Space to Fail

If you’re anything like me, sometimes it can be hard to deal with failure. Whether it’s work, personal, or in a relationship, I take my failures particularly hard. And when the failure results as the consequence of my own actions, I can beat myself up about it relentlessly. How could I have been so stupid? Why didn’t I think of that? Why did I say that? And it becomes a cyclical thing that goes round and round in my head in obsessive patterns.

We’ve been so conditioned by our school and work life to always be right and avoid failure at all costs. But failure is part of any organic learning process. When we don’t make room for failure, we limit ourselves to the knowledge we have accessible to us and don’t explore our own learning and growth needs.

A friend sent me an article today and mentioned that it contained some of the advice she wished she had back in her 20’s (and boy aren’t 20’s just the hardest!?!?). In this short downloadable article by Jeanne Nangle, this line stood out to me:

“Think of yourself as a whole person, with both light and dark, and have an interest in getting to know that person.”

Wow. We don’t always want to acknowledge that we all have some dark sides of ourselves: the sad parts, the mad parts, the ugly parts, and so much more. How often do we only want to focus on the “light” parts, and criticize the dark?

Are we not the sum of all our actions and thoughts, and isn’t there a constant ebb and flow as we learn and grow? Can we instead make space for the dark parts, and give ourselves the grace to have failure as part of our process and let go of the pain we automatically associate with it. Can failure instead be the exciting moment where we celebrate that we may not have the answer yet, but we are one step closer to knowing what isn’t the answer?

I’m lucky to have many people in my life that constantly remind me that failure is not the tragedy I can make it out to be. We all need reminders, so let this blog serve as your reminder this week to celebrate your failures because it means you’re that much closer to your truth.

Engagement: What is a failure you experienced that seemed terrible in the moment, but caused the most growth for you?


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