I relapsed this month.
Why am I telling you this? Usually one tries to hide and minimize failure, and here I am pointing a spotlight on it!
It’s because I’ve found a bright side to failure. It’s not all it’s shamed to be. Failure has a poor reputation. We think it’s to be avoided, hidden, and minimized.
But what if we detached shame from failure and just looked at it non-emotionally? What if we gave failure a second chance?
That’s what I want to do in this post, by sharing a few of my recent failures with you and how they’ve actually been a good thing, if I let them.
Ya’ll know I did the Tummy Team Core Rehab Program last fall, and experienced wonderful results—back pain completely gone, growing enjoyment of my new strength and alignment. I did good for 3 months, staying aware of my alignment, keeping up with the little movements, stretches and functional excersizes I’d learned to attach to my every day routine.
But this month I relapsed. Maybe it was being sick and low on energy, maybe too much toting around of a little girl who only wants to be held when she’s teething, maybe it was an 20 hour road trip with too many hours curled up in a car seat. At any rate, by the time we got to NY, my back was spasming for the first time since doing the program.
I realized I had failed. I had relapsed. I had shifted back into old habits of lifting without engaging my core, of carrying Lydia too much, of being lazy in those small moments that mean so much for proper alignment.
I could have freaked out. Except I realized something—the very definition of relapse is to “fall into a former state” (re: back, lapse: to slip. See, I remember a little Latin, Mom!). I had been here before, but the fact that I had to go back to get to this place of pain, meant that I knew the way forward.
As much as I could while on our trip, I re-implemented the stretches and alignment cues I’d learned in the program, and when I got home I reviewed all the printouts and printed a new chart for me to keep track of my movements (I like checking things off).
It was that easy. My back felt better within days, and best of all—I didn’t let failure trip me up. I let it show me the way forward.
More on Failure
I’ve been teaching my kids to draw, using the book my mother used to teach me 20 years ago. I love Mona Brooks because, more than just a “how to draw” textbook, she teaches you a mindset toward the creative process that embraces failure as part of the process and actually puts it in a good light.
Artists know about “finding lines” but I think the rest of us need to learn this principle. When sketching or painting, one doesn’t often find the right line or shade of paint the first time. You have to try a few strokes first to find the one that looks right. After finding the right line, the finding lines will be erased, or just ignored or shaded over.
When teaching a child to draw, there will be a lot of what they call wrong lines. The key to gaining confidence and developing skill as an artist is seeing those lines as helpful guides toward the true angle or curve they want. In art class, I often remind the kids of the value of mistakes, and show them how doing it wrong can lead to creative discoveries in their artistic process.
What if we saw failure as “finding lines”? As guides bringing us closer to the best course of action?
What if the new routine you tried doesn’t work? What if a recipe fails? Then we’re that much closer to finding what does work, right?
We know this in theory, but what would it look like today if you quit being afraid to fail the first (or second, or third) time? For me it looks like me “sketching” up a new morning routine for our school today, even though I fear it won’t be right the first time. Yikes. How silly of me to put it off for so long—failure is actually part of the process of finding the right rhythm for our mornings!
And finally, “No”
My husband got home the other day I greeted him with the exciting announcement, “I said no to something today, and it felt so good!”
When I first started learning to say “no” instead of always doing what I think would get me the most approval from the masses, it was a stressful, emotionally draining exercise. Jeremy would come home and I’d collapse weeping into his arms, having said the word that meant I was choosing what was best for me and my little family, at a huge expense of energy.
It was rather messy and dramatic, and didn’t at all feel like a positive thing.
But after several years of practice, I’m not so afraid of meeting up with “no”. Once freed from the burden of pleasing everyone, and focusing my energy on what God has called me to (always a much lighter, joy-filled task!), I’ve learned to see “no” as an ally. Kinda like that friend of yours who’s personality is almost annoyingly different than yours, but she always sees things from a different angle than you, and can give amazing perspective and advice and ideas you’d never think of.
All guilt and shame aside, “No” is actually a friend who promises an alternate route with amazing views and refreshing breezes.
Part of the Beauty?
I used to be terrified of failure, going backwards, or having to say “no” to someone or something. But I’m learning to see the beauty in these steps. Maybe it’s because life is more like a waltz than a race, with just as many side steps and backwards movements as forward motion. And it can indeed be beautiful.
Tell me about a failure you’ve had this week, that actually has a bright side, will you? It will help me be brave to finally sit down and rework our routine. 😉
This post contains affiliate links. I think. I’m not very good at adding them. I experience failure a lot in that area. LOL Finding lines, right?