You’ve been learning how to succeed in your attempts here at self-discipline and setting good habits. Ideally you’ve learned how to discern your highest priorities, create a good plan, and to take immediate action on it.
There’s this flip side, though, to proper self-discipline which is learning how to fail masterfully – as the companion to learning to succeed. If you can develop your ability to fail masterfully, then you’re effectively moving into a more psychologically stable place for long-term growth.
The idea here is that if you can develop a proper relationship with failure, then you no longer need to be polarized (i.e. unnerved) by it, and you can move toward your greater growth with a sense of balance, a certain steadiness without all the triumphant highs and miserable lows.
The purpose of this post, therefore, is speak to this all-important element of self-discipline. Here we go:
How to Fail Skillfully
So here are the key points:
– Learn how to fail without doubting your original goal,- Learn how to fail without being violent/abusive to yourself, and- Learn how to move – and be guided by – your natural energies
How to Fail Without Doubting Your Original Goal
This is long-term growth 101.
In case this is something you do, please stop doing this now. If you have set a goal for yourself, and you utterly believe in the value of this goal. So for example, your goal is to arrive at your target weight, or your target income level, or GPA; just because you fail does not mean that your goal is unreasonable.
When we’re on and feeling good, and full of the “holy spirit”, then we believe in our capacity to achieve these longer-term goals that we have set for ourselves. To take an example, we’ll have 3-5 days of successfully eating under a certain calorie limit and we’ll feel on top of the world.
But then, something else kicks into gear and the impulse to eat junk food becomes utterly overwhelming. When this happens, you ought to still do your best to eat properly. Or at least minimize how much junk food you consume. You’re still fighting the good fight.
Eventually the storm passes and you need to do some damage assessment. Sometimes we get so disappointed, so utterly disillusioned, that we make a critical error: we decide that we can’t ultimately lose the weight. “It’s too hard.” “I can’t.” “It’s not that important anyway.”
When you change your mind, fundamentally, about whether or not you can do this… you slow your growth down to a snail’s crawl.
So from now on, no more of that okay?
If you’re setting a habit, whether it’s studying or working or eating a certain amount, celebrate when you get it right, but if you fail on any given day… hold onto your deepest knowing that you can make this change even despite having failed.
Stay resolute in your deepest knowing that you can do this. This is what faith is; it’s holding a knowing in your ability to succeed despite the immediate evidence to the contrary.
How to Fail without Being Violent or Abusive to Yourself
This is an absolutely critical teaching.
Stop abusing yourself. Stop saying mean things TO and ABOUT yourself. You are the very thing that you’re taking into the higher levels of success that you envision. To abuse yourself is like punching holes in the bottom of your boat because you’re frustrated with it. You know? It’s like ‘congrats, now you’ve made it worse’.
If you fail, respect the fact that you did your best.
Even if it seems you could have done better, it always seems that way in retrospect. It’s different when you’re IN it. Cut yourself some slack, and give yourself some room to breathe. You’re doing your best. Your intentions are pure. You’re operating with the best intelligence and ability that you’ve gotten so far.
Always, always give yourself more love and understanding. Drop all ideas about whether or not you “deserve to be loved” or “deserve recognition” or even “deserve some down-time”. None of these things are earned, any more than oxygen is earned. These are just facts of existence. You deserve love and respect because you exist.
Any reason you have to harm yourself, or withhold love yourself is false. It’s madness. Wake up out of that nightmare now.
Self-abuse does not get you anywhere. You anything that you have achieved so far is DESPITE your self-abuse, not because of it.
Self-abuse is not the source of your motivation. You’ll still be motivated if you stop insulting and threatening yourself. More so, in fact. Try and see.
How to Move – and Be Guided by – Your Natural Energies
You are a growing, developing, evolving soul.
Stop expecting yourself just to be on thing forever. Stop expecting something to “work” forever. As you continue change and evolve, so do your priorities, values and ambitions.
Sometimes you’re brimming with productive energy – and so you go for it. Sometimes you need a little push to get going. Sometimes you need sleep and a lot of down-time to process what you’ve been going through. Don’t mistake this for laziness, it’s not.
If you’re terrified about being lazy and wasting the day, then you’re NOT at risk for being lazy. You can follow your energies in good conscience.
Get in touch with your natural intuition. Learn to tell what feels appropriate each day and week. Follow your curiosity and enjoyment. Notice when your life starts to feel dried-up, or like too much of a joyless grind. If it does, then get back in touch with yourself and reevaluate the plan. Has something changed?
If you’re overly motivated by trying to “prove yourself” to someone, then this will create confusion in you. Drop all of that; “proving” is a very poor source of motivation. Ask instead “What wants to be created today?” or “What would I truly enjoy doing today?” This will bring the juice back into life, making things enthralling again.
Three main lessons for how to fail skillfully. If you can work with these principles then you’ll find your journey of self-growth richer and less turbulent. Ultimately this is the quickest route to the success that we are all aiming for.
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