In my years of being alive, I have never met someone who enjoys failing. We are conditioned that way. We naturally have this inner want to do well, even if it is something we don’t do particularly well. I don’t believe that we seek to fail, but we have to accept that is a part of life and because of that we need to make a distinction between the act of failing and how that affects us.
Let’s start with what we all know…we all suffer moments of defeat. Moments where we gave our everything to something and we still fell short. It is going to happen more than we would like to admit. Earlier this week, I heard someone share that we are born with only two fears: the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. I also remembering hearing somewhere that humans learn more between birth and a year old than they will ever learn in their lifetime. That just seems insane to me. So, as much as we already know now and have learned throughout our lifetimes, failure is something we learn as we get older.
But most of us get stuck behind a failure and can allow it to define us in ways that are much bigger than the failure itself.
For example, perhaps we know people who cannot ever seem to bring themselves out of a failure, so even a minor trip up can feel more major than it really is and that can send someone off into a downward spiral that seems to have a mind of its own. Having worked in the juvenile justice system for almost 8 years and having some family members who deal with the daily toll of alcoholism in their lives, I have seen people who have become accustomed more to self-sabotage than working out of the act of the implosion itself. The thought process becomes one of “I’ve taken this many steps backwards, I might as well keep going” or “I don’t care enough to get myself out of this” and no amount of convincing, talking, or coercing will influence that person to get out of their “funk.”
But once we reach that absolute bottom, we can choose to do one of two things: we can continue to look at the floor and wonder aloud how we got there, or we can look up and see where we want and need to be. And in that very moment, we pivot. We go one direction or another. We cannot stay where we are, and most of us turn our heads towards the sky and try to figure out how to get out of where we are.
Every failure comes with its list of things we wish we didn’t need to feel: embarrassment, loss, guilt, and struggle, just to name a few. Some people will quickly blame others and justify their actions when looking inward is the only real way to move past this point. We all know it, but we have to get there. Again, another pivot is in the works.
We are bound to make mistakes and the purpose of learning from them is the key to minimizing the effects they have on us, even years later. How many of us have said, “I wish I knew then what I know now” wanting to use this new knowledge in a way that would better some previously made decisions? We all have.
Never look at a failure as something bad or let it become the basis of who you are. [bctt tweet=”No one is the mistake they made or the failure that occurred. “]
The sum of your life is not made up in the mistakes you have made…the sum of your life is made up in the way you have responded to those mistakes.
Expect yourself to fail at times. It is going to happen. But use those moments to learn something about the experience that will be beneficial later on. Maybe you are more cautious or even just more aware of your surroundings. Maybe you understand what steps you took to get you there and how they can be avoided, should you be tempted to go down that road once again.
But failure is not easy for anyone of us. But we can always do better. We can look up and decide that being where we are is no longer a place we want to be. It is up to us to do something about it. Wallowing in self-pity will never get us there. Only changing they way we think and what we do after that will allow us to let go of the failure and move forward. It means forgiving ourselves in moments we believe might not be forgivable, too. Because none of us is perfect.
Some of the best lessons come from the worst of circumstances and those are always good things. And good things bestow upon us success.
Michelle A. Homme 2015 ©