One of the most powerful tools I’ve ever learned for recovering from failure (or criticism, rejection, or bad news) was learning how to spin any experience into a positive. More specifically, learning how to spin any experience into a story.
When I learned to remove the personal pain I felt after a failure, I could then see an opportunity. I could see that as much as an experience I’m in right now might suck – maybe it’s a feeling of defeat, a negative comment online, or a rejection – I will be able to share that experience later. I’ll be able to connect with more people, walk alongside a greater population, and turn around to help others following my footsteps. To give a hand when someone needs it most, exclaim a truthful “Oh girl I’ve been there!”, and let another know they are most definitely not alone.
Learning how to turn anything into a story that can help someone else automatically gives my life – including every negative experience – purpose. And, isn’t that what we so often want? To know that what we’re going through and what we’re doing with our time has a purpose bigger than ourselves. When I take time to notice, I realize that any physical pain I feel in my body after a failure is not nearly as overwhelming as the emotional beating I take on in my mind.
“You’re not enough.”
“Why did you think you could do this?”
“No one likes you.”
Much of my suffering is happening in my mind and nowhere else. It’s the shame of getting it “wrong”, the disappointment of not meeting expectations, the fear of being unloved, or the belief that something is fundamentally wrong…with me. When we take a moment to breathe into the physical sensations – maybe an unsettled stomach, shallow breath, or tingling skin – and really feel it, our physical sensations usually subside relatively quickly. Then once we get quiet and focus on what’s going on upstairs, we’re able to filter the truth from the lies.
I am not a failure. I simply gained feedback. I am not unloved. I am simply feeling rejected. The emotional discomfort is often washed away as soon as we mix in a little purpose with a whole lot of compassion. As we challenge our beliefs about failure and ourselves. Or as we challenge our expectations and what it means to succeed.
We begin to fall in like with failure when we turn our experience into a story.