Tuesday, December 20, 2011


When you fail at something, don't put yourself down. Instead...

1. Give yourself due credit for making the effort. We often overlook the importance of continually challenging ourselves with making new attempts at things, to keep trying, to invariably hurt ourselves in the process. The worst possible response is being immobilized, by fear of pain, that you stop trying at all.

2. Redirect your attention on what you experienced: what can be learned from the failure. Learning is good! Learning helps you grow. You stand to gain from every non-success.

3. Mindfulness: the key is to recognize the irrationally negative thoughts as what they are - irrational. Shying away from experiencing the discomfort of pain saps your energy and focus from learning something useful from life's little experiments. Sit quietly next to your fears. Hear the little voice that nags in doubt. Remember that you are not your thoughts. Acknowledge them as they are. Move on.

4. Of course, this is hard to do; but that's part of the fun in the challenge. At the bottom line, you are no worse off most of the time; so even if success is not yet on the horizon, you are still in net positive gain!

(In retrospect, I cringe at all the berating I put my younger self through - for trying new things and failing, or for setting the bar so high that failure could only be expected. Emotional self-abuse through misguided internal dialogue. How bizarre that we convince kids, however unintentionally [How Not to Talk to Your Kids], that they mustn't fail?)

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