After Failure, Rise up.


It's a funny thing, failure. We think we know it and then it surprises with an unanticipated and seemingly undeserved catastrophe. If you've ever had a test suddenly graded on a curve, you understand this feeling. You studied, you did your best and by the percentages you did above average, but in your class you failed. Tough luck, they say. But if you needed to pass in order to graduate, you don't feel unlucky. You feel like a failure.

Life is full of failures, big and small. You get fired or laid off. A relationship ends with and without warning. College applications, the playground at school, the audition, the job interview, words with friends, golf or a new yoga position, if you're breathing and leaving the house then you will eventually encounter an opportunity to fail.

What's surprising, given how often life deals out failures, is how surprised and upset we get when it happens. Perhaps our consumer-driven, youth-oriented culture has caught up with us? Whatever the reason, I encounter a lot of suffering in my practice that stems from the surprise of failure.

Two things are helpful when rebounding from a failure: 1) knowing with your whole heart that failure is never personal, and 2) no matter how dismal the consequences of the failure, recovery from failure is never about how far you've fallen. Recovery is all about the rising up.

Your house burned down and the neighbor's house didn't. It's not personal. You got fired or laid off. Still not personal to you. It's personal to the people who made the decision to let you go. Your lover/spouse/partner left you. Sorry, it's still not about you. It's about them. You were cheated, robbed, betrayed....nope, not personal. It's still about them.

Since it's not personal to you, as soon as you possibly can manage it, refuse to blame or complain. Blaming and complaining are a waste of your thinking and most of all your energy. Grieving is different from taking failure personally. Grieving is about what was lost, and by all means, DO grieve! Grief passes, blaming and complaining can go on forever (ask my mother! ; ), which if you let it, will keep you from recovering.

Failure can create huge losses and giant obstacles. Yep, failure sucks....alot. And it could take a long time to come off the floor of the giant pit you fell into when it all fell apart. Here is what is important, it absolutely does not matter how much you've lost or how deep that pit is that you're sitting in.

The only thing that matters is what you can do right now to rise up. Just a little bit, right now, rise up. Use music, a bite of tasty food, a good laugh, a walk outside, the smile on the person who just walked by, the sunshine, the rain.....any little bit of positivity you can take in, do it. Do it now and do a little more of it every day. You need it like breathing and it needs to be your new habit. So just do it. Rise up.

The old saying is, "Fall down seven times, get up eight." Maybe it's 5 times or 3 times, it doesn't matter, what matters is that after a failure you get up and you stay up and then you rise up. Don't stop. Keep going. You might as well, you're still breathing. And besides, the world needs you.

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