What happens when you don’t even try?

Fail ahead of time.

Many of us don’t attempt to do something because we’re afraid of failing. We’re afraid of what others will think of us if we fail. We’re afraid of what we’ll say and think to ourselves if we fail. 

So we avoid attempting the thing. But what happens when we don’t even attempt the thing? We’re actually FAILING AHEAD OF TIME. 

We fail ahead of time when we don’t even attempt it. At least when we attempt something, go for it, and then it doesn’t work out the way we wanted, we failed while taking action, while going after something. By not attempting it at all, we fail ahead of time. 

So if we’re willing to fail anyway by not taking action, what makes failing and taking action worse? At least we’ve attempted it. And in the attempt, what if we’re actually successful? Then what?  

“Failure” only hurts because of what we make it mean about ourselves. Does it suck to be rejected or to lose? It can. If we’re making it mean that we’re not worthy or that something is wrong with us. But if we think instead, “OK, that wasn’t the right fit. I gave it my best shot and feel good about how I showed up. Let’s see what happens with the next one.” 

If there is no “failing” but only winning and learning, we might be more willing to “fail”–because we’d only be learning something to move forward and grow, or creating a winning outcome for ourselves.  

When we don’t make failure mean anything about us and our worthiness, we can learn from each interaction or situation where things didn’t work out the way we wanted them to. 

We collect information from our attempt. 

We’re more willing to try something else or something different the next time. 

We’re open to learning from the experience. 

We’re willing to continue to show up with our best effort. 

And guess what happens when we continue to show up with our best effort? We might end up winning. 

Your turn: Are you willing to think about “failing” differently? What if “failing” doesn’t mean anything about yourself and is just a learning experience? What if “failing” is a way to gather data to get even better? What would happen if you got good at “failing”?

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Why are you being so mean (to yourself)?

We can be so judgy.

Do you notice the thoughts you tell yourself? Especially when things don’t go the way you want them to? In a situation with your friend, where things don’t turn out the way they wanted, you’d likely be supportive. You might say, “There’s something better out there for you,” or “You’re so great, you’ll find another opportunity in no time,” or “You learned a lot from this to take to the next experience,” or “I’m so sorry you’re disappointed. How can I support you?”

In these situations with yourself when things don’t turn out the way you want, what are the words you say to yourself? What do you make that situation mean about you?

It can be easy to beat ourselves up after a perceived failure. Instead of focusing on the facts of what happened or what we learned from the experience, we tend to make what happened mean something about ourselves. This can look like thinking to yourself, “I knew I wasn’t good enough,” or “What’s wrong with me? There’s got to be something wrong with me,” or “I’ll never get it right–I’m such a failure,” or “I shouldn’t be feeling like this. Get over it!”

The words we say to ourselves can be pretty mean. So not only have we “failed” at the thing we wanted, we then proceed to beat ourselves up for it–and feel even worse. And we’re likely the only ones telling ourselves these mean things and making ourselves feel terrible about it.

Then we start to hide, play it safe, and protect ourselves from “failing” again. So we don’t even attempt to go after what we want. But we’re only trying to avoid the words we say to ourselves, which create feelings of defeat, disappointment, hurt, and shame.

If we think we’re trying to avoid the judgment of others, in reality, we can’t control what they think about us. Even if we “succeeded” at something, there are still some people who will judge us for succeeding as much as they might judge us for failing. (And are you sure you want those people in your life?)

So if we’re not really avoiding the judgment of others, whose judgment are we trying to avoid? It could be the mean thoughts we’re used to telling ourselves.

Once we’re aware of what we say to ourselves, we have the power to change what we say and choose to be kinder to ourselves.

Your turn: What if there’s no such thing as failing, only winning or learning? How would you talk to yourself then? What thoughts about yourself could you have that are a little kinder? What if you talked to yourself and supported yourself the way you’d support a friend or even a kid-version of yourself who’s learning something new? What would you say to yourself then? And how would your relationship with yourself change?

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Work with me: Want to create a more meaningful life in which you get to show up the way you want, be fully present, and engage purposefully? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 60-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.