Failure? Or learning?

Recently, someone I care about decided to make some major changes. He moved away a couple of years ago with big dreams of creating a life he dreamed of, but things just never quite worked no matter how hard he tried. So he finally decided to let go of the dream and move in a different direction. One of the things I’ve heard him say again and again while he was away was that he didn’t want to give up because he thought that would make him a failure. So he persevered and persevered against all odds, but no matter what he did or how much he persevered, things just never came together. In my experience, when that happens, it’s just not meant to be and we’re trying to force something to happen that simply isn’t for us. I’m happy to tell you that he has decided that he hasn’t failed after all. He’s choosing to look at the time he spent on this adventure as a time of learning and experiencing things he wouldn’t had he not taken that chance.

So this all has me thinking about all of the times when I did things (or didn’t) out of a fear of being perceived as a failure. I can see how that pervaded my world and slowly made me more and more fearful of being perceived as a failure and that made me put more pressure on myself to get it right and that led to my being more and more fearful of being perceived as a failure and that made me put more pressure on myself which made me more fearful which made me put more pressure on myself… Are you starting to see how easy it can be to get stuck in a way of thinking that leads you further and further down the rabbit hole?

I’ve recently heard a lot of health and holistic practitioners using the term “dis-ease”. What they’re talking about is a lack of ease in the body caused by a lack of ease in our being and the idea is that this is when disease comes to call. The cumulative result of years and years of stress and trauma is what causes people to get sick. This idea makes sense to me. If they’re right that everything is energy and we disrupt the flow of energy, doesn’t it make sense that things don’t work well?

We had a problem with our phone line a few years ago. Something had happened to the connection outside at the pole and we were getting a lot of static and breaking up during conversations and sometimes the connection would be lost altogether. This is how I equate these disruptions in the energy flows. Things may still work, sort of, but the longer the problem persists the worse it becomes. How much trauma do you think we inflict on ourselves when we get stuck in a thought process that causes fear and stress? Does it make sense that if we allow that to continue it may begin to affect how we’re showing up in our lives, in our work, even in our bodies?

So what does this idea of failure feel like for you. It used to feel very, very heavy and even scary for me. That was when I had the idea that in order to be good enough, smart enough, successful enough… insert your enough statement here… I had to strive for perfection. Here’s what I’ve learned. Perfection in the sense of never making a mistake is an illusion. And striving for it, well, that just leads to piles and piles of stress, judgment of yourself and others, and generally a very unhappy space. Where’s the fun in that??

What if you considered that failing was not something to be avoided? What if failing was actually learning? Consider how many times a baby falls down before learning to run or how many times a child will fall off their bike before they learn to balance. Each time they fall, they gain a piece of information they need to be successful so with every failed attempt, they actually get closer to reaching their goal. Now there’s a completely different perspective than I used to have. So what if failure is something to be pleased about and embraced as a necessary part of learning how to be successful? What does that change for you? Does that create a space that allows you to be kinder to yourself, laugh at yourself, maybe even have a bit of fun? After all, isn’t that the whole point? To learn, to grow, and to have some fun while we’re at it. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty great to me.

So the next time you approach a new project or things fall apart, I challenge you to not waste your energy on disappointment. I challenge you to look at what’s happened and learn whatever you can from it, then pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again. And if it doesn’t come together because it really isn’t for you, take a lesson from my friend and decide to be grateful for the experience and pick a new direction. Life doesn’t have to be as hard as we sometimes make it. It can even be a lot of fun… if you choose it.

As always, I welcome your thoughts. Please feel free to leave me a comment below and to share with people you know. Until next time.


Leave a Reply