At some point, I simply stopped writing.
My inner critic stood in my way. Her voice, harsh and painful, reiterating my darkest fears of ‘what if?’.
Every time I sat down to write, she immediately began criticizing my efforts reminding me of my failures. The last year was one of the hardest of my life and my inner critic shut me down. I struggled to accept a truth: my marriage had failed.
But that did not mean I was a failure. Some things are bound to fail. Sometimes, it’s truly the best thing to happen.
For a while, creative endeavors that once fed my soul, seemed impossible to complete. I was running but with no sense of direction. Every time I sat to pour out the words, I remained still silently recounting my fears. My inner critic paralyzed my ability to move forward; for a little while, she won.
Failure leads to the Greatest Success.
This is a hard concept to grasp when in the throws of a major life crisis. We operate on survival mode maintaining our daily lives.
I maintained a sense of ‘normalcy‘ for my daughter when her father moved out. He wasn’t around much anyway. His new career in law enforcement had him working all hours and when he wasn’t working, he was asleep or who knows where… It was hard to accept, but I knew I needed more than what I was getting.
My situation had to change.
Our daughter was quickly turning from clumsy toddler, to an independent thinking child. The tension in the air was palpable and she was always encouraging ‘family hugs‘. But we hadn’t functioned as a team in almost a decade and whatever we once were together had long ago disappeared.
When he said he was moving out, I found myself beginning the journey into remembering who I was and the dreams I once had. I needed time to mourn the death of one dream and time to welcome another.
Accept failure then MOVE forward
I’ve spent the last year re-evaluating before stepping into the future. My harsh inner critic, still stands there, reminding me of all those times I’ve failed, telling me I am still that scared little girl who’s afraid to take a chance on herself.
But I am pushing forward, taking deep breaths and starting again.
I am not defined by others. I will no longer Justify, Apologize, Defend or Explain my actions. I am an artist. I am a mother. I am determined; therefore, this is not the end of my story. This is just the beginning.
‘Try and fail but never fail to try.’ -Steven Kaggwa
Four tips to help push forward after failure
I poured through some websites online to grab a few gems as I worked through this process. I found this by Charles Franklin via www.mindofawinner.com.
- Acceptance: Don’t sugarcoat failure. It feels like crap and it should. Don’t deny or ignore the feelings you have on failing. They are key in motivating you to try again or try differently. Give yourself some time for your brain to process what happened.
- Control: Take stock of what you have left. Not every failure is final, nor is every final complete. Take a minute to see what failure actually means to you in this moment. Realize that your meaning of failure will change with time, but address any urgent issues or questions you have now.
- Trust: Believe in your brain. Failure only has the meaning we ascribe to. In other words, the fact that you didn’t get that client, that business, or that relationship doesn’t mean you failed. We tell our brain that we failed. Because we are the person that defines failure, we can also redefine if we allow our brains to do its work of asking questions and seeking answers.
- Lean In. Wonder about your failure. Pema Chodron, a Buddhist teacher and author, offers a very unique way to understand failure in her book, “Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better”. In that book, Chordon suggests that we deal with the uncertainty of fear with questions. Failure doesn’t tell you what will happen the next minute, next hour, or the next year. It can only tell what happened before. Because of that, your failure does not impact what can happen next. Take some time to wonder, “What does this mean?” and see what comes to mind.
These four observations represent a pathway from failure to lesson.
We first have to accept what’s going on, control what he have left, using that control to build trust and wonder. It was that process, unintentionally, while trying to redefine myself from scratch. Learning that it was OK for me to take some time to redefine my failure into a lesson gave me the insight I needed to actually learn from my failures.
We’ll all failed in life… in SOME form or another.
When reviewing these failures, what did you learn about yourself? Was your process going from failure to learning the same or did you encounter something different?
Failure can be the road to self discovery if you ask questions!
Until Next Time-