We are not born with the fear of failure. As we grow and learn to walk we have the belief that we will get up and walk. We are all born as optimists. And when we attempt those first steps to walk, we have supportive parents cheering us on. They are there holding out their hands to catch us if we fall. If we stumble, we get right back up and keep trying. We are determined and nothing can stop us.
What happened along the way to give us trepidation, hesitation and that scared feeling? As we grow older we experience failures and setbacks. We learn an emotional reaction to these acts of “failure” which, we try to avoid as we grow older and move through life, so that we don’t have to go through these emotions again.
The emotional reaction can be described as the feeling that your heart is sinking into your chest, or that an imaginary hand is gripping your heart so tightly that you can’t breathe, can’t think and have no idea what to do.
What personal “failures” have I experienced? I have been let go from a job; I’ve broken up with long-term boyfriends; I’ve had to cancel a wedding to a man I thought I’d spend the rest of my life with; I’ve competed in fitness competitions and not placed; I’ve gone after running certain time race goals and not achieved them. What I want to say here is that “failure” can come in so many different moments in life. Failures are personal due to your expectations. They don’t have to be “big” in terms of society to elicit an upsetting emotional reaction.
Any event that happens in your life where you feel like you haven’t lived up to a certain expectation, either set by yourself or those around you, can be seen as a failure. The moment or event of failure could be something you could have controlled or maybe you had no control over the situation. A failure is not easily defined, but it can be felt in so many different ways.
By telling you about different failures in my life I want to explain that they can come in so many different ways throughout life. They can come from goals I’ve set for myself or from life events that were supposed to happen. Failure has not always been ever so present in my life. When I first experienced a “major” failure of being let go from a job, I thought it was embarrassing. How can a self-proclaimed Alpha Female fail at anything in life? And then I stopped thinking that way, because I acknowledged that I’m human and imperfect. Anything and everything that I’ve gone through in my life makes me, me. In moments of failure I would wonder why it was happening. But on the other side of failure I can now say I’m grateful for every single experience. I’m grateful for the journey no matter how difficult it has been.
I’m sure I’m going to fail at things again in the future. It’s inevitable, but from my broken-heel moments so far I now know steps to take to get me back on track. Here are 10 things you can slowly incorporate into your life when you’re ready, and in no particular order, to help you heal and get back on your life path.
1. Feel Your Feelings
You are allowed to feel whatever way you feel. Allow yourself to feel. Then allow yourself to work through those feelings. Ask yourself: Why do you feel that way? How can you move through it, past it? I completely recommend going to see a psychiatrist or psychotherapist or therapist or whatever floats your boat. I went to see a cognitive therapist after calling off my wedding to work through everything that was going on in my head. I asked in my first session what the purpose of therapy was as I was never a believer that it was something I was ever going to need in life. My therapist told me that, hopefully at the end of each session, I would feel a little bit lighter. I would never have all the answers, but I would feel lighter. And that feeling of being slightly lighter each time helped me heal and take it one day at a time.
I didn’t want to cry. I didn’t want to feel hurt. I didn’t want to feel weak. I kept getting so mad at myself for crying. I have come to realize that until you release an emotion it will tie you down. It will make you drag your feet on the ground. So grieve. It’s hard to write instructions on how to grieve. If I can offer any advice it would be to just let the hurt happen and then let it go. I also can’t define what “let it go” will mean for you. It could be forgiveness; it could be refocusing on a new goal. It is different in every moment of failure and unique to individuals. Grief is a process and is different for everyone, but in my moments of failure I didn’t want to acknowledge sad feelings. I wanted to be “stronger” than them. But I am human. I feel, oh boy do I cry, and that is ok.
3. Read Quotes
When I first discovered Pinterest I found boundless fashion ideas, wedding visions and quotes. The first three boards I created were for Fitness Inspiration, My Dream Wedding (as I was planning mine from January 2011 to July 2012) and my Words of Motivation quote board. Little did I know that in September 2012 I’d be turning to the platform to find solace in words? When insomnia hit, or emotions welled up too much or I was paralyzed in bed unable to move I kept my mind busy by playing iPhone games (so much that I overdosed on bejeweled) and by slowly scrolling through quote after quote on Pinterest. I sought solace in quotes that could explain my circumstances and gave me hope for the future. My Words of Motivation board has been added to over and over again and you can even see a theme of hurt to healing in the quotes that I’ve pinned over the past year. I have become addicted to quotes. I’m ok with this addiction. It’s similar to my fitness addiction. If it benefits your life, it’s a healthy obsession. I’ve also discovered that sharing quotes on my social networks is helping me connect with others who need words to heal. I’m grateful for those connections.
4. Surround Yourself with Positive People
Lean on your support system. I was lucky to have girlfriends, my mom, my dad & brother, co workers, acquaintances and social media friends swoop in with kind words, hugs and whatever was needed at the time. I leaned on them and I will be forever grateful for help getting over hurdles. Hugs heal. Sitting talking with a great listener heals. Watching chick flicks and eating ice cream or having tea / coffee dates heals. Going to beautiful yoga studios and being present on your mat beside your girls heals. Sometimes you just need to be with your support system and have them present in your life to heal.
5. Beware of the Curious
Our society loves drama. We crave it. We’ve been conditioned through reality TV, celebrity stalking and how open social media is. Beware in the midst of failure that there will be those who are offering to be part of your support system but are generally just in it for the curiosity. Be careful of who you open up to, as it can hinder the healing process later if trust is broken.
6. Find Your Happy
I am not being paid in any way by this author but go and buy The Happiness Project. If you have not read it yet do it now and take what you need from the book to build your own project. If you’ve read it but haven’t had a chance to start your own project yet, same thing goes for you. Do it now. Thank me later!
7. Make Bucket Lists
Wake up and live. Choose to live your life the way you want to and do things that make you happy. So choose your happiness project and start setting short-term and long-term goals. Dream and make yourself a bucket list of what you want to achieve over coming weeks or months.
8. Fitness Routine
There were days when my couch wouldn’t let me off of it. It was so warm and comforting. However, on the days I forced myself to go to the gym and forced myself to sweat were good days. When a workout produces happy hormones (endorphins) that rush through your blood, it’s just a little bit more possible to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
9. Eat Clean
Eat that bucket of ice cream. Order that extra large pizza all to yourself. Do it once and then stop. Emotionally eating is a slippery slope. I gained unhealthy weight when I ate emotionally to get through moments. I know now that I needed something comforting, but I also know that there comes a moment when you stop and say what really matters is good clean and healthy food to make me feel better. I spent time on meal plans and grocery shopping instead of feeling sorry for myself. I chose to fuel and nourish my soul. So getting back into a fitness routine and eating properly the way I had been before was exactly what I needed to give myself a foundation for healing.
If you can sleep, sleep. Try and get those coveted 8 hours. Your body needs to heal from the stress it’s going through and getting that great night sleep will lower your stress hormone cortisol. If you have insomnia then see your doctor for what you may need but I was able to use just melatonin or 5HTP and discussing dosage with my naturopath. I had to stop using the melatonin because I would have such vivid dreams that weren’t always the most pleasant.
In Tosca Reno’s words that she shared when speaking at the Can Fit Pro Conference in August 2013: we are all resilient human beings who can float.
I urge you to float.