Failure is another point of data. Learning something. Gaining information. Information that informs.
It's not about ribbons and trophies for everyone, high fives and good jobs not matter what, you'll get 'em next time tiger. You can mess up. We all do.
It is about digestion. How we treat ourselves in the aftermath of 'whatever' that determines whether we spiral downward or saddle back up, whether or not we actually succumb to failure.
We sabotage ourselves if we hold parts of ourselves back in the aftershock of perceived failure. Our inner critic can be brutal. Not sure about y'all, but my friends would not put up with me if I talked to them the way we so often talk to ourselves. So why it is okay that we do it? I don't think it is. The circular downward force of our scolding finds us waist-deep, head-deep in a hole. And it probably won't be a hole we'll realize we dug.
OR maybe we do get back up and into the game, but only at 60 percent. The rest of our mental energy, needed as much as our physical energy, is hung up on the spin-cycle in the background. And that hyperactive inner critic in the guise of our true inner voice is telling us, "you can try to make this shot, but you're going to miss it. You can try to ask for that raise, but you're not going to get it. You can try to talk to your friend/familymember/spouse/child/boss/whoeverelse, but they're not going to hear you. YOU CAN'T DO IT."
Like Frieda, in treating every failure like big time, it creates a pattern of response that sets us up for harder times than we need to struggle through. "Great, just another way to fail." No, just a data point to clue in on. Our lens distorted, we can no longer see which is a pebble and which is a boulder. They all become boulders. "I'm stupid, I'm so dumb, I can't believe I said that (still thinking of that comment two days later, three days later, four weeks later). I made the worst first impression, I'm so incompetent." Let's rename permanently our inner critic for what it is - our inner bully. And the rock slide gets bigger and gains momentum and soon we're all Friedas. We're failing at everything, all the time. The dust never settles.
Failure isn't the event or situation or season. Those are data points. Did I fail to pay my electric bill, yeah, that's happened. Did I wake up one day, show up at my counselor's office and flatly inquire what I could leave with - I doubt I was the first. Did my joints decide to revolt, a Merriam Webster Failure Class 3B I believe, something like that.
Everything is connected, energy in motion. There is always a consequence be it good, bad or indifferent. Negative consequences can derail our psyches if we allow it. Our inner bully loves the overtime. To me, the only failure that does occur happens inside our response, or often our not so great reaction, in our metabolism of whatever the event or situation or season. We have to lean how to eat. Sometimes we react out of pattern or autopilot, ways we've learned to deal and cope. That's what being with ourselves, really really, is about. Only once you get to a place of recognition, of seeing, can you do the hard, soul-work to make healthy adjustments.
Data points does not mean not taking responsibility. Let's be clear. Things that happen can be our fault. Living those consequences can sting. We don't have to resort to self-baratement but it's a hard cycle to break. We've been conditioned over our entire lives. It's not a one-fault we can point and lay blame to; it comes from innumerable sources in society, it comes from our super-ego. It takes work but if we can sit with and process the moment, as awkward and unpleasant as it probably will be, we can train our inner bully to shut the hell up.
Honestly, this is something quite profound. We are training ourselves to see a situation closer to how it was/is rather than how we are perceiving it was/is, which has been clouded by our inner bully. We are teaching ourselves to come back to the most beautiful, freeing and undeniable characteristic that connects every single person on this planet, no matter shape, size, color or orientation. Or religion. Did I get them all? Or origin. What else? Drum roll ----- We're human!
As humans, WE ALL have moments. WE ALL have fuck ups. We say jokes that fall flat. We deal with perfectionism, control, addiction, unhealthy coping, judgments that don't line up and all the consequential fallouts and invariably so much more. Our past, our patterns, our perceptions, our pains - are the cocktails of shit we get to work with. Super fun folks, but it's what we get and it's a beautiful mess.
Ever notice a person who exudes positivity and go-get-umness and tenacity and energy and gumption and they'd be the one you'd want to lead you up and down a mountain or in a some nuclear, dinosaur-on-the-loose crisis? They roll. They go, "k, that didn't go as planned, let's try this." They don't seem to hit the same speed bumps, or get hit by the boulders. They don't seem to dwell. They slough off and move forward. What's up with that?
We have to send our inner bully packing. We need to hear our own real voice. Can you recognize it?
Gone the ways of the appendix and pinkie toe, the failure muscle is a defunct mass of sinew. There's just no need for it. The muscles we do need - Resilience. Response. Self-grace. Self-compassion. Other-grace. Other-Compassion. They get stronger with practice. Build those muscles, add them to the circuit. That practice comes every time we catch ourselves in the moment, in real time and reframe through recognizing ourselves living the human condition, just like everyone else. Our humanness. That we all enjoy. And sometimes don't enjoy.
Data point processing goes hand in hand with self-acceptance. When worry about the outcome is gone, other than what you can learn in and through the attempt and outcome, there is no holding back. No need. Whether you cook or paint or woodwork or sculpt or sing or play an instrument or calculate or create or write or anything else - the process and expression is a beautiful up and down journey of data collection and analysis.
Successes are to be celebrated and certainly enjoyed, within the context of the undoubted undulation of life, ad infinitum. Even if you try your best, it's not always going to work out according to plan. That's okay. It's always going to be an adventure, that's for sure. The best stories stem from things gone awry. It's all just data points and nothing else.
Frieda has been doing difficult soul-work. She's realized failures are data points. Checking in on Frieda this time feels different. She's about to begin her tirade of self-scolding when she remembers what she's been working on and trying to change and so she tries something new:
What a day. Some tough moments, some embarrassing moments, some frustrating moments. But - I'm human. We all have these moments. I was late again today but I rocked in that meeting. I had my notes and was prepared and it felt great. I started to mindlessly eat a donut because it was there but I didn't get upset with myself and figure I'd blown my diet another day so what was the point and eat three more. I tossed it after one bite. That felt great too. I caught myself in real time. I can celebrate the ways I am recognizing the work I'm putting in. Yeah, a good day.