The Weekly Seeker #4
Note: To receive this weekly column in your inbox every Friday morning, you can join my email community.
Feeling like you’ve failed at something in your life can really sting.
It can bring up deeply uncomfortable feelings of inadequacy, imposter syndrome, self-criticism.
It can make you want to crawl into a dark hole and never try anything ever again.
Personal anecdote: This exact thing happened to me when I got my first one-star rating (out of 5 stars) on my podcast, Inner Work. I wanted to trash the whole thing, never make another podcast episode again, and hide away from the world. I felt embarrassed and doubted myself and my work for a few days after that.
That situation was so triggering because I hadn’t figured out that I was defining failure in a misguided way.
First, I assumed that if someone hated my podcast enough to leave a one-star rating, it meant my work was unworthy, not good enough, not smart enough, or that perhaps I had offended this listener in some awful way.
Second, I extrapolated from there and assumed if my work was not worthy = I was not worthy.
I saw that one-star rating as a massive failure – as a bad, negative, unwanted thing.
… I remembered that what we call “failure” is an inevitable, natural, necessary part of life. Especially if you want to live a life that matters, full of meaning and purpose.
To me, a life that matters is one where:
- you express yourself authentically
- you stand firm in your truth and integrity (not buckling to societal, cultural, or familial pressures)
- you care enough to make a difference
- you pursue your life’s purpose with enthusiasm and tenacity
If you live following these four principles – which are principles of expansion – you will at some point face a challenge. You will at some point say or do something that another person disagrees with, or that triggers them, or that forces them to look at something uncomfortable or misaligned in their own lives.
And, as you expand, you might try to do, start, or create something that doesn’t quite go as planned. Or you might get stuck somewhere along the way.
Or you might get feedback that bruises your ego a bit (or a LOT – like my one-star rating!).
Or you get no feedback whatsoever, and it seems no one cares that much about what you’re creating either way. (Getting *crickets* can be triggering, too.)
Instead of seeing these situations as failures, see them as:
- Potential avenues of expansion, which you can tweak or course-correct if they are still aligned with you (or you can close them and start something else, if it’s time to let go)
- Opportunities to practice your resilience, your unconditional acceptance of yourself, your healthy coping skills in the face of uncomfortable or imperfect circumstances
To live a full life, and to create a legacy of goodness that outlives you, you must be willing to take a risk and fail.
You must be willing to tell the truth, and fail.
You must be willing to stand up for what you believe in, and fail.
You must be willing to be creative and authentic, and fail.
You must be willing to fail and start again.
This is life.
With love, your friend,