Whether we initially jump to remember our successes or failures, we should take stock of both the high and low points. The successes and failures allow us to connect with our emotions and deeper learning from those experiences. Though the triumphs prompt us to feel more celebratory towards what we’ve accomplished, we can also train our minds to look at the failures in a similar light.
First, we must accept our perceived failures for exactly what they are, failures. Through this recognition, we can identify with what those failures felt like at the moment and what they feel like now. Alongside the emotions that bubble up, we can also observe how these memories arise through physical sensations in the body.
So we begin by bringing ourselves back to that moment of perceived failure. What did it feel like? What emotions were involved? Who was involved? Accepting our own failures can be a challenge, so if we find ourselves avoiding the subject entirely or step into the role of the self-critic, we can internally repeat: “I give myself permission to feel and witness failure. It is okay to fail. I am always learning through my failures.”
Once we call our awareness back to recalling the experience, we can continue to become observant of what comes up through the body, breath, emotions, and mind.
Of course, no one likes failure, whether it’s a minor slip up or a larger event. Inevitably, our emotions will stir as we confront our failures, but this is the natural process before transformation can occur.
As difficult, awkward or uncomfortable as it may feel, we can open the gateway to allow the failure and everything involved to be seen. If we felt regret from the failure, we can label it as just that, regret. If we felt disappointment from the failure, again, we can label it as just that, disappointment. And if we are steered away towards other mental stories around the failure, we can simply repeat the first word that comes to mind, for example: frustration, frustration, frustration. Once we zone into the main reactions of our failure, we invite the failure to release.
There are many techniques for emotional and mental release, but it is always important to acknowledge what you are letting go first. One method is repeating a statement like, “I see you (anger) and now I release you (anger).” When we are able to identify with the source of what we are sending out, we not only confront the truth around it, but we remove the tendencies towards avoidance and/or attachment. When we are exploring this form of release, it is important to notice what is happening in the body and the breath as you repeat this statement. If you feel emotions arise, welcome them. If you feel the breath excite, observe that experience too. Once you repeat your personal statement enough until you linger into a state of calm, notice. You can ask yourself what shifted: the breath? Sensations? Emotions?
Failure doesn’t always have to be viewed as shameful, embarrassing, and the spectrum of other relevant emotions. Instead, failure can sometimes hold more power than our successes in positive ways.
After we have observed the gamut of thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations associated with the failure, we can ask the question: “What has this failure taught me?” If you are having trouble locating what that lesson is, we can further inquire with: “What did I do or not do that resulted in the failure?” “Did it negatively impact me or someone else?” “Knowing what I do now, how would I approach the situation in the future?”
As before, we simply watch to observe. What comes up? Is our lesson rooted in career growth? Relationship growth? Individual growth? What has the lesson revealed about how we interact, how we use our intuition, how we use our willpower? Questions like these can be a starting point for how we can guide ourselves into the deeper meaning.
What happens when we finally understand the lesson? Like anything that we learn in life, we increase our knowledge and wisdom. When we enhance this personal growth, we gain more inner power. We discover something that we otherwise wouldn’t have if we did not experience the teaching. Once we identify the lesson, we can celebrate a new growth that will lead us to a new, future success. And just as we acknowledged the failure, we can also acknowledge the success in our new learning: celebrate this learning as an aid to your growth and future success.