may not make a lot of money but they can think of themselves as successful if they are able to see their organization accomplish its mission. If they feel that the role they fill is important.

Women worry about relationship failure.

Women, on the other hand, are more likely to see their therapist because they perceive that they have “failed.” They report they have “failed” at marriage or “failed” at motherhood. Traditionally men and women have evaluated themselves differently.

Men think they need to have things.

Men are most likely to evaluate themselves based on what they have or “are.” They have a nice house, they drive a new prestigious car, they have a good-looking “trophy” wife. Lacking a lot of expensive toys a man can still feel good about himself if he believes he “is” something worthwhile. He can be poor and still have “status” if he is a priest or pastor, a doctor, or a professor.

Women tend to evaluate themselves based on their relationships. They can feel like a success if they have good children who love them. The love of their husband is likely to be more important than his income. Women have told me they don’t care if they have to live in a car as long as they know their man and their kids love them. Now clearly there are materialistic women just like there are men who are more motivated by love. But overall women may look for a man who can be a good provider for them and the children, but having made their choice they are most likely to feel they are successful if the relationship is going well rather than if he sends the money home from a place where he lives with someone else.

In therapy, people get a chance to take another look at their understanding of success and failure. They decide just what they need to do to feel successful and they learn new skills to move to the position of feeling good about themselves. Sometimes they discard the yardstick they have been using to measure success and get a new understanding of what success and failure mean to them.

Whether you feel like a success or failure then is not all about the money or the relationship. It is mostly about the yardstick you are using to measure success or failure. How do you measure your success or failure? What would you need to have or accomplish to feel successful and what are you doing to get there?

Staying connected with David Joel Miller

Seven David Joel Miller Books are available now!

My newest book is now available. It was my opportunity to try on a new genre. I’ve been working on this book for several years, but now seem like the right time to publish it.

Story Bureau.

Story Bureau is a thrilling Dystopian Post-Apocalyptic adventure in the Surviving the Apocalypse series.

Baldwin struggles to survive life in a post-apocalyptic world where the government controls everything.

As society collapses and his family gets plunged into poverty, Baldwin takes a job in the capital city, working for a government agency called the Story Bureau. He discovers the Story Bureau is not a benign news outlet but a sinister government plot to manipulate society.

Bumps on the Road of Life. Whether you struggle with anxiety, depression, low motivation, or addiction, you can recover. Bumps on the Road of Life is the story of how people get off track and how to get your life out of the ditch.

Dark Family Secrets: Doris wants to get her life back, but small-town prejudice could shatter her dreams.

Casino Robbery Arthur Mitchell escapes the trauma of watching his girlfriend die. But the killers know he’s a witness and want him dead.

Planned Accidents  The second Arthur Mitchell and Plutus mystery.

Letters from the Dead: The third in the Arthur Mitchell mystery series.

What would you do if you found a letter to a detective describing a crime and you knew the writer and detective were dead, and you could be next?

Sasquatch. Three things about us, you should know. One, we have seen the past. Two, we’re trapped there. Three, I don’t know if we’ll ever get back to our own time.

For these and my upcoming books; please visit my Author Page – David Joel Miller

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