First, an example of “flipping the switch” of perception…also a good laugh!
Becoming A Successful Failure:
There is a beautiful architectural firm in New York City where the employees have used one large wall to create an inverted mosiac basically spelling out “Fail Big”. It’s easy enough to learn from our successes. Just do what we did…again. But when faced with our failures, instead of brainstorming like our feathered friend for solutions outside the box, how often do we let the shame control us and try to do damage control and forget the incident?
Let’s take a “perceptual shift” break. Failure can be your best teacher. Like Edison, knowing the 1,000 methods that don’t work frees the space to be aware of what NOT to do and start brainstorming for the next untried step. Regret is the toxic Mara, filtering the way we experience our failures with shame colored glasses instead of the clear vision of valuable knowledge acquired.
A brief personal example:
I’ve wanted to have children and a family as long as I can remember – as early as 6 or 7. Finding myself attracted to women and not men was the first hurdle I encountered on this quest but just a small bump in the road. Meeting a soulmate that really didn’t like kids, again small stuff. Years of convincing her to start a family, a pretty big challenge but finally accomplished. Then 6 months later, my “break/diagnosis” and all possibility of having or adopting went right out the window (2nd gen bipolar, bad genes!).
Hormones are nasty! The overwhelming physical and emotional desire for children, the agony when looking at babies or happy families, has haunted me for years. The abject feelings of failure as a woman have been even worse, along with berating myself for developing this condition and hating my mother for passing it down. But, after wasting at least 12 years periodically flaying myself, I had an epiphany last night.
As it’s happened lately, it was the result of brainstorming today’s blog topic. I have failed over and over again at letting go of the kid thing. No amount of therapy, radical acceptance, or forgiveness mediation has helped. But finally learning from these failed methods and approaching the issue from the other side was the answer. Instead of “I’m a failure as a woman, as a human being, for having this condition and choosing not to have children because of the real possibility of handing it down”, I flipped it to “I choose to consider the impact my condition would have on an innocent child, as well as my relationship. I choose to be a decent human being and prevent the pain, confusion, and negative impact my condition would have on a child. I choose not to put an innocent through what I went through as a child myself and perpetuate the cycle. I choose to do the decent thing, the unselfish thing, and allow that child the best chance at a happy life, in a healthy environment. I choose to put someone else’s basic needs above my own desires. No matter how painful these choices have been and are, in making them, I am a decent and good person.”
All the years of background work and the courage to try a radical perceptual flip allowed me to finally embrace reality. What’s amazing is how the pain and regret intensity has decreased. There’s even a bit of acceptance and peace now.
This type of thinking – flipping your usual script over and approaching whatever the failure/s are from another perspective – is so liberating! Once you realize your failures are actually opportunities and start to let go of the negative emotions associated with them, you get out of your own way. This may seem quite obvious, but I spent 12 years in obvious. Sometimes we have to get radical.
Take just 1 failure. Think beyond how and what happened and dig deeper. Were there any outside influences that contributed to it? Any individuals that played a part or even steered you towards taking the action or making the decision, even with the best intentions? Any other outside influences or thought patterns?
Go down to the kernal and think about even the most minute good that came out of the experience. Celebrate your humanity – the fact that you are capable of thought and action at all, regardless of the result. Then file it in the lesson’s learned and let go of the emotional baggage! We all fall down. It’s the getting up and growing up that defines us. Embrace that definition because it also applies to you!