The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Healing Emotions #6: Expect Failure

There is never, ever a straight line to any worthy and challenging goal. This is one of the rules we learn in childhood, and then arrange to forget every single day. Why?

Well...the "Hero's Journey" details the not a circular path (ending back at the beginning) but a four-dimensional spiral traveling through time, space, emotions and personal evolution. A true journey ends with the person NOT back where they began, but beginning the next level of their development. They may "return to the village" but the very act of bringing "the elixir" changes their status, and therefore the nature of challenges and opportunities they will face next.

And this is where it gets dicey: the ego perceives change, either positive or negative, as "death" and will fight to maintain homeostasis. That means that if you attempt positive change, it will work to sabotage you, UNLESS that change is in alignment with your self-image and pre-existing belief patterns and values. Ever wonder why it's so hard to lose weight? Increase income? Improve relationships? There you go.

And in terms of healing your heart, you'd better grasp that if you have a pattern of self-harm, or attracting and accepting people who harm you, some part of you is getting off on it. Believes that this is what you are worth. An ugly, ugly truth.

And that part, that does NOT want you to change, will make you forget that this pattern of growth is always, 100% of the time (for all practical purposes) accompanied by failure. Look at any skill you've ever acquired: walking, talking, riding a bicycle, whatever...and realize that you failed again and again. Fell down. Bruised yourself.

But you got back up again, and kept trying, or you never would have learned. We lose this as we get older--our ego shells are thicker, less flexible, more convinced that we "know" who we "really are." So when we resolve to change, then take action, and begin learning new skills, it is inevitable that we fall on our faces. Depression returns. The inappropriate relationship resurfaces. We pick up a cigarette. Break our diets. Get writer's block.

And if we interpret this as signifying that "we can't", "it's hopeless", "I can't do it" and so forth, your ego has fooled you into believing that you ARE your internal images, beliefs and values.

Once again, ego wins.

But if you take the long view, look at what the Elders of the world's villages have been saying about the path of life (and have been saying it for at least 10,000 years of recorded storytelling) you will get the joke. Realize that "failure" is just a sign that you were one of the very few with the courage to step up to the plate, and take a swing at the ball.

Celebrate your courage. Pick yourself up. Get back on the horse. You are bloodied, but unbowed. "Failure" is just a part of the process. Re-commit to your values and goals. Remember that you are the only one who can set yourself free.

Keep going. Never quit. If necessary, cycle back and get more allies, more resources. Believe in yourself. Love yourself like you would love your own most precious child.

Understand, before you begin, that YOU WILL FAIL. Understand also, that if you pick yourself up and keep going, YOU WILL WIN. That is the message the village elders have been telling you. Life is a bumpy road. It is tough.

Be tougher, dammit.

Life is not a dress rehearsal. Every day is a new chance. But there is no time, no room for self-pity.

Love yourself without mercy.

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