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Recently, I’ve been grappling with the idea that failure is not actually something to run and hide from.
It is the opposite.
Failure is something that we should be running toward with open arms and inviting in for a hug.
Failure is like an old friend to us all. One that we are all familiar with, yet one that we normally hide and duck from in the aisles of the grocery store.
Why is this?
Why are we so afraid of failing?
Now really stop and think about this.
What will truly happen if you fail?
I mean really, really fail. What is the worst that could happen?
Most of us are not really afraid of failure itself, but more of what it feels like to fail and what it means to fail.
Society teaches us to not only run away from failure but also our feelings about failure.
When we were in school, we were taught that failing or receiving an F on something was the worst possible thing that could happen to us.
I remember failing quite often. In the first semester of my undergraduate degree, I failed not one, but two classes.
I remember feeling mortified. I hid this dirty little secret in my back pocket. I felt so much shame about this and did not want anyone finding out that I was a capital L Loser.
Yes, I will admit that it wasn’t my finest moment and it sucked having to repeat two classes later on. But guess what? I didn’t die. I also gained something important from that failure: lessons.
Lessons are so important for us to be cultivating, especially in our adult years. So many of us think that once we graduate from academic institutions that we are done with our learning.
Learning has actually just begun and failure is the pathway to this learning.
I like to think about our lives like a school of sorts, but ones with fewer rules and rigidity. (If we want them to be that is). We are constantly testing and experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t work within our day-to-day existence.
From here, we can decide for ourselves what lessons we want to take with us and what information we need to leave behind. This is the beauty of lifelong learning and failure. Without it, we would not learn a damn thing! Without learning, there is no room for growth.
If we could simply get over our fears around failure then I believe that we would be limitless. Come back to your thinking self for a minute here. If you were okay with failing, what would you do?
If you knew that you would be successful in your endeavors, what action would you take?
The path to success is always one paved in failure. If you’re not failing, then you’re most likely not putting yourself into the ring of what it means to truly be living, creating, and dismantling.
One way to get over this fear of failure is to practice failing. This might be scary at first, and honestly, who wants to do anything they know they will fail at?
However, with practice you will be able to move through whatever arises when you “fail.” You will be able to take the judgments, opinions, and criticisms of others (and yourself) that will come with failure and know that you are anything but a failure. You are someone who is truly engaging in a co-creative process with life, and with each failure, you gain the ability to be able to bounce back and keep going.
I challenge you all to go out there and fail and keep failing! Notice what comes up for you. Be open and curious as well as withhold any judgments that may arise. Be compassionate with yourself as failing is tough for all of us (myself included). As you keep failing and remaining open to this process of failing, you will begin to notice the differences (perhaps subtle at first) between when you first embarked on your failure journey to becoming lifelong besties with failure. It may then seem that failure is not the enemy—but your greatest ally.
It is through failure that we discover how resilient we are. When we become okay with our failures we also become okay with the failures of others. We become more compassionate and authentic about what we really want for our lives and what actions we want to take to get there.
Failure is not something to run from; it is a natural part of the cycle of what it means to exist as a human. When we can shift our perspective on failure, we can see that it is not something to be ashamed of, but something to be celebrated.
For failure means we are on the path to something even greater.