What We Can Learn From Failure
Hello, my sweet friends,
This has been a rock and roll time for me here in New Orleans! This past Sunday, I performed in my first improv performance with my level 1 improv group. I don't mind being on stage and speaking publicly- but improv? Not knowing anything, stepping on stage in front of strangers, and just trusting myself and my also being totally willing to fail? A whole other can of worms.
It was a beautiful exercise in trust and letting go – letting go of my expectations, of my attachment to being perfect, trusting the moment, and allowing myself to be a beginner and being vulnerable. So how did I do? Not that great. However, my team did really well. I saw how afraid I was of failing and embarrassing myself. My mind was incredibly hard on myself before I had even tried. I was stressing about how I would do days before. I even told my boyfriend he couldn't come. However, the most fascinating was seeing how much my mind was focused on failing before I had stepped foot on the stage. Although I didn't fail, it has been an invitation to think about failure and how much pressure there is to succeed.
We need to know to fail. It's one of the most essential skills we need. Fear of failure keeps us from trying new things, from listening to our intuition, from allowing ourselves to be creative or taking a leap in the world.
When we get scared of failing, our world gets smaller, more manageable and realizing that the worst-case scenario happens is the one that happens in our own brains. What happened to me was a million times worse in my head that what happened in real life. I lived a thousand deaths before I stepped foot on stage and it was a place that reminded me how hard I am on myself. I know that I'm not alone in this. We often hold ourselves to impossible standards and our intellects dive in, trying to find ground by running through a million different scenarios to help us try and find ground.
There is constant pressure to succeed. We often aren't prepped for failure. We often think of failure of something that happens outside of us –like when we're fired from our job, or can't find the right relationship, or get the promotion. We think of ourselves as inherent failures. Any botched opportunities, doing something that flops, or heart-break of any kind.
What really happens when we fail? There is a quote from James Joyce that encapsulates this – "Mistakes are the portals of discovery." When we are in it- in the midst of a breakup, or losing our job, it's easy to lose ourselves and our connection to our Spirit. The voice of our intellect shows us and critiques us, telling us that we've missed our moment, that we are failures ourselves instead of looking at the larger narrative. We don't think of them as a doorway to discovery.
For me, I saw the levels of perfection I hold myself to and how it is a silent Spirit killer. Strangling my ability to be present in the moment for the eternal "what if." But, these failures can be doorways to bigger and better things. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote Eat, Pray, Love after a failed relationship – it was the portal for her to become a best selling international author and storyteller.
When we fail, we feel bad about ourselves, but that can be an invitation to get clear on what your ego is telling you. What does your mind tell you about who you are? Are you really those things? When we get curious about the circumstances and our internal discussion, we can start to create internal room to breathe. Instead of believing, "I am bad. I am a failure" we can begin to soften and realize that we're just hurting.
We need to connect to our sweet hearts and the voice of our Spirit to listen more deeply to what it is that we need. Part of being human is being curious about our entire experience. Pain can be an invitation inwards. We have to dodge storylines that make others or ourselves entirely to blame. We have to engage our curious minds and to feel into our bodies, feel into what's hurting – to navigate reactivity, anger, escape, or numbing as a way to cope.
That space contains gold – our open, loving hearts, our bravery, compassion, kindness, vulnerability, and tenderness. There is real magic when we unguard our hearts and sink into the rawness of feeling. When we listen deeply and watch it interested detachment, we can see how much our ego minds get afraid, reactive, and how it keeps us small. We can start to see where we have unconscious patterns that block our ability to listen and trust our intuition. We have to remind our intellect that it doesn't have all the answers, that we don't have to protect our hearts, but listen curiously and deeply to what our Spirit is trying to tell us.
For me, it was a clear reminder of how much gentler I need to be with myself, and for that, I am grateful.
Sending you all my love,