Failure. It’s a flat feeling word associated with a sense of defeat, deficiency, and doom. We experience failures in small ways…we burn that grilled cheese sandwich we were looking forward to. We forget a friend’s birthday, lose our keys, get a ticket when we can least afford an unexpected expense. We experience failures in big ways, the loss of something we’d hoped for, a relationship lasting, a job getting better… we break a promise to ourselves. Sometimes there is no one event that triggers a sense of failure. Instead we experience a pervasive sense that we are just not going to have success in life.
There are times in our lives when we are unable to achieve what we’d hoped despite our best efforts, when it’s all we can do keep the tears from rolling down in utter frustration.
What balm can be applied when failure can feel like the deepest cut? If you are struggling with failure today, my heart goes out to you. Here are some ideas that I hope bring you some comfort:
Breath. If you are having a level 10 meltdown day and it’s all you can do to get out of bed. Just breath. Observe your breath bringing life giving oxygen in and exhaling out life giving carbon dioxide that nourishes green and growing things. If nothing else for today, you can still be a part of the ecosystem of life.
Think of someone who loves you, someone you feel safe with, who you feel has your best interests at heart, a friend, a relative, a lover, a teacher, or coach. If you are feeling stuck, think of a role model, an inspirational actor you admire, a religious figure you respect, or an ancestor. Imagine what they would say to you. How would they be with you? What words of encouragement would they use?
In your circumstances, what is the most ethical, compassionate baby step you can take toward corrective action? Feelings of helplessness feed failure. Resist and remember your abilities and your values. Is an apology in order? Is the apology to yourself or another? Have you been breaking promises to yourself because you’ve been pushing yourself too hard?
I hope you find some solace in these ideas. I will end with this quote by Norman Fischer, Buddhist Teacher,
”It’s hard being a human being. There’s a lot to it. There really is. So I want to say, in conclusion, let’s all agree to accept the reality that we are not going to be able to do a very good job of this. There’s too much to do.”