On Failure

“Sometimes you experience failed expectations as heartbreak and disappointment, and sometimes you feel rage. Failure or things not working out as you’d hoped doesn’t feel good; that’s for sure. But at that time, maybe instead of doing the habitual thing of labeling yourself a “failure” or a “loser” or thinking there is something wrong with you, you could get curious about what is going on. And really this is where I think your education will come in handy.

“If you can just remember that you never know where something will lead. Getting curious about outer circumstances and how they are impacting you, noticing what words come out and what your internal discussion is, this is the key. If you want to be a full, complete human being, if you want to be genuine and not pretend that everything is either one way or the other way but you can hold the fullness of life in your heart, then this is the opportunity when you can get curious about what is going on and listen to the storylines. And you don’t buy the storylines that blame it on everybody else. And you don’t buy the storylines that blame it on yourself, either.”

“Your best qualities come out of [failure] because it’s unguarded and you’re not shielding yourself. Failing better means that failure becomes a rich and fertile ground instead of just another slap in the face. And so I can tell you that it is out of this same space that come our best human qualities of bravery, kindness, and the ability to really reach out to and care about each other. It’s where real communication with other people starts to happen, because it’s a very unguarded, wide-open space in which you can go beyond the blame and just feel the bleedingness of it, the raw-meat quality of it.

The question is, are you going to grow or are you going to just stay as you are out of fear and waste your precious human life by status quo-ing instead of being willing to break the sound barrier? Break the glass ceiling, or whatever it is in your own life? Are you willing to go forward?”

–  Pema Chodron, Fail Again, Fail Better


These two quotes, put together, called out to me.   First, relabeling of the experience of “failure” and second, using it as an opportunity to become something more.  She uses the terms breaking the sound barrier, the glass ceiling, ceasing the status quo, not wasting your life, moving forward.  All very strong words to shuffle around.




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