Why failure can be good for us - The Self-Worth Experiment

Why failure can be good for us

By Dr Berni Sewell | Discover your happiness

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May 29
Why failure can be good for us

I am Austrian. And Austrians ski. Actually, we learn it in school! It’s part of the curriculum! I kid you not!

So there I was, at 13 years old, finding myself on my second school skiing course. I tried my best to control the two planks on my feet. I made efforts not to fall out of ski lifts. I strained my eyes in an attempt to defeat my snow blindness. And I could still feel my legs turning down the slopes when I was lying in my bed at night.

But still, at the end of the week, my teacher took me to one side and said: “Berni, you are hopeless. You are a menace to yourself and others. Please do us all a favour and NEVER ski again.”

I was shocked. Despite all the blood, sweat and tears (literally!), I was a complete and utter skiing disaster. The school skiing dummy. Loser of the year. A failure. How could this have happened?

I beat myself up about this catastrophic failure for a long time and have, in fact, never put a foot on a skiing slope again. Worse still, I have since been reluctant to try any new sports for fear I could fail again.

However, I recently discovered that my perspective of my failure was all wrong! In fact, I have now come to believe that it wasn’t a failure at all.

Let me explain…

An alternative way to define failure

A few weeks ago I started reading Dr David Hawkins’s book “Letting go: The pathway to surrender”. In it, he describes that most of our “I can’ts” are in fact “I won’ts”. And it got me thinking!

For years I felt bad for being a skiing failure. Every 3-year old in Austria can ski. Why can’t I? What is wrong with me that I failed so miserably? Why am I so incapable?

But the truth is that it has nothing to do with “I can’t”. It was always “I won’t”. I hated skiing. It scared me to death. And I didn’t want to do it.

So I was half-arsing it. Yes, I tried but not with real intention, purpose and passion. I was sabotaging myself and my skiing success. Because deep down I didn’t want it. I merely thought I had to. Being Austrian and all…

We tend to hate ourselves if we don’t succeed at something, if we fail. We feel we aren’t good enough. Others succeed, so why can’t we?

But maybe we should ask ourselves “Why do I not want what I am striving for?”

Am I scared? Of change, humiliation, embarrassment, conflict, rejection or leaving my comfort zone? Then our failure is a sign of fear, not of being an incapable, pathetic loser.

Or do I deep down believe that I ain’t good enough? Do I subconsciously set myself up for failure so I can prove to myself that what I think of myself is true. Do I “choose” to fail so I can confirm to myself that I am worthless? Then our failure is a sign of low self-worth. Nothing more.

Failure doesn’t mean that you’re a loser

Failure always is a loving hint from the Universe. It shows you which topic you need to work on to move forward in your personal evolution. Or it’s a signpost that you are going in the wrong direction.

Because sometimes what we want is not what is best for us in the long term. If we want something but keep failing despite doing our best, it may be time to look for other options. The Universe knows the bigger picture and it is always best to trust it.

And if you keep failing because you aren’t doing your best, maybe it is time to admit that it’s not what you want.

Either way, I believe that success and failure are society imposed notions. Imaginary concepts, not any more real than a dragon or the gruffalo. The reason why we strive for success and fear failure is because we attach our worth to it.

If we succeed, we feel worthy (or others consider us worthy), if we fail, we lose our worth (or others disapprove of us).

In reality though our true worth does not depend on our achievements. It is a birth right, not something we earn. As such, it is impossible to lose it, no matter how often you feel that you failed.

So always remember that you ARE worth. And treat failures as what they really are: helpful hints and signposts on your way to a better life.

You’ll get there!


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