How is this helping me grow?
How is this happening for me, not to me?
How is this helping me live my purpose?
These are the questions that I have on a post it note on my desk.
These are the questions I refer to often as reminders that Yes, the Universe does have my back.
These are the questions that I reference when I've failed at something or something just didn't go my way.
This past weekend, I failed at something. I competed in a big air kiteboarding competition (which, to be fair, is not my strong suit) and I failed--big time. I sent some jumps and took more than a few hard crashes. I left the water feeling depressed, sad, anxious to have had so many eyes watch me fail and feeling honestly pretty sorry for myself.
It's not easy to try something new and be bad at it.
Our egos don't like it and it's painful. That's why it's called the comfort zone. You're used to it, you can do it, it's familiar.
The ego tries to keep us in our comfort zones because that's familiar--we know that it's like there. But the only way to grow and expand is to get out of the comfort zone, and yes, fail at something.
So how is it that we allow ourselves to be a beginner and not let ourselves get so tied up in feeling bad when we fail?
#1 Allow yourself to be upset. The first step is always to feel the feelings. If you've tried something and failed at it, you might feel bad--and that's ok! Let yourself cry! Let yourself be mad! Fall apart for a minute. Letting the emotions out allows them to move through you and not get stored in the body.
#2 Ask questions. Now that you've let it all out, it's time to self-soothe and get curious. Pull out a journal, sit in a meditation, get quiet and ask "Why am I so upset by this?" Is it because you were brought up in an environment where you were punished if you weren't perfect? Is it because you really wanted that job and now you feel like you're back to square one? Why is the job important? See if you can get to the core of why you're upset and then just sit with that. Are the stories you're telling yourself true? Can you hold them a little more loosely?
#3 Notice what's important to you. No one expects you to be good at everything, that's just simply not possible. When we fail or are bad at something, you have a choice--you can either view it as something that you want to improve upon, a marker of what's important to you, or you can say "ok, that's not for me, I don't need to be good at everything."
That reaction is determined by your goals or values in life. Take this weekend for example, my failing at the Big Air competition made me mad and now I have two choices. I can say "ok, I don't care about kiteboarding, I don't want to improve at that", or I can say "hmmm, I was upset at this failure; that shows me that this is important to me. Plus it aligns with my goals as a kiteboardiner. Ok, that means I'm going to commit to working on this."
#4 Practice failing. Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, tells the story of how, at the end of every day, her dad used to ask her what she failed at. This practice normalized failing and made her look for opportunities to try her hand at new things. When you try new things, you naturally get better and when you get better, your confidence starts to build. When your confidence builds, you're more apt to try new things. It's only through effort and allow ourselves to try that we can experience the fullness that is life.
So, what are you going to fail at today?