The phrase, “Keep your spoon in your own bowl” is Appalachian in origin, and it means that one should mind one’s own business, and/or not to be worried about what other people are doing and focus on your own being.

A little background: I’m one of those people who seeks transformation and enlightenment through conscious living and the daily practice of activities that will raise my vibration and increase my sense of inner peace and belonging. I like the way Elizabeth Gilbert says it: “Mine is just a simple old human story—of one person trying, with great rigor and discipline, to comprehend her personal relationship with divinity.”

I still have lots of work to do, considering where I started, but the “aha!” moments happen more frequently these days. One of my biggest “aha!” moments, and one of the most memorable, happened about three years ago, when the true, visceral understanding of the concept of keeping my spoon in my own bowl washed over me like a warm, gentle wave.

Many of usB look at the accomplishments of others with well-suppressed envy and resentment. It manifested physically as a tightening of my solar plexus and awakened primitive fear-based thoughts that told me, (a) that I was not “good enough,” or (b) that because of their success, there was now less for me. Ugh. Ego and a scarcity consciousness make for a stinky cologne, an effective barrier to reaching one’s own full potential. When I became aware of this self-defeating pattern of perception, one that was programmed into my subconscious and needed to be rooted out, I sought out people and resources who could help me empty that particular trash basket.

My parents have a time share condominium on Sanibel Island in Florida. Sanibel is famous for the many varieties of shells that wash up on its shores. It is a haven for shell seekers. When I am able to get away for that one week every year when my family visits Sanibel, I will spend hours walking the Gulf shores and scooping up conch, junonia and lightning whelk shells. I’m in bliss when I do this, the warm, blue waters lapping around my ankles and the caw of sea gulls overhead. And then it occurred to me—even though there are hundreds, or maybe thousands, of tourists who walk these beaches every day, marveling at and collecting shells as I am doing, carting them off in their suitcases, there will always be more shells tomorrow. The shells will keep washing ashore, in endless quantities, for everyone to enjoy, forever.

These were my epiphanies in that blinding moment of clarity:

We live in an abundant universe

There is always enough to go around. The notion of “scarcity” is false and limiting. No one else’s success is a limitation of what is possible for ourselves and the pursuit of our dreams. The world offers limitless possibility. The universe wants to give us what we want and ask for. For this awareness to become deeply ingrained in our waking consciousness, we must reprogram our subconscious to believe this is true. It takes daily practice. It’s why we make vision boards and meditate. When I need to remind myself that there’s plenty to go around, I remember my beautiful beach in Sanibel.

In actuality, there are no “competitors”

Although there are hundreds of others who seek to accomplish the same things as you, there is no one on earth who can do it the same way as you do. There is only one you. People will select to do business with you because you are you. And there is no limit to the number of people who are looking for you, just you. Keep looking, and be true to your uniqueness. There is enough to go around.

The distraction is unproductive

While you’re busy trying to put your spoon in other people’s bowls, you’ve stopped putting your spoon in your own bowl. You’re robbing yourself of precious time and concentration, which is a shame, because what you’re doing is awesome. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the stuff in your bowl has become cold and soggy. Eww.

Your negative perceptions are false

The world you see is “made up,”  based upon your unique life experiences and the programming that was loaded into your subconscious mind when you were a small child who didn’t know what the heck was going on anyway. What you’re seeing in the accomplishments of others is entirely fictional. You don’t know where they’ve been, or what they’ve had to endure to be where they are, or even what the truths are behind their so-called “accomplishments.” For all you know, in actuality, they could be living in a van down by the river, but because of their positive press, you envision them as being rich and happy and living in the lap of luxury. Stop it! Envision yourself as being rich and happy and living in the lap of luxury, if that’s what you desire. Keep your spoon in your own bowl. It hurts you to do otherwise.

Their success is a demonstration of what is possible for you

So, your friend, Sally, has written a best-selling business book and she’s traveling the world, commanding huge speaking fees, staying in exotic hotels, and is smiling broadly in all her Facebook photos. Celebrate her success—celebrate with her, and support her in your heart—because she has given you an amazing gift, which is to demonstrate to you that everything you wish for is possible… that there are, indeed, rewards for all of your hard work.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you do to keep your spoon in your own bowl. Let’s keep each other strong by sharing what we’ve learned and what keeps us moving in the direction of our dreams.