We’ve all done things in our lives that didn’t turn out so well. Some of us have done it gracefully and covered it up with style and others of us have belly-flopped and farted in front of a large crowd.
Some hardy folk with solid self-esteem can simply laugh at themselves and move on unaffected.
Most of us though, flinch away from thinking about those times. If we have to think about them we get that cringe or shame sensation followed by feeling down-hearted about ourselves. Ironically, even though we try not to dwell on these moments – or we deny they ever happened – they actually often steer our lives in sneaky, invisible ways. That’s because we judge ourselves to have failed and our feeling of threat from that teaches our brain to prevent us from doing that again
What if there is no such thing as failure?
I’ve been exploring this deeply lately as I head out into areas that remind me of old belly-flops – at least TO MY MIND at the time they were belly-flops. I keep having to strongly nudge myself to keep going because a large chunk of me is sending out warnings that this is Failure Territory. My brain learned well.
So why am I doing it? Why not just avoid the things I ‘failed’ at before?
Well! If my life is going to be pleasant and fun – yes I said “pleasant and fun”. Otherwise WHAT is the point people? Seriously! – then shame and fear just can’t be allowed to play leading roles. Shame and fear are no fun at all! And excuse me, but threatening myself with “What if I fail?” gives them lead roles. So sorry, no. Not happening.
In my work I get to observe people’s lives. I see the reasons for their choices and I see the outcomes of their choices. From my vantage point it’s easy for me to see that there is no such thing as ‘failure’. There are just paths to walk down; choices and consequences. You make a choice, you take a path, and it takes you to somewhere. You may like that somewhere or you may hate it but it’s not ‘wrong’ and not a ‘failure’. It’s just a path and a place you got to.
Good, bad, right, wrong – all that stuff is just judgement. Judgement is borne of fear.
There is another way to do it.
When you get to your Somewhere, your reaction to it and your judgements about it teach you about yourself. Then you make the next set of choices based on that new knowledge. That’s all. No fear about how it ‘should’ have been, no judgement. Slowly but surely over your lifetime you gradually learn to make choices that are increasingly in line with what feels genuinely good to you. When you make those kinds of choices you feel good and you begin to shine your unique light more brightly. Life becomes fun and others are touched and inspired to brightly shine their own light too.
I do think the point of Life is learning to live unafraid in a way that a) genuinely feels fun and pleasant to you and b) allows you to shine your unique shine in the most unfettered way possible.
The things we call ‘failures’ are just showing us where we have beliefs that are blocking us from that goal. So we see what we need to clear. Everything that happens in our life assists us with that task of being free and ok. EVERYTHING. That’s why there’s no such thing as failure because everything that happens shows us more about ourselves so that we may make choices that let us shine more. When we shine, we have fun – and so do others.
Take a moment to think on whether ‘failure’ has impacted on having fun in your life now. In what ways?
This is a topic that needs time to wrap our heads around. Next week I will explore some practical examples of where people thought they had failed but it was just their next step towards shining.
Join me for part 2 next week.
(Originally published Feb 23, 2015)