Today I am reminded that failure is more about perception and beliefs than reality. In the same way mistakes are learning opportunities, failure also offers chances to learn and improve for “next time”. Because there will always be a “next time”.
Since I made the decision to move and then followed up by moving, I’ve experienced many mistakes and failures. Shame has been a companion as I tried and failed to become part of interesting groups or clubs. Sadness came from an application that got denied. Anger and frustration from being railroaded/blocked/ignored by people while trying to achieve goals and objectives.
PROCESSING INFORMATION (coping strategy)
My previous therapist used to ask me what I learned from each experience. And then we talked through or “processed” my thoughts and feelings. It was during the “processing” part that my imagination and problem-solving skills engaged. We discussed options:
- next steps
- what didn’t work and why
- what did work and why
- and (most important) how could I change my words and actions to achieve the goal?
SHAME & SHAME RESILIENCE
And one night when the shame of past experiences overwhelmed me, I called the hotline asking for help. I didn’t want to give in to self-harm or OCD compulsions to put myself in reckless, dangerous situations. The pressure inside kept building up squeezing my chest and head until I couldn’t think or feel. And the hotline volunteer talked to me about shame. About resilience. About research into coping strategies and something called “Shame Resilience”.
The counselor offered a TED Talk by Brene Brown as a coping strategy. I was so moved by the TED Talk that I followed the link to her other TED Talks. Then looked her up online and found her books. My goal was to learn more about her knowledge and perspective of shame. But then I started reading her book. The topics sparked connections in my brain. But it was the opening quote that pulled the connections together.
Connections that helped me understand why I kept going, kept trying, kept living in spite of the shame and the doubters working so hard to make me stop.
THE QUOTE FROM “Man in the Arena”
I’d rather try and fail; apply and be denied; live and make mistakes than stand aside and watch the world move around me. How will I know if I can do something unless I try? Life is an experiment. Success or failure, each one is a chance to learn.
So maybe this time I failed or was denied acceptance into a program/group/etc. That only means I’m not ready yet. There is more to learn and experience. And next time I will succeed.
Which next time? Maybe the second, maybe the fifth – doesn’t matter as long as I keep on trying.
Failure really isn’t failure if I learn something same way mistakes are opportunities to learn (Thanks Mrs. O from 7th grade math)
If I did everything possible to succeed and failed because of circumstances beyond my control, is that failure or success?
I chose the “Man in the Arena” quote because it reminded me to live full throttle and not listen to the critics in the stands. What do they know about living in the arena?
I hope this inspires you all to live full throttle too.
Thanks for reading.