Recently I saw a commercial on television that had a sentence that truly impacted me in an unexpected way. It was a commercial from a pharmaceutical company talking about quitting smoking. I don’t smoke, so I was only half paying attention. The statement made was absolutely incredible. It said, “If you have tried to quit and failed maybe you didn’t fail, your method failed.”
I thought about this for quite a while after that commercial. This statement is so true in so many areas of our lives. We attempt to do something and then we aren’t as successful as we had envisioned when we started that whole process. We get frustrated and think that we are incapable of change or success in that area. This begins to wear on our view of self and self esteem, if we allow it, after some time.
What areas in your life have you consistently experienced what you perceive as failure? Is it in weight loss, promotion at work, being more expressive with your partner, engaging with your kids or any other important element in your life? These are all worthwhile endeavors, but if we aren’t successful, we are apt to become gun shy and just assume that we are incapable of effecting change in that area of our lives.
We resolve that we all have weaknesses, capitulate our success to that area just being one of our weaknesses and chalk it up to the fallibility of our humanity. While there is a place to acknowledge that our humanity does pose some limitations, it shouldn’t be an excuse to just give up. We have become such an analytical society, that we become short sighted and blind ourselves to alternative perspectives.
What was your last perceived failure? Can you even distinguish the method you used from the failure? If not, your first step should be to determine the methods you use to try and accomplish things in your life. Once you are able to do that, then you depend on following the method. If it stinks and doesn’t work, you simply try another one. There is a freeing sense of disassociation that goes along with this.
If your method fails, that says nothing about who you are as a person it simply says that your deeds could be improved upon through your chosen method. We allow our identity to get all wrapped up in what we do, so that when things don’t go perfectly we self berate and think that we are somehow less of an individual. This perception affects what we believe to be true and in turn affects how we choose to act and do life.
Take an inventory of your perceived failures. Pick apart the method you used and what might be an alternative. The onus rests on the method and not on you, so don’t let anxiety and fear stop you from trying over and over. You just stick to your method until you know if it’s successful. If it’s not a great method, make your changes and stick to that one. Life is all about trial and error, so let’s keep that in perspective. Life is short, so enjoy it!
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