Blog 036 Failure to Me

By Mana Williams  15 Minutes

Let’s stop real quick and think about failure and what it actually means to fail from my point of view. Think about what it does to us and how it affects our lives for a second. Take time out from our heavy Monday to reflect again because Saturday and Sunday are not the only day’s of the week we need to stop and think. Our shit is on flowing so we need to step it up every day of the week. In this chat, I’m going to share a few insights into failing and really get down to the guts of it and decide whether a failure is a bad thing or a good thing, and how it can be used for positive reinforcement. In the hopes that at least somebody out there will be able to benefit from these words in some way shape or form.

What is failure?

Take a step back from an occasion you failed something and ask whether it was your fault. Now stop. It’s so easy to get caught up in that feeling because it’s like juggling a monkey and three banana’s, you’re starting at the produce department trying to find the milk section. Failing something is never a bad thing. The word fail is to not yet have successfully achieved something. It’s meaning is opportunistic, you can get there. Without letting this turn into a self-motivational talk, let’s be real about this and actually look into how failure contends with my belief systems.

When I took year 12, 6th form or 11th grade, Chemistry in school. There was nothing I liked about the class apart from the idea that I would be able to take engineering in University. It was a pretty cushy class but for some unknown reason, I found myself hugely anxious when it came to sitting assessments or indeed exams. The whole class was ruined because I wasn’t able to find the courage within myself to just simply study and reach a state where it was comfortable to sit in an environment and feel confident enough to know that it was possible to pass. But it wasn’t a reality for me. In hindsight, my perception of why it was such a massive challenge basically comes down to the shame of failing the exam. That analytically it was never the failing that caused the limbo but it was more the anticipation of the shame it would cause, failure was just the figment in front of it. Low and behold it wasn’t long thereafter until failure occurred, and it really struck me this anxiety that started out from nothing which developed into real and tangible results. It was such a massive learning curve for me.

So what does the fear of failing look like?

When I woke up this morning, went to my classes and came home to begin studying, I felt this overwhelming anxiety kind of like writer’s block and I just didn’t feel like working. I’m always usually in work mode but today was a bit bleaker than yesterday. That if I didn’t complete my work it might somehow lead to the failure of an entire class, that this failure would be met with unrelenting shame on my achievements and everything goes pear shaped relatively quickly. Shame is the ultimate fallacy that urges us to fear failure. it inhabits our lifestyle if we let it grow on us, like a mold on the roof of a bathroom. It won’t go away unless you are actively minimizing the fear of it.  The shame your parents might bare if you don’t pass a course, the shame your friends might have towards you if you didn’t manage the try. It’s the shame that is psychologically disabling some people from achieving success. Fearing failure is like being scared of boarding a bus to go somewhere and learn something.

Here’s a quick analogy.

The fear of failure is the anticipation of shit weather. Shame is the rain, wind, and lightning that weather brings. Rather than concerning yourself with the rain, learn how to be content within yourself and know that you have got what it takes to ride out the bad weather. Like a little bungalow I guess, some kind of ranch built out of hard work and nails. To be bold and strong under the thick and dense weather. So much so that you hardly even take notice to it. There was one time when I was flying out of Christchurch and we had this whole week of persistent rain. I remember feeling real crap about my whole day and that nothing was going to make things better, but as soon as we flew above all of the clouds into all of the blue fresh skies I couldn’t help but feel how stupid the whole situation was. Just to be able to really zoom out of all of the drama, all of the anxiety and feel way better about me. I guess, in essence, that is the imagery I’m trying to get across. That simple effortless perspective change is all that is needed to overcome the fear of stuffing up. Subsequently, the fear of shaming yourself in front of your friends and family. To be able to say, “Well actually there’s no shame in what I’m doing, I’m so much better than this.”

There’s usually more to the story.

It’s got something to do with our other friend, rejection. The fear to be shunted operates in tandem with shame. But that’s a talk had for another day… At the end of the day what matters is that you actively engage yourself in these sorts of perspective changes. That you recognize the significance of not taking ownership for the battles that go on in your head. it can be as simple as the weather pattern making you feel upset or antsy. Ultimately, it’s down to you to make your change, but in my experience, finding positivity in every opportunity even if that is failing at something is a huge learning curve.

That’s today’s little chat, it’s not been a great day but I’m super stoked to get this content out there because it’s my first relevant post about some symptoms I’ve been experiencing lately. I hope this in some way has helped someone, but if not I’ll try again harder tomorrow. And as always…

Thanks for checking in…

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