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How To Fail in 3 Easy Steps



Often when we are faced with an inevitable next step in life, there is change and disruption and adjustment that accompanies that. And what is one of our biggest fears as we move through it all? Failure.


I recently experienced this firsthand when I experienced my own failure. I had been studying for months for an exam important to my professional development and although there was a part of me that knew I wasn’t ready; I took the exam anyway. A couple of days later I received the email, “….you failed…”. Of course, those were the only two words that stood out in the entire email. My face got hot, my stomach stirred up, and my eyes got wet. Failing sucks. I went through the roller coaster of emotions and could feel the shame rising. I worked my way through to a new place to land that felt a little bit better than shameville but it was a doozy.

 

Why do we fear failing?


The fear of failure interferes with almost everything in life and business. If you want to take a risk and the fear of failure emerges, then you may not take that risk. And it might interfere and keep you from experiencing something new or opening up to a new opportunity. It can literally take something good away from you because it keeps you from trying in the first place.

 



1.      We have a negative relationship with failure. In our culture, we tend to lean towards perfectionism, and coming short of that is looked down upon. This cultural norm can make you feel as if you’re failing. When it’s this unrealistic expectation of perfection that is ‘failing’ because you can’t fail at something that is impossible to accomplish. In this case, perfectionism.

 

2.     We catastrophize failure. We act as if failure is the end of the world. Am I saying it’s a walk in the park? No, of course not. But it's a normal part of being human. You’ve also failed about a gazillion times in your life so how about we celebrate your ability to fail and survive and that you can do it again. Unless it’s something life threatening, failing in some way will be challenging but it’s not the end of the world.

 

3.     We see it as the end. Part of catastrophizing is getting to the part where you fall (fail) and then decide it’s over and you don’t want to, or need to, or won't get back up. It's all over now that you've failed. What if failure was actually a beginning? A place to start again? A place to get up, dust yourself off and pat yourself on the back for giving it a go?

 

 

I'll add here that you can also never forget our brain’s negativity bias and how it loves to look at what’s negative about a particular situation. When you combine that with years of negative conditioning towards failure, you can see why you might struggle!


 

3 Ways to Get Good at Failing



1.      Change your relationship with failure. Work towards helping your brain shift its perspective from one of catastrophe, to one of a normal human experience. In fact, I would argue that failure is imperative for our growth and development. Embrace that failure is a part of being human. Stop trying to avoid it. Everybody fails. It’s ok.

 

2.     Trust your inner power. You have failed so many times and you’ve gotten through it and probably grown in some way from said failures. When you feel afraid of failing, remind yourself that you’ve done failure before and you can get through it again. Be kind and compassionate with yourself, the way you would a good friend.

 

3.     Redefine failure. What if instead of looking at it as a catastrophe or as some kind of character flaw, you started thinking about failure as a necessary part of growth. Accept that it often comes with a sting, but growing hurts and it doesn’t mean anything bad about you.

 

WILD Woman Art Tip – Accepting Failure


Materials Needed:

  • Watercolor paper (cold press or hot press, both behave differently. don't be afraid to experiment!)

  • Watercolor palette of choice

  • Cup for water

  • paper towel

 



1.      Take a moment to ground yourself. Take a deep breath. Feel your body here in the moment.


2.     Slowly approach the palette with a wet brush and choose a color that calls to you.



3.     Notice how your mind may be starting up with thoughts, fear, worry: “what if I…I don’t know how…I’ll probably make a mess…” or whatever other negative thoughts might emerge.



4.    Begin pushing paint around, staying curious about where it’s going to go. Notice what happens when you add more water or less water. Just notice what happens.



5. When you feel ready, add another color, notice what happens when they run together, notice what feelings come up for you. Stay curious about what can happen vs. trying to control the medium in any way.



6.      Keep going until it feels comfortable to come to a stopping point.



7.   Notice your art piece. Notice any negative thoughts that could perceive your painting as a “failure” because it’s not perfect or doesn't look a certain way.


8.     Sit with any feelings of discomfort around the process, the outcome and gently move yourself towards noticing what you may like about what you created. Maybe you like a particular color or a shape that appeared.


8.    Notice how it feels to let go and embrace imperfection.


9.    Work towards taking this sensation with you wherever you go.

 

Remember that failing is not only a part of life, but it’s an essential component to your growth and development. Not knowing leads to curiosity and trying things out and more likely than not, failing. None of us (well, not many of us!) are born with natural abilities. Most of us have to do build skills and do things more than once to understand them and that involves “failing”, which simply means, not getting it the way you thought. 


Using the WILD art process to help you through the challenging feelings that inevitably arise with failing so that you can shift your perspective on failing but also feel more empowered to do so!

 

Be patient with yourself as you grow. Take pride that you’re at least willing to take the risk and give it a go! Feel good about going for something and see what you might be able to learn about yourself in the process that might help you in the future somehow.





Myriam Martinez is an Art Therapist and Art Based Coach based out of Northern California. She gently guides women to connect to their WILD through the art process and deeper connection to self and supports them in building fierce self-confidence and feeling empowered. Her calling in this life is to teach women the power and importance of putting themselves first, loving themselves fiercely, and tapping into their creative intuition in order to bring more happiness, success, and ease into their lives.


To learn more about Myriam click here: https://www.myriammartinezcoaching.com/ 

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