My relationship with failure used to be toxic, but now we’ve reached a consensus on how often it should disrupt my life, along as to what degree it can mute my other emotions, putting fear and negativity front and center.
Confused? Let me give you a better idea.
Failure knocks on our doors, and it’s up to us to decide how we will respond to it. Some like to invite failure in and let it sit down for a while, engaging it in pleasant, but distant conversation.
Maybe we shed some tears while failure watches with stoic disinterest. It drops words of negativity here and there, hoping to stab us somehow. However, if were fully aware, we’ve known failure long enough to know these discouraging words are worthless lies.
After a while, we send failure on its way, but not without accepting its small gift of lessons and instructions. Our dreams are waiting outside for us to welcome them back inside to receive the love and nurture they need to grow and thrive.
Some of us, however, invite failure inside our homes and let it take over. There is no conversation, just disorder as failure eats all our food, lounges on our couches, and yells at us about how we’re losers and big disappointments.
We accept these lies and this pleases failure. It invites its lesser friends, negativity and discouragement. Soon more mentally disparaging guests move in and they push us back and forth among them.
The whole situation’s abusive. During this soul-crushing time, our dreams wait outside for failure and its friends to leave. Our dreams are hungry; some have been scared away while a few can’t take it anymore and die right outside our front steps.
Depending on our choices or capabilities, we try coaxing our dreams to come into our chaotic households. Sometimes we have to drag them inside because we’re stubborn and don’t want to lose them. So our dreams shuffle awkwardly through the trash and mess that failure and its gang keeps creating.
Our dreams eye failure with disdain and failure responds in kind, letting them know they have no future. Their contentious relationship makes us want to shoot them both between the eyes.
Some of us make make do with the situation, and our dreams squeezes by, but growth is stunted. We ask ourselves repeatedly why our progress is so abysmally slow.
Sometime or other we realize we need to kick failure out of our homes. We’ve cried enough. Have been abused enough. Been hurt enough. We’ve had enough of zombie walking through life and missing out on its best parts or initiating its greatest moments.
Life is everywhere, all around us, and observes our actions toward failure. Seeing our incompetence with dealing with failure, it gives failure more power over us. Failure and its emotionally-damaging companions become harder to kick out.
Some of us might misdirect our anger toward failure and channel it over to life instead. We blame life for failure’s arrival and abuse. We build more and more of this negative anger, and it comes barreling through our door. Before we know it, a twister of negative feelings rages right inside our living rooms.
We feel powerless and stuck and call on life to do something, but we’re still too angry. Life’s response? It gives anger more power, leaving us feeling more despondent than ever.
We ask ourselves whether this will be our fate forever.
At some point, some of us will realize we have several choices to make:
1. We let this twister continue ravaging our house while we continue our day-to-day activities. Those of us in this category have long allowed our dreams to hide permanently or even die. We’re resigned to our fate. And some of us are all right with that and live the best we can. That’s just life.
2. We force our dreams to grow in this chaotic house. But we might come to resent our dreams. Everything’s a struggle. Pleasure and self-fulfillment are nowhere to be found. We make minimal progress, but regress soon quickly afterwards. Some of us will conclude that we might as well settle for decision number one.
3. We confront failure and its gang head on. We’re armed and ready because failure and its allies are clever and formidable foes. And let’s not forget the twister of anger throwing everything all around and clouding our vision, making us nearly blind.
At this point, it feels like everything is against us: life, failure, ourselves, and our army of negative emotions. We have already incurred injuries and we are in desperate need of healing. Some of us are bleeding to death, holding on to life by the thinnest thread.
So how does this battle play out? Who are our allies? Do we get a useful wizard in the mix to help support our campaign against failure? Pressure mounts and we might feel incapable of engaging failure. It’s way too strong.
Some of us might soon discover by way of a friend from the outside or some other medium that we have a secret weapon. It’s a power so great and astounding that if used properly could dismiss failure and its armies without much bloodshed on our part.
What is this great source of power and how can it be used to push back against failure? It’s usually at our lowest that we come within reach of this secret weapon, which isn’t a big secret at all.
This great power is our mind.
Our minds are not visitors or objects in our houses. Our minds are the houses. Imagine a battlefield with two opposing armies. If the commander of one army could control the whole environment and make the earth swallow its enemies, victory would be quick and swift.
We possess this incredible advantage against failure and its armies. We control the environment. We control the house and can stir it awake to become a breathing, living being that snuffs out stubborn and persistent failure.
The promises held in controlling our house swell like a balloon waiting to burst. We simply need the resolve to take a pin and pop it. But how do we go about doing this?
Controlling the mind isn’t some difficult task requiring hours of concentration or training. All we have to do is find a quiet place where we can be alone and undisturbed and challenge ourselves to engage with our minds.
Thoughts will run one after the other, sometimes tripping all over each other. We may feel restless and feel like we’re wasting our time. We know better, however, and resist the urge to get up and do something we deem more valuable. We won’t be able to control the mind until we fully engage it.
We search through all the chaos up there to find the control center, to find its seat, to find our deepest selves. If we scoff at the idea of finding our deepest selves, then the trial ends. We might find no peace for the failure ruling over our lives. But if we to push aside all doubts, cynicism, and the disruptions of logical thinking, we will begin to hear our minds speaking to ourselves.
“What are you looking for?” the mind asks.
“I need peace. I want my failures to stop controlling my emotions, feelings and actions. I want to stop feeling so angry.”
“Why are you angry?”
“Because I failed even when I worked so hard.”
“Why are you angry?”
We pause in confusion. “I already told you. I failed something very important to me.”
“Why are you angry?” the mind asks again.
We think before we answer this time and go deeper. “I wanted this very badly. Too badly. I tied achievement to my worth as a person. I believed if people saw this achievement, they would respect me more. I would earn more prestige and receive accolades from the most important people in my life.
I wanted to prove the naysayers wrong and shove my victory in their faces. I wanted to show that I was right and knew what I was doing. The shame and embarrassment I feel from my failure is stopping me from trying again. I don’t want to experience these feelings again.
I don’t want to keep trying again because it drains too much energy out of me. It’s too hard and tiring. I’m so tired. Failure exhausts me. I don’t have enough confidence in my abilities, skills, talents, or myself. Sometimes, I don’t even feel like I deserve success.
I compare myself to others too much and feel contempt toward their success, which seems to come by so much easier for them. I feel crippled by my insecurities and blame others for my failures so I take my anger out on them, snapping at them and being short-tempered.
I don’t want to go to anywhere where people know me too well. I hate when they ask me questions about what I’m doing with my life. I hate that I don’t have anything solid to show them, only my aspirations and plans, things people don’t truly value.
Our society values results, not so much the process. Results. I’m so impatient for the results. I want them now. I feel defeated so I just want to do something easy, mediocre, but socially acceptable instead of pursuing my most difficult dreams.
But deep inside, it makes me feels unfulfilled to let go of my dreams and watch them die. It’s a pain deep in my soul. Sometimes I wish someone or something could save me from this pain. I wish I could be free to try again without fear or restrictions and make my dreams come true.”
“Then be free,” the mind says.
“It’s not that easy,” we protest and start listing all the things standing in our way.
Our mind ignores this list and says, “See our dreams realized. See our obstacles gone. Feel the emotions of our achievement. Feel our negative emotions and thoughts diminish. See how we help and inspire others. See the places we go. Feel our strength over failure, disappointment and rejection. See and feel. We are there. We have made it. Do you believe this? Do you believe you are free?”
We either believe we are free or we are not.
“Are you free from your insecurities? Your looping negative thoughts? What you believe people think of you? Your self-sabotaging thoughts and habits? Are you free from your twisted notions of how much you are worth?
From your family’s definition of who you are? From society’s definition of who you are? Are you free from the hurt and pain you suffered in your childhood? Your teen years? From the way you were treated, mistreated, or regarded?
You are already worthy. You are already powerful. You are already important. Do you believe this? Are you free?” the mind asks again.
“Am I free?” we ask ourselves honestly. “No, some of these things still have a hold on me, still bind me. I am not completely free. I am not free.”
“Good to know. Now that I know you are not free, we will work together to set you free so that we may be free together. When we are free together, we will always keep moving and never stay stuck.”
Our honesty has given our minds the signal to begin purging failure and its companions out of our house. It can be a long process, but with patience and persistence, we help our mind by engaging with it regularly.
These ongoing appointments give our mind more of the valuable information and transparency it needs to get the job done. During this time, we might witness our most ugly sides or our greatest fears.
Although they’re large and unmanageable at first, our mind weakens their hold on us, compressing them into small tiny blocks. We can push them aside to make room for more positive and self-affirming emotions and feelings.
The negative or traumatic experiences that have helped form us as individuals don’t disappear. However, with our help, our minds compress them into small manageable units as well.
Finally, our dreams have the ideal environment to receive the necessary support and nurture from our minds.
Our process, our everyday living, is no longer something we shun or try to escape by way of the past, future, or other outlets.
We come to enjoy the process and derive peace and happiness from it. We live fully in the present, and our dreams thanks us for it.
When failure comes knocking again, we don’t ignore it because its lessons and instructions are too important. We let it in, understand it, and send it on its way. Our houses have finally become pleasant places to live.
The present has finally become a pleasant place to live.