‘I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.’ Carl Jung
We need to fail. Not to be failures, but fail at. Dot dot dot. Failing at (fill in the gap) defines the very thing that happens occasionally (yes it does, to everyone, whether we admit it openly or not, or at all), but failing at does not define a person. It should not, unless we let it do that. Sadly, it does sometimes, because some of us learn to define our worthiness through our deeds. Being a parent gives me the freedom to say that parents a behind that one, most of the time anyway.
‘You are worth it because you do things and you do them well’ is what I do not what to tell my boys. You are worth it. No buts or ifs.
Hopefully that will allow them the freedom to fail at times and admit it too, knowing their worthiness is just the same or more if they do. Hopefully they will take a deep breath and say ‘well, that didn’t work’ rather than ‘I failed.’ The latter is not constructive, nor true. If stabbing oneself in the back would be possible, that’d be it. Or rather stabbing your soul, flat out cold. Telling it to look for a better residence.
Making mistakes does not make one a failure. In fact, you can fail at many things, we all do. At being human at times, which is in fact a terrible sin if you ask me, but I’ll leave that for a later chat.
We fail at keeping up with our schedules, with our plans, with our resolution to smile more, to not raise our voices at our children (OK, I am the only one, right?), to do the workout routine or finish that long pushed-aside story which you’re almost afraid of because it seems to have developed a life of its own and you almost feel it pushing you out of its way (again, that’s just me perhaps) because you’re not good enough. Well, you get the idea. We fail at things.
We fail at making things happens or making them happen the right way, but that is what it takes to figure things out. So that’s one thing I want to teach my boys in our school at home. Feel free to fail. With a mention: when you do, do it right. Which means that once you make the realization that things did not work out, you face it with dignity but not by identifying yourself with it, then you sit down (or go for a run, whichever allows for the inspiration flow to surface) and do some brainstorming. Why didn’t it work? What can be changed to make it work? What have I learned by failing at? What holds me back from believing I can succeed?
Failure without the after steps makes for a lost opportunity. So if I am to follow logic in that thicket of thoughts that just grew out of seeds of life on this page, well, I get to a simple truth: each failure is an opportunity. To learn to do better, to let go if necessary, to change something (self attributes included), to stay alive.
For as long as you fail at things, you know for a fact that you are alive and daring. Which is a good starting point for the next adventure. That’s what I want the boys to learn. That is what I hope to remember next time when my knees are bruised and self-worth is ready to take a plunge.
Keep learning. Through everything. That is all. For now…