The Joy Of Failure
I have decided to sit down and write these thoughts after receiving this title from the Universe. Yes, exactly, from the Universe. And I think right now, it is absolutely the right moment. I will explain why, but for now, let me give you my background. I was born in the 80s and grew up in a small town very close to the countryside, in the north of Italy. At that time, we didn’t have mobile phones. I would spend most of my days either inside, on my own, watching TV or outside playing and running around with the other kids. But to be fair, I don’t remember much until I was 13/14 years old.
The first memory I have is of my father beating my mother up – I was 5. The second vivid memory I have is of my father, shouting at my mother in the middle of the night holding a heavy glass ashtray and ready to hit my mother with it. I took the ashtray from his hands and for the first time I remember thinking: “Do not become a failure like them”.
I spent the next 10 years giving them what they wanted from me, to make sure I could receive what I needed to survive in a very unhealthy environment, emotionally and mentally speaking. In the 90s, in a small town very close to the countryside, in the north of Italy, the word “abuse” was used only for very heavy events and mostly to define “sexual abuse”. It was only a couple of decades later that that word became the common seed to define any kind of violence, including physical, verbal, emotional, and mental, which is exactly what it went on until 2015 at my parents’ house.
I grew up in a house where the words love, happiness and joy were never mentioned and they were often replaced by the words sacrifices, compromises, and hard work and so I became an adult thinking that a relationship or having a family or even life, it was all about sacrifices, compromises, and hard work.
I wasn’t a good student at school and honestly, I didn’t like school at all. I didn’t like the smell of it. I didn’t like how boring it was. I didn’t like the lack of freedom, the lack of alternative teaching methods. I didn’t like the subjects. I didn’t like the heavy books but mostly, I didn’t like my mother shouting about education. And so, one day, after coming home once again with a mark she wasn’t happy with, she finally says “You are a failure!” And that is a concept that also my father was using, referring to me when I didn’t want to wear the expensive clothes he would buy me without asking.
Now that I am proudly a very balanced, strong, and aware adult, I decided to spend some time writing about something that in my family has always been a big thing: being a failure.
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But what does “failure” mean exactly?
So, if you look it up on Google, as the first result, you are going to see that the first meaning is “lack of success”.
But what is success? Again, if you look it up on Google, the first meaning is “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose”. Now, it is not written anywhere that success must be financial, economic, educational or career-related but somehow, in our society, these have become the primary meanings. If we see someone driving an expensive car, wearing brand clothing, buying the most expensive things, with a tense look on their faces, we define them straight away as someone successful but if we see someone driving a city car, humble, wearing modest clothing and genuinely happy, we wouldn’t probably even notice them.
So, the moment I finally realized that my parents and I were giving a different meaning to the word success, and so failure, it was a game-changer for me.
Success to me is “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” on a personal and emotional level which includes love, compassion, personal growth, and happiness. The word “failure” to me is the “lack of success” in a specific moment in time and in a particular materialistic matter, which gives me feedback on what didn’t work, so I can manage to do it again better, already knowing what doesn’t work.
Failure to me is simply a mistake, an opportunity to do something better; it has got nothing to do with money or wealth.
It is also temporary, and it doesn’t define a state of being.
If you make a cake and it is a failure:
- It doesn’t make you a failure,
- You can understand why it doesn’t taste so good and make the necessary adjustments to have, as a result, a better cake next time.
So, when I finally understood what “failure” meant to me, I went on failing happily ever after.
I failed at my 2 first relationships so I could have later on a very meaningful one. I failed at some friendships so I could recognize the real value of a true one later one. I failed at taking care of myself as a young woman so I could understand exactly the importance of it years later. I failed at picking the right jobs so I could understand very clearly later on what I was meant to do on this Earth. I failed many times having very shallow boundaries until I was able to understand what it meant. I failed to realize the meaning of life for so many years until finally, I got it right.
We make mistakes, we fail, we learn, we do better. We are human.
What does success mean to you? And failure? Are you living your life following somebody else’s sense of success or failure? How is it working out for you?
I would love for you to take 5 minutes of your time and write down 3 values you use on your day to day for each of these areas of your life: Family, Work, Relationships. When you are done, I would like for you to look at the lists and answer these two questions: “Are those my values or somebody else’s, something I have been passed on through my family, at work? How are these values affecting my decisions?”
Learn through experiences
Our experiences are meant to be learning events to improve ourselves and future outcomes, so why is society obsessed with perfection and money, making it a collective belief that if you are not loaded, you are not successful and therefore you are a failure?
Why are we pressured since we are kids to operate following standards without even having the time to think if those standards belong to us or not, if they represent us or not, if we want to live our life around them or not? How many times has the teacher at school told you you didn’t study enough, or you weren’t focused enough, or you weren’t going to do much in life, or you had no future? And how many times did the same teacher compliment you for something that you did very well?
How many times at work did your boss tell you your performances weren’t like expected, or that you weren’t fast enough, smart enough to get that promotion? And how many times he praised you for an achievement? How many times your parents compared you to other kids supposedly “better” than you or underlined more than once what you couldn’t do very well based on their idea of you?
I bet that the negative feedback you received are way more than the positive ones.
I want you to stop for a minute and think how all these negatives affected your life, how what your teacher said affected your decisions about your future, how your boss’ comments made you question your ability to do your job, how your parents’ beliefs about you affected the way you became. Take your time because this quick exercise could give you very painful insights you never thought of before.
When you are done, I would love for you to think and replace in your head those negatives with something extremely positive that your teacher, your boss, and your parents completely ignored and I want you to take a moment to scream out loud all those positives and think how all these positives could affect your present and future decisions. How could they affect the way you relate to others, to your family, to your friends. How could they affect your motivation, perhaps? Visualize, smell, feel, hear the changes you could make with this renewed state and breathe it in, hold the state, and give it a name.
My one is called “the fXXXXXX just do it” state, feel free to borrow the name if it resonates with you.
Now I would love for you to go back to the first exercise, go back to that piece of paper with your values on it and re-write them right now, whilst you are in this renewed super cool powerful state. Are they the same as before? All of them or only some of them? There is no right or wrong answer here, this is you tapping into a part of yourself you never knew existed so take the time to familiarize with it.
Are the new values you have written down setting you up for success? Are these values empowering you, are empowering the people around you, your environment? Are you living your life following these values?
Do you feel completely out of your comfort zone now because you realized that you sabotaged yourself all your life based on somebody else’s belief? Whatever you are feeling or thinking right now is completely normal. Your brain has suddenly taken a new path without knowing where is heading. Uncertainty is scary but it is the place you have the chance to rewrite your life from, it is the place of growth, of self-development, of self-love.
Take your time, define your success, rewrite your story. We all deserve a second chance.
This is dedicated to all those human beings on this Earth looking for their own truth.
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