How do you know when it’s time to fail?

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about failure. It’s good for me, I wasn’t allowed to fail as a kid which isn’t a great lesson frankly. Being perfect all the time is a real pain in the ass. So now I can see that failure is essential. Failure brings growth and lessons. Failure breeds character. Failure means progress. Professionally, so many of you have to risk failure to innovate, to change, to push growth. But personal failure is something else. Most of us are taught young to fear failure, to avoid it all costs.

The truth is, personal failure is essential. So many of us fail as spouses, fail as parents, fail as friends. And we beat ourselves up for it, over and over again. We shame ourselves, feel guilty, pass the buck, shovel shit elsewhere. Most of us project it or internalize the shame/guilt of failure. But, there’s a third way. We can lean into the failure, own it, name it. Be clear about what it is but what the consequences are as well. Sometimes failure is necessary for self preservation. Sometimes failure is necessary to move on. Sometimes failure is your bell weather to say, don’t do this, change course. I could use all kinds of sailing metaphors but I don’t sail so they probably wouldn’t float (lol). But what I’m trying to say is that as soon as I got real with how I felt about being a failure and distinguishing between experiencing failure and being a failure, things got a lot easier to process.

Here’s my list for experiencing failure:

  1. Do the work with a therapist and lean into it.
  2. Separate yourself from the failure and know that you aren’t a failure.
  3. Failure is human, failure is normal. Everyone fails, most people just don’t talk about it.
  4. Learn to live with it and be honest about it. Failure humanizes and makes us accessible. Failure teaches us if we listen.
  5. Covering up our failures hardens us. Leaning into them makes us vulnerable.

I have made a lot of mistakes. I’m slowly starting to work through them. Hope this inspires you to be alright with yours too. xo Janet

Published by Janet Gwilliam-Wright

Feminist and queer. Professional teller of truths. Slayer of personal demons.

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