Saturday, July 10, 2010

July "I Believe" Challenge - Day 10: Failure

I believe the main reason I'm doing this post today is because I don't want to FAIL at this challenge!

My whole house is in a cranky mood this morning.  The girls just got back from camp yesterday.  It's been raining on and off all week.  Both my husband and I had big weeks from a professional standpoint, me with my final board-level exam hurdle to getting my license and him with a huge move of all the office which he was responsible for.  I think we are all tired.  We are certainly all grumpy.  It happens sometimes, right?

So, why is it than when others around me are grumpy, or when I'm not feeling so on top of my game, that my thoughts automatically go to failure?  The voice runs in my head that says that I am somehow single handedly responsible for the happiness of everyone around me, and if they are cranky then somehow I must BE a failure.  Notice I don't think that maybe I am failing at a certain task, or that maybe their moods have nothing to do with me, or that maybe we all just need a nap.  No - those old tape recordings go straight to YOU ARE.... and a failure is one of the worst things the messages can say about me.

I've always put a lot of stock in external measures of validation - for instance - grades.  And I think one of the reasons why this has been so easy for me to do is because a good grade is an objective, visible measure of success, something I can hold up as sort of a talisman against the gremlin voices.  Something to prove to the rest of the world that I am NOT a failure.

Now, rationally and realistically - I know I am not a failure.  I can list off many things - both internal and external - that support the view that I am blessed and successful beyond measure.  So why are those voices so loud sometimes?

I believe it has to do with a cultural mindset that equates failure and weakness, that says succeed at all costs, that says never let them see you cry.  And I believe that the only way to shift out of that mindset is to reframe failure.  To see failure as a learning opportunity.  To look at what I need to learn about me.  To see that maybe, if I fail repeatedly in a situation, it's because the situation is not beneficial and growth-producing but rather soul-killing and something I need to leave behind.  To be gentle with myself, and to have a sense of humor, and let go of the need to be perfect all of the time. 

I'm trying.  And sometimes I fail.  But I am not a failure.  And I'm learning and growing all the time.


  1. Oh, can I ever relate! I love the way you're reframing this false belief, Renae. It's something I have to work on a lot. But failure is just a step to succeeding, a necessary step at that. And why is it Mom's fault when everybody's cranky???

    Glad I came across your blog again. I had not been here for awhile... I'll be back!

  2. This is so right on for many of us. And we (or at least I) struggle with passing it on to my children. On the grades thing...I have wrestled with keeping my demons away from my children. Do your best vs. be the best. Triage priorities vs. kill yourself doing everything. It doesn't matter what others think of you vs. what matters is what you think of yourself. AAAAGGGHHHH!!!!

    Then the note from a teacher that says my daughter has failed to turn in some homework assignments and while it isn't significantly affecting her overall grade, she hopes it won't become a pattern for future classes. Do I crack the whip on my kid and tell her to get that homework turned in on time, or do I congratulate her for choosing her priorities?

    Failure...such a negative word. What if we removed it and simply said, "I haven't succeeded yet." Failure doesn't exist....the only thing that exists is an extension of the time required to succeed. I like that much better.

  3. "I'm trying. And sometimes I fail. But I am not a failure. And I'm learning and growing all the time."

    Beeee-you-teeeee-ful! :)