The majority of us have made New Year’s Resolutions at some point in our lives and very few of us have achieved our goals for change. Most of us think we know how to fail and are searching for how to succeed. What if I told you figuring out how to fail is the key to success?
We are afraid of failure for many reasons, but mostly because we believe we have to earn our value through accomplishment. In other words, if I identify my value based on success or failure I am unable to view my failures without believing “I am a failure”- which is pretty scary! Some of us don’t even try to set goals unless success is almost guaranteed because of this fear.
Our goals to change start off positive and we feel encouraged. After typically less than a week into trying to make desired changes we start getting off track, returning to old habits. What was once positive becomes negative, we shame ourselves for failing and believe it will help motivate us to change. It does not. We get further stuck and then give up completely.
By changing our view of failures as an opportunity to learn and grow, rather than further evidence that “I am not enough” or “If I fail, I am not ok” we are able to widen the lense that we see ourselves through, rather than the narrow lense that does not allow failures to come into view because they are so scary to look at when they represent our value. Changing our view of failure means “if I fail, I am ok”.
Using self-compassion to combat self-critical thoughts and guilt/shame triggered by failure is the key to motivation toward change. We try and try again, knowing we will fail and fail again. Self-compassion breaks us free from getting stuck and giving up. Click here for a audio guided mantra by Kristen Neff to practice self-compassion in response to self-critical thoughts/failure.