P.S. It’s Not Failure, It Shows Growth & Learning
One thing I’ve battled throughout life is believing that having to change my mind about something or changing directions from a path I had chosen meant that I was a failure. There are at least 3 things that immediately come to mind when I reflect on that thought process. Can you point them out? Read on to see if you see what I see and if you do, please post your comments. If you see more, awesome, do share! And lastly, please feel free to share your experience with this challenge. Your struggles, like mine, help others to get through their own.
The subtle language behind self-abuse, sabotage, beating yourself up…
Now, where was I? Oh yes, change and failure. The words are so subtle that you may not even notice them until you develop an awareness of their sneaky tricks keeping you stuck and doubting your judgement.
It may sound like the following:
1. If I stop now, I’ve wasted all that time doing ________
2. If I change now, what will people think of me?
3. This isn’t working but I don’t want to have to start over
4. I can’t believe how dumb I was to do or start this, what was I thinking?
5. I can’t believe I thought I could do_____
6. I’ve been in this relationship for ______years, what would my friends and family think if we broke up or divorced…
Do any of those sound familiar? Do you notice a common theme? Thoughts similar to these tend to come up when anything in life happens that may require a shift (i.e. in relationships, new job, job loss, businesses). Change is uncomfortable and can make you question yourself and judgement. Some may argue that the statements above are reflective and objective, learning from decisions. However, review them again. Would you say that to or think like that about a friend of yours? Notice how subtle some of them are?
Why beating yourself up doesn’t work
Here’s what I know and what I’ve had to put into practice. (Don’t get me wrong, because I’m naturally determined and don’t give up easily, I still encounter this scenario but in a different way…that’s another blog post)
What I know and have learned is that, statements like that are mostly steeped in self judgement and berates the very core of your being. They don’t allow you room to breathe and think through what’s going on. And they tend to be expressions of shame. When you feel shame, what direction do you move? Certainly not forward.
How to stop beating yourself up
I want to try a little visualization based on a cliché that we all know, hindsight is 20/20.
First: Think of a decision you’ve made that you needed to change later on after learning more about the situation.
Now: Pretend you grow an inch taller every time you learn something new. So, when you made that decision, let’s say you were 10 inches shorter than you are now.
Close your eyes and picture the 10 inches shorter you facing 10 inches taller you. Can you see it? Now, ff who you are today (taller, and armed with more knowledge) beats up on who you were when you first made that decision, doesn’t that make you a bully? I mean, you’re saying mean things and you’re bigger, right? Just a thought, a perspective to consider.
Another came to mind as I was typing the above. Playing the “shoulda” or the “what if” game against yourself isn’t a fair play. It’s like a pro playing with all his might against an amateur. He knows more, he’s been doing it longer and has more knowledge, he’s probably even stronger, older, wiser.
Okay, I’m done with the visualizations and metaphors and such for now. So how do you stop beating yourself up? Here are some tips.
1. Show some compassion and understanding to yourself. You made the best decision based on what you knew at that moment. Kudos to you for not only deciding but taking action on that decision!
2. Revisit your definition or perspective of failure. I created a new perspective of failure. Maybe it will help to think of it this way for you too.
3. Treat your human self as you would your human friends and family when they are considering changing course. What do you do? You ask supportive questions or just give a listening ear so that they can work through their change. You want what’s best for them. You should want the same for you too.
If you’re looking to do true reflective statements, understand that they should motivate or inspire you to move forward, not keep you stuck in a loop of frustration and despair. Frustration and Focus can’t reside in the same space. Focus is what’s going to help you create that transition you’re trying to make.
This activity may be a challenge at first. If it is, that’s okay. I have a little hack that I use with my clients (and on myself) to keep us focus on the goal at hand. If you find that you notice more than you had, that’s progress. If you think you could use a little help during your transition, I offer monthly, 3-month, 6-month, and 12-month coaching packages. Book yourself for a risk-free discovery call by clicking HERE.
Oh, what, oh, right, the 3 things that came to mind from that belief I had…here’s what I thought about:
1. My definition of failure needed to be readdressed
2. I’m not my actions. “Failing” at something doesn’t make me a failure personally
3. My belief system (which combines the above statements1 and 2 mentioned above and other aspects of life) needed some rewiring.
Did you pick up on any of these? If so, high five! If not, high five to you too because now you’re more aware. You’ll be able to pick up on it. Once that happens, shift is right around the corner.
Till next time my lights,