It is impossible to ignore that feeling of discouragement and failure when it takes over your whole body. Each and every single cell is aware of its presence. Taking over your thoughts, your mind, rushing and channeling your energy to those dark places you know only too well. It’s like getting caught in an animal trap, and you know it; it’s painful and seems impossible to get out of. You want to run away from feeling the way you do, but you are stuck, trapped, you cannot move. Wherever you go, the darkness goes.
Failing is universal. We all experience it.
When people see me as the successful entrepreneur, the ex-CEO, the healer, they might have this impression that I never fail, that I know how to avoid failure. Well it’s not the case. I do fail. A lot. And often. But I have stopped to try to avoid failure, I have learned to discover the hidden teacher in them, and I have learned to understand why this failure is essential to my soul purpose (I explain why in the tools to empower your failures below).
Meditation. I do practice it but not always daily. There are days when I don’t make the time to sit for my practice. I am trying to develop a better discipline because I know it’s so important for my balance and clarity of mind. I am learning that the most important thing is to just show up for the practice, however hard it is, however many times I failed to follow through before.
Listening. This is a big one for me. I used to be terrible at it, because I thought that what mattered most was to be heard. But over the years I learned how much more important it is to listen – to truly listen - than it is to be heard. I developed a few great mindfulness tools that allow me to be a better listener, and I do see more clearly now also when I fail at it.
Living simply. I have greatly reduced the quantity of items I own. Clothing, “boy toys”, electronic devices (I sold my iPad, 2 of my cameras, had no TV for 14 years), I now live in a smaller yet comfortable space. But I still sometimes struggle to resist the impulse for material gratification. Yet the urge to buy things that don’t really enhance my life happiness in the long term has gone most of the time. But when it is not I can see it is still link to some fears (mainly of fully letting go of my old life).
Giving. I donate money and my time to charity and to others, like many of us do, but I feel like I could dedicate more of myself, offer my skills and time more frequently. I do so on occasion but it is not happening always on an ongoing basis so I try to remind myself just how uplifted I feel when I do give. And I now spend over 50% of my time in serving/service.
Mindfulness. There are so many powerful ways to connect with our-selves, to be in a place of “being”. I teach others how to practice them yet I often fail to incorporate them into my life as a regular practice. So I remind myself that I am a work in progress, I bring my awareness to it and acknowledge that what truly matters here is willing to do the work, to walk the talk and be in integrity.
Being off the grid / On the real grid. I spent a lot of time on the Internet. I work mainly from home and use my iPhone and laptop to manage my various ventures and I do realize that I spend way too much time on those gadgets. I am still trying to figure out how I can disconnect more often, step out to stretch my legs and expand my breath before the sun goes down. Starting to connect to the Shabbat practice really helped me.
Procrastinating. I used to be the king of procrastination... Well, I think that these days I can be considered to be just a prince. Not a proud prince, but the type of prince that hides his crown… I made huge progress in this area yet I realize that if I do not diligently schedule agenda reminders and pay strict attention to deliverables, I fail at this. Procrastination is my BIGGIE!
Keeping my heart open. In every situation, seeing the good in others and focusing on seeing ourselves in others is still a work in progress. I have made huge strides by realizing that I can be more caring & more compassionate only when I learn how to set clear, healthy boundaries for myself around others. Realizing That I need to stop fueling their fears and limiting beliefs with blind acceptance.
Maintaining high levels of energy all day. When you teach, or run a business, being filled with clear and strong energy is key. Our energy levels can be deeply influenced by our environment, the people in it or activities we chose to participate in. Engaging in certain activities such as mindless chit-chat, binge-watching TV series, consuming unhealthy food, not recharging with a nap or a mindfulness practice during the day will deplete your energy reserves. I still find myself at times engaging in energy depleting activities so I try to remember all this and not stumble and fail too often.
Being vulnerable. I know it’s key to connect with others and grow our inner leadership. I still see when I start closing my heart and not opening and owning fully my story because of shame or fears. So I keep myself in check by talking about my failures, by sharing my fears, by exposing my shadows - with my students and the world.
Being grateful. I am aware of the importance of being grateful as the foundation for true, lasting happiness, so you would think I would practice this diligently… Well, there are days when I am challenged. Especially on those dark days. So I bring my awareness to it, and remind myself that no matter how hard or dark the day has been, I will not go to bed at night without recalling three things I am most grateful for right now in my life.
And this is not the full list of my failings...
So how do we move forward from here? How do we wake up, get our energy back, shift our thoughts to a positive outlook and bring more light to others?
Here are a few tools that I use, which have proven to be tremendously powerful, so when I fail, I don’t linger in the darkness for too long and more importantly I learn from the darkness.
Failure are your teachers in disguise. Very often, if not always, we look at failure as something bad/negative. Yet over the past 10 years of my work, I have learned to discover that each failure I went through held a key to higher wisdom. A message from God. A Love letter from the Universe to my Soul. Go find the loving teacher hidden in your failure...
Reach out. You would be surprised by how many people you already have in your life that can offer help & support when you stumble. Failure is such a universal experience that sometimes, somehow, we lose track of this truth. People around you have been there. They can help.
Keep a clear mind, free of delusions, balanced rather than caught up in the ups & downs, a mind that is not your controlling master anymore. Practicing meditation and breath work daily, even for a short period of time, is your best tool for change.
Do not seek perfection; seek growth. As a teacher I always remind myself that we are not perfect, we are just aiming to be better today than we were yesterday. It’s all about growth and it’s never about perfection.
Be kind to yourself. With failure, our mind chimes in with a rapid fire of fears, limiting beliefs and shadow thoughts, making a monster out of the event. I will never be this, or I will never be able to do that, etc. I’m sure you are familiar with that voice that is trying to keep us down. So when failure comes, just see it for what it could be, for what it really is: a great teacher. Bow to it. I repeat BOW TO IT. It’s a gift. Learn from it. Rise again. Walk again.
Connect to nature. Walk outside, stroll through the park, head to the beach, hike through a forest - nature has the ultimate ability to uplift our soul and recharge our batteries. So make a contract with yourself to plug back into the real grid, the one that matters, and do so weekly or daily when you feel down.
Be the Indiana Jones of your inner world. Your failures invite you to look at one aspect of your life in a more detailed way. So look at it, examine it with curiosity and without judgment. Like a great explorer would in an unknown territory. Feel them instead of thinking of them. Find the hidden keys. Find the hidden meanings. Make the changes that would help you next time.
So yes. I failed. I fail. And I will fail again. I am becoming more and more grateful for those teachers, my failures, which have set me on an extraordinary journey of self-discovery, growth, self-acceptance, self-love, true inner leadership and ultimately more success & happiness in life.
Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success. C. S. Lewis
So remember. Be Kind to yourself. Be curious of the ‘Why’. Be loving with your failures. Look at them with this new mindset and embrace the downs, as much as the ups. It’s the only way to truly BE alive and happy.