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Failure, Falling & Flight

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Over half of my life I lived in fear of failure; fear of failing others, at tasks, myself and at life in general. Some of this has to do with having OCD, which is an anxiety disorder. Then there is the portion of that which stems from the way that I grew up and I was conditioned by my family structure to not fail. Failure was met with derision, mockery and sometimes more physical means of correction.

I have spent years working on both the OCD management around fear of failure and overcoming the familial and social conditioning associated with it. The OCD isn’t going anywhere until they find a cure, probably not in my lifetime, so I work to manage it through, medication, therapy, structure and various other means. However, the familial and social conditioning I have a LOT more control over. I know that not everyone believes you can overcome those things and that’s ok. For myself I do believe I can overcome them and grow from them. I believe this because over the last 20 years I have proven that to be true in my life.

Still today when I feel I have let someone I care about down or have “failed” them I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach, the anxiety rockets and I feel like they are going to condemn or attack me. The difference today is that I usually recognize that pretty quickly¬† and then take steps to mitigate it. Some of those steps are:

  1. Take ownership of what I did, or didn’t do.
  2. Make amends for what I did, or didn’t do. (Note, an amends is not the same as an apology.)
  3. Set up steps to correct my behavior around the issue. (Example: Not completing job or task given because of communication breakdown or confusion. Correction: Make sure to get clear written instructions for the task and mirror back the instructions and ask for further clarification if needed even at further points in the task.)
  4. Continue to practice the behavior corrections in future interactions across the board.
  5. Ask for help from my own personal support team in correcting behaviors I am unhappy with.
  6. Own my successes no matter how small they are throughout the process.

Is it easy to do, snap my fingers and magically it’s done? Nope. I wish I could say that was true. Then again, no I don’t. If it were easy I do not believe that I would gain as much knowledge from it. Sure, there’s something to be said for that instant gratification on a task but there is just as much if not more to be said for the peeling away the layers to learn from each one.

I have had many people over the years, when hearing parts of my story, ask me if I would go back in time and change the awful things that happened to me. I have honestly been able to say no in answer to that question. I know many people reading this are thinking that’s a nutso response and can’t imagine not going back to undo terrible things. There’s a catch to going back and undoing those things and having them never happen. I believe I wouldn’t be who I am today if I did. I really like who I am today overall, the path of growth I am on and I don’t want to undo that.

I know from experience that we learn from everything that happens in our lives, both positive and negative. The positive things have taught me how to balance the negative things. The desire to learn, grow, evolve and help others keeps me moving forward even on the craptacular days. I know that if I can make it through I can reach out a hand to help others struggling. That’s not to say I will do the work for them but I will be more than happy to share what I have learned and be supportive to them. People have done that for me and I am merely passing on freely what I have been given.

We all fall at times and we all fail, it is part of the human experience; no one is perfect.¬† That absolutely includes the people who have tried to shame me for making mistakes. The skill to acquire from failure and falling is how to get back up again, dust myself off and learn from my misadventures. Baby birds aren’t hatched, jump right out of the nest & soar; it takes time, growth, patience and practice. There is always something that I can learn from any experience if I am open to seeing it.

If I can take away one thing from each failure that I can use as a tool to improve and hopefully succeed in future experiences then I win! I learn as much if not more when I fall. It also makes me appreciate when I succeed and fly oh so much more!

What are you doing today to take flight?

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