The practice of failure
I don’t like to fail. Whenever I fail at something I feel like I will never accomplish anything in my life. My mind is filled with negative self talk. It is a feeling that brings me down and makes me unproductive. But why is that? Why is it so important to never fail? And what is failure, anyway?
If we go to the dictionary, failure is defined as “lack of success” or “a state of inability to perform a normal function”. So, failure is like the opposite of success and everybody wants to be successful, right? Yeah, we are taught to crave perfection and we are bombarded with this message all the time.
But I think we need to practice failure. I want to be able to say, without shame or fear, that “I am good at failing”. We all learn from our mistakes, right?
Why do I dislike failure?
The idea of failure makes me insecure. If I have a plan and suddenly that plan has to be canceled or postponed I loose confidence on my planning. I know planning is not made to be static but I enjoy certainty. And that’s why I run away from failure: my need of security makes me not want to fail.
I also have a fear of discomfort. Leaving our comfort zones requires courage and the ability to accept change and, consequently, failure.
I do not like being vulnerable. I do not like to expose myself. And maybe that is only a reflection of my introvert self. I have a loud mind and small failures can become huge disasters inside my head.
The path to practice failure
So, my mind does not accept failure lightly. It is hard for me to give space to imperfection. I feel like I struggle to be imperfect.
When I say “imperfect” I do not mean something bad or unacceptable, just something real and authentic. The media nowadays sells us a notion of perfection that is artificial. We do not need the perfect car, or the perfect house, or the perfect appearance to be happy.
But after acknowledging that I want to change my perfectionist mindset, I have started to practice failure and be okay with it. I am learning to enjoy imperfect experiences. I am letting go of my “perfectionist” self.
Our notion of “perfection” can vary. A perfect weekend for me may not be the same for you. Perfection does not exist in reality, right? It is just a matter of what is your reference. And when we start to believe that the reference for perfection is what the media sells us, then we start to crave the impossible. And I want out of this vicious cycle!
Things that help me practice failure
I reflected on the things that challenge me. They were often a synonym for failure inside my head. Now I embrace them and here’s why:
Yoga has helped me with anxiety and stress at first. Then, as my practice evolved, I realized that I started to accept myself. Both the good and the bad side. And I learned to fall, and get back up again. Fail, and try again. I understood that growth is a process and that it is no big deal to fall flat on my face while trying to maintain a crow pose.
It practically meant total failure for me when I started. I have been trying to do it since 2012. I am not a native English speaker. So it is challenging to me. How could I ever be good at it? Sometimes I can’t find the right way to express myself and some sentences come out awkward. But I am learning to let go, and permitting the awkwardness be part of my style.
It is really hard to meditate if you think that you need to empty your mind in order to achieve it. We can never empty our minds, so meditation is a state where we, for instance, focus on our breath, in and out, in and out. Our minds will wander, and when it does, it’s okay, it’s normal, we just have to go back to the breaths. It is a constant learning process, where you fail (loose concentration on the breath) and then return to it. So meditation helped me accept that I can fail, smile, accept it and try again.
Bike to work:
I used to feel extremely anxious and nervous when I got out to bike in the city. It is hard. I am not a skillful biker. I even wrote about it here. I am afraid of traffic. But I wanted to start the habit of biking to work. I live in a lovely city by the sea so I wanted to enjoy the landscape and feel great before my daily work. I learned to fail in the beginning and kept going.
By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, skeptic. I don't leave without my Kindle.