It’s Not a Failure if You Grow from It

failureI think we need to re-frame our feelings about failure. You fail only if you do not learn from the experience. I find it really sad when I see the words “failed relationship”, or “failed marriage”, or “failed business venture” next to each other. We just have so much shame and feelings of defeat around this stuff.

Of course we all want to feel successful, but we have weird ideas about what that means. For me, at this point, successful means getting to do what you love all day long. Being at peace. Knowing how to show up for yourself and the people in your life. Uncovering and sharing your gifts, in whatever ways you can, and, certainly, meeting the practicalities of life. Having your health. Having people in your life whom you love beyond measure, and who see you and know you and celebrate you with all your beauty and all your flaws.

If you’ve been taught that success is bound to externals, like how much money you have, or how you look on the outside, it’s understandable, because that’s certainly what we’re taught culturally. Most of us have realized by now there’s no deep payoff with those pursuits. True happiness, true success in my book, is being at peace with yourself. Being in a state of acceptance, acknowledgement and accountability about who you are and how you are, and how things are with you, and around you, and being able to accept those people whom you love in the same way.

We’re all going to make mistakes. That’s part of being human, and it’s how we learn, especially the hard lessons. No one operates from their highest self in every moment. Sometimes we’re selfish or lazy. We just want what we want, and we don’t want to think about consequences. Sometimes we set ourselves up for hard losses that way, but we understand going forward that we never want to trade short-term gratification for long term pain. It’s only a failure if we miss the lesson and blow it again the next time.

Obviously it’s painful when things don’t work out the way we’d hoped, whether we’re talking about a romantic relationship, or a business venture. It hurts. It makes us doubt ourselves, and if we tend toward self-loathing to begin with, there’s nothing like a setback to wake that sleeping monster. As with everything, there’s no point running, denying or numbing out heartbreak. The more you lean into it, acknowledge it and allow yourself to feel your feelings, the sooner the heartache passes. Maybe you just need to shift your vision. Maybe you’ve been attached to a picture in your head, and the picture just needs a little reconfiguring. Either way, you might work on a little compassion for yourself. We don’t get handbooks for these things.

There are certain bedrocks of happy and healthy relationships we can agree upon—honest communication, the ability to listen deeply, a willingness to accept our partners as they are—but each individual person is her or his own mystery. How your tendencies and issues interact with your partner’s has a lot to do with determining the sustainability of your relationship. Timing, the way you grow together or grow apart, external stressors…there’s just no formula to follow. It takes two people who are willing to keep choosing each other every day. My point is, if something comes to an end, of course look at your side of the street. Figure out if there are places within you that could use your kind attention so you can do things differently moving forward, but don’t doubt you worth, your value, your ability to give and receive love. You are not the failure of the relationship. Maybe some of your actions or tendencies or choices need to be examined. Maybe you could use some support with that, but don’t confuse your identity with the outcome of any situation.

The same goes for business ventures. Business is made up of people, and people are complex. Maybe something came together or fell apart due to personality conflicts. Maybe you started something with a lot of passion, but with no way to predict what was going to happen. If you follow your dreams, it can’t ever be a failure, even if it doesn’t go the way you want it to. You pick yourself up, and take what you’ve learned, and you try again. You try differently. We never know what life has in store for us, what new adventures are around the bend, what gems we might glean from our missteps, our pain, our experiences. When I look back on my life so far, I can say with certainty I’ve always learned more from challenging situations than I have when everything was a bed of roses, and I’ve learned to trust my path, even when it takes a turn I wasn’t expecting.

Trust your path. Trust your gut. Hang in there.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

2 thoughts on “It’s Not a Failure if You Grow from It”

  1. yes! Especially when life takes a turn I wasn´t expecting, THAT is when I have learned the most. I love your writing. So impressed was i with the one about “You can´t negotiate with crazy!” that I printed it, and read it a few times a day. In fact, my husband read it out loud just yesterday. Ha! We both have really crazy familes…….. you know my dad, (a psychologist) always told us childen about not trying to rationalize with an irrational person, but you really said it even better! if we try to rationalize with an irrational person, we are just as irrational. And also about walking into a ring to calm the raging bull with your well-thought out dialogue, only to get kicked in the face! Ha! Oh boy! I am still laughing my ass off at THAT one! Ha! Also about someone needing you to be the bad guy, and why do you keep trying to prove youré actually wonderful? The ANTIDOTE is perfect Ally! Are you wonderful? Brilliant! Get back to it. Oh yeah! You made my day! Really! Now there is before I read this, and after I read this…… I swear to God….. when the student is ready, the teacher appears. I was ready to hear this and apply it every day! Don´t get caught up in the drama!
    love y namaste
    P.S. And yes! One day we will go to your Yoga classes with our granddaughters, so they can meet and practice yoga with your children, THAT will be the day! They are the same age!

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