Learning not to Fear Failure

“When we begin to take our failures non-seriously, it means we are ceasing to be afraid of them. It is of immense importance to learn to laugh at ourselves” — Katherine Mansfield

In any given day, we will succeed at some things and fail at others. Failure happens to some degree every day. Over time, If we lose our sense of humor, we can begin to feel badly about our failures, letting those feelings compound into a statement about our self-worth. After all, who wants to fail?

There are times when a failure seems too big to make us laugh, and indeed some mistakes aren’t that funny. In those cases, does it make sense to continue to wallow in self-loathing, or to earnestly move forward in a new direction. Every moment offers us a chance for a new direction, and if we are mired in self loathing about our failures, we lose the chance to see the new opportunities that are available to us in the present moment.

I am resisting the temptation to see my move into a job that didn’t suit me as a failure. It was a learning experience, and I do not regret making the decision to change directions after several attempts to make it work. Resilience is one of my strengths. Having gone through much harder times, bigger failures in my life, I remain an eternal optimist, with a healthy dose of sardonic cynicism to keep me from being too naive.

Early in my recovery from an eating disorder, I had a sponsor who gave me a stuffed, quilted pig she had lovingly made for me. It seemed rather ironic, given my condition, but the words she said when she presented it to me have always stayed with me, even 35 years later. Her words were simple “Don’t wallow in it!”

I don’t expect everything in life to work out, and I don’t expect myself to be perfect. I know I will make mistakes, fail, fall down, and do dumb things. Sometimes I will be able to laugh at these things, and sometimes I will need to take a moment to cry.

Life itself fails us at times, and all we can do is decide, and decide, and decide again. Where to next?

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It’s my Journey

“It’s ok if things unfold differently than the plan. I learned that the business is just part of me, but it’s not who I am. It’s just what I do. ” – Emily Maynard

I came across this quote from an article in Forbes, How This Founder Reinvented Herself and Her Business to Find Happiness. How easy it is to look outside of ourselves for happiness, and how futile that search can become.

I’ve been doing some soul-searching lately after making a career change that hasn’t exactly been a good fit for me. I’m slowly working through this dilemma and recently met with a career coach who is helping me figure things out.  In the meantime, I am learning more about myself and my need to seek outward affirmation of my worth. My work has always been a big part of my drive for success. Ultimately this type of approach leads to a feeling of emptiness and not being true to oneself. The older I get the more I realize I only have so many days left on this earth, so I need to expend my energy on finding a peaceful balance between my inner and outer worlds.

I’ve never forgotten this line from the movie, Out of Africa. It says it perfectly:

“I don’t want to live someone else’s idea of how to live. Don’t ask me to do that. I don’t want to find out one day that I am at the end of someone else’s life.”

Practice Accepting What We’re Given

“The reward for practicing accepting what we’re given is we become intimate with everything that’s not us. We become intimate with the nature of life.  And it’s the rhythm between our own nature and the nature of life that allows us to find the thread we are — the thread we are in the unseeable connections that hold everything together.” – Mark Nepo

I love the concept of finding the “thread we are” in nature.  Sometimes I find it hard to get out of my head, especially when I am trying to make a decision or solve a problem. It seems counterintuitive to simply let go and accept where I am in the moment, not to mention incredibly difficult given my obsessive compulsive personality.

The other day I decided to take a walk and as I strolled along, I realized I was stuck in my head, oblivious to nature around me.  I remembered what Mark Nepo said in his Book of Awakening about dealing with difficult thoughts and emotions by finding something in nature that most represents how you are feeling.  I started looking for things during my walk, and slowly I was able to stop the obsessive thinking.

I would recommend giving this approach a try, and remember to go easy on yourself if you have trouble letting go of your thoughts — they are part of nature too.

Simple Pleasures

Thanks to all of you who offered words of encouragement and wisdom in response to my last post about finding success. It was nice to be reminded that living in the moment and finding peace within is always the best approach to uncertainty. This past week I have found some relief from my questioning by applying those strategies as much as I could remember to, and when those stormy thoughts entered my mind, accepting them.

I’ve just spent the weekend with my adorable, lively 3-year-old granddaughter and my precious daughter.  I wish they lived closer but 5 hours away isn’t so bad.  It is amazing how many things one notices when walking with a toddler. The ants crawling on the sidewalk, the scent of a pine cone, and the sounds of a baby bird hidden in a nearby bush.

Today is a beautiful day and the only dilemma I’m feeling right now is how to spend it. Gardening? Hiking? Bike Riding? How grateful I am to have so may choices.

Practice self-compassion this holiday season

“Self-compassion is approaching ourselves, our inner experience with spaciousness, with the quality of allowing which has a quality of gentleness. Instead of our usual tendency to want to get over something, to fix it, to make it go away, the path of compassion is totally different. Compassion allows.”  – Robert Gonzales