It’s not easy or comfortable, but grappling with setbacks in life is inevitable. It’s natural to stumble and fall when you put ourselves out there. There is no shame in making mistakes. And, no matter how much it might feel like it is, failure is not the end of the world. The fact that you had the courage to show up and be vulnerable is far more indicative of your character than your failure could ever be.
Knowing this doesn’t make failing any easier, of course! Failure hurts! It can make us feel like you’re inadequate or that you didn’t have what it takes, even if these things aren’t true. The real measure of our strength comes in how you get back up again when you fall. The process of getting back up is what Brené Brown writes about in Rising Strong, where she outlines a three-step process to help readers overcome failure.
Are you feeling the sting of regret from a recent failure? Why not take a moment to relax with a Fabulous meditation? Try The Compassion Meditation to help you work through those feelings.
Phase 1: The Reckoning
When you fail at something, what is your first impulse? Do you play down your feelings to save face? Maybe you pretend the failure never even happened. Or, maybe the hurt you feel makes you lash out.
All these reactions are reasonable but are they actually helpful? Not at all. While it’s tempting to ignore the bad things that happen to you or how they make you feel, according to Brown, it’s these vulnerable moments to which you should be paying the closest attention. This is what she calls Reckoning.
Reckoning with your emotions is a two-step process. First, you must examine your emotions. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you’re feeling. Put names to those feelings. Write it down if that helps you. In fact, a daily journaling habit is a great way to practice recognizing your feelings. Why not add the Write in My Journal habit to one of your Fabulous rituals to remind you?
The second step is to investigate those feelings. If failing has made you angry, why? Are you angry at yourself? At someone or something else? Why are you feeling what you feel? By approaching your feelings with non-judgmental curiosity, you grant yourself permission to deal with your emotions in a productive way.
Phase 2: The Rumble
You may not think of yourself as a storyteller but everyone tells themselves stories. Think about the last time you faced a rejection, maybe from a job you wanted. What did you tell yourself when you got rejected? That you weren’t good enough? Or maybe that you were too good for that job?
This can be an effective way to help you reflect upon and understand your emotions. It’s also just as easy to fall into the trap of ‘unreality’. When you tell yourself something often enough, you’ll eventually start to believe it, regardless of how true it is.
That’s why the second part of Brown’s Rising Strong regimen is rumbling with these narratives. Going toe-to-toe with the things you tell yourself allows you to keep your thoughts in check. Rumbling requires self-awareness and honesty. Sometimes it can hurt to realize you’ve been telling yourself a lie. But it’s during this process that you move away from glossing over your pain and toward understanding how you feel, think, and behave on a deeper level. It also helps you root out the falsehoods and stick to the facts of every situation you face.
Brown rumbles by writing her thoughts down. If you’re not a writer, just sitting and thinking about your personal stories can help you analyze, understand, and ultimately rise strong above them. If you’re looking for a place to start, try Fabulous’s Sit and Think exercise called Write My Story.
Phase 3: The Revolution
You’ve reckoned with your feelings and rumbled with the personal narrative you tell yourself. During this process, you might have learned some uncomfortable truths about yourself. Maybe you learned that anger is your first reaction to failure because you’re afraid or ashamed to express sadness or grief. Or, perhaps the guilt you felt after being reprimanded at work stems from a fear that you’re inadequate.
Whatever the case may be, reckoning and rumbling naturally bring about the third phase of rising strong: the revolution. Rumbling with your story and owning your truth fundamentally alters how you view and engage with the world. It allows you to get up, dust yourself off, and write a new ending to your story. One where you have the power to rise up above your shame and self-doubt no matter how many times you’re knocked down.
Revolutionizing your personal beliefs is no easy task. It requires immense courage to admit your worldview is wrong, or to ask for help up when you’ve fallen. But it’s that courage that puts us on the path to wholehearted living, where we are able to be exactly ourselves, even during our most vulnerable or least flattering moments. It can be uncomfortable at times and downright scary at others. Still, the relief you’ll feel dismantling your personal walls, accepting and forgiving yourself for past mistakes, far outweighs the fear or shame you might feel at first.
Ready to start tearing down your walls? Fabulous’s The Wall meditation will help you disassemble each obstacle you face in life brick by brick.