Maybe you lost a job you’d been working hard at for years. You might have felt that all your hard work was for nothing, or that you were back to square one. Or maybe you had a breakup that came out of the blue, and with it came a feeling of great loss, or shame and regret and you were kept up at night thinking of what you could have done differently.
Today I’d like to invite you to reframe the idea of failure and breakdown. Often the way people experience a breakdown or failure is actually a double whammy — the first failure is the actual event, and then the second, more insidious one, is the way we beat ourselves up for it and take it to mean that we have failed as a human being, or that there is something inherently wrong with us.
First, we need to reframe the idea of a failure as a bad thing. It’s actually an essential experience as we all move through life.
It’s not a sign that something is wrong — it’s actually a sign that you’re expanding.
Simply put, if you’re not experiencing failure, you’re not growing.
Think about it — if you’re not experiencing failure, it means you’re not trying anything new or risky. You’re playing it safe and sticking to what you know, which might feel comfortable but is that really serving you?
When you take a risk, when you try something new, when you put yourself out there, you’re bound to have some failures. It is just a part of the learning process that everyone goes through.
When we change our relationship with how we view failure and breakdown, we can see that it’s 1. Unavoidable and 2. Not a negative thing!
When we change our relationship to failure, we see it as a natural part of the process and we don’t have a breakdown about having a breakdown.
In my experience, so many of my clients turn against themselves and beat themselves up over failure, thinking that means there’s something wrong with them, that they are on the wrong path, or that it could have been avoided.
This is the more dangerous part of failure, because this is the programming you subconsciously expose yourself to that, if you repeat it, makes failure to mean that you are somehow deficient, and it will eat away at your confidence and wellbeing if left unchecked.
I invite you to reframe this idea and instead make room for allowance of failure. Instead of playing the shame game and making yourself wrong for failing, use it as an opportunity instead to develop compassion for yourself.
The better you can metabolize breakdowns—with grace, ease, self-compassion and awareness—the quicker you go through the experience and reduce your time in a negative state (beating yourself up).
You break out of the cycle of shame and regret, and instead view it with a sense of curiosity about what this failure has to teach you. This way, you depersonalize it so it no longer becomes a personal reflection of your failings and like the world is against you, but instead a natural part of life.
Growth is not about avoiding the breakdown; it’s about recognizing it, accepting it, and moving through it faster.
Instead of saying no to the breakdown, turn toward it and see it as a way to practice grace and ease. Instead of failure, see it as a sign that you’re growing, and instead of beating yourself up, congratulate yourself on expanding.