The Sense Of Failure

 Sense Of Failure

Where Does Our Sense Of Failure Come From?

I’ve been thinking about this concept for a couple of days now.

Some of us carry this sense of failure around with us like our favorite purse or suitcase. We don’t even realize that it has totally overstayed its welcome.

This sense of failure has us doubting ourselves sometimes and even causes us to bury our gifts and talents.

I am interested in trying to uncover where this sense of failure comes from.

As a writer, I am still haunted by the thoughts that I haven’t done a good enough job and that I’ve somehow failed at what I was called to do. I dig deep to try and figure out what the hell would make me feel that way after self-publishing 7 books, maintaining a blog, becoming a new mother, starting a dream interpretation business, and constantly working to recreate myself? Even with all of that going on, I still have this black cloud of failure hanging over my head sometimes.

In order to uncover the unconscious feelings behind this monster, we have to understand what we are dealing with.

Let’s Define Failure

Failure, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, is defined as an unsuccessful person and a lack or deficiency of a desired quality.

Hmmm that is interesting.

An unsuccessful person? Unsuccessful according to whose standards?

Could our sense of failure be prompted by a totally unsatisfiable inner boss? Or maybe our sense of failure is prompted by unreasonable demands, comparing ourselves to other people, or a standard set so high that it would be impossible for anyone to reach. Or maybe the sense of failure comes from our inability to accumulate a decent salary for what we do. It could be anyone of those things above that cause us to feel like we’ve failed.

I think that there are several factors that go into our sense of failure. One of which I think has to do with the society we live in and how we are brought up.

Uncovering Our Sense Of Failure

From a young age, we are worked into a system that is based on rewards. In school we get graded, get gold stars if we do well (according to their standards), and pats on the back if we are good listeners. The athletes of the school get medals and trophies if they display physical stamina and strength. We thrive off of rewards, and those things cause us to feel a sense of accomplishment.

Move forward to the job field. Our bosses give us raises if we perform and meet our quotas. They give good reviews if we are displaying the behavior of a “good employee”. Some companies even give rewards in the form of monetary compensation and promotions to their “best employees”. Again, utilizing the rewards system.

But what about when we are out of school and not under the rule of an authority figure? What about the artists and the independent consultants that don’t necessarily work with that particular grading system or don’t get rewards to say they are doing a good job?

The Journey Seems Unquantifiable

As writers, if we don’t get approached by a publisher, get monetary compensation, get enough likes on one of our posts, or get approached to be featured on other blogs, or other forms of recognition, we seem to equate that with “I am not good enough” which then translates to, “I have failed”. Which is not accurate to any degree whatsoever.

Getting paid for what you do is a skewed sense of success, but so often we define our success by how much we get paid.

Getting published is a skewed sense of success, but so often we think that that’s what makes us worthy of being called successful.

Getting validation by thousands of followers is a skewed sense of success, but too often we think that more followers equates to our worth. More likes means that we are worthy to express ourselves.

These are all skewed perspectives.

What if we don’t get paid for our writing? What if we don’t have thousands of followers? What if the people who read our blog don’t hit like? Does that mean that we are worthless? Does that mean that we are unsuccessful?

Yes It Does

If you are looking at success by those particular standards.

We have to broaden our idea of success. Success has nothing to do with how many likes you get on a post, money, or if you are approached by “someone who is popular” about your art. Those things are all things to be grateful for – yes, but they are not what should determine if you are valuable or not.

We need to take the time to realize that we have actually created something and offered it to the world. Do you know how many writings go unread? Do you know how many paintings never see the light of day or that music is discarded because people believe that they aren’t good enough. That is not you though. You actually have shared your artistry with the world and that should be enough to notice your value, but to some of us it’s not.

Waiting around for someone to validate how good you are leads to nothing but heartbreak when we don’t get the recognition that we feel we deserve. Waiting around for someone to recognize your value and offer you a job or monetary compensation is not healthy either. What if those things never come around? Does that mean you are worthless?

Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth. {Author Unknown}

I’m An Artist Too, and I Understand How You Feel

You should be getting credit for the work you put out into the world, especially if it’s uplifting.

You should be getting paid for sharing your artistry with the world.

You should be reaching more people, and those people should be hitting the like button and commenting, especially if your words or artistry has inspired them.

But too often, these things don’t happen. I just don’t want you to get discouraged and to give up because you fear you have failed. It’s not an accurate perspective.

We downplay our accomplishments because we feel we have nothing to show for it, especially as artists if our artistry hasn’t reached the audience that we would like it to. We have nothing shiny to show to our friends. We have nothing to put on display. We have nothing to show for it, but that doesn’t mean that we are not successful.

Think of how many people may have read a post you wrote who were inspired to just live another day. What if you saved a life today?

As Artists, We Have To Redefine Success

It is critical to our well-being. We cannot have this skewed perspective about success and then expect to feel fulfilled when we are not meeting those standards. It’s impossible.

Instead we have to start seeing success as the improvements we are making to better ourselves. Every step, every change, every acknowledgement that we offer ourself should be going up as a gold star on our wall towards success. Every time we feel joy and freedom when we are creating in our field should be a gold star on our wall towards success. We have to build ourselves up and stop waiting for people to come around and validate that we exist and that we are relevant. I am talking to myself as well.

I Will Leave You With This Story

I look at my son, who is 5 months old now, as he tries to crawl, and when he falls down slightly frustrated with his progress, I never once say he has failed. I see the tenacity in him, and I know the next day (after a good night’s sleep), he will wake up refreshed to try it all over again. I see the smile on his face when he recognizes that he has moved a little closer towards his goal (my plate of food or the tv remote with the light-up buttons). He has such wonder in his eyes. He never thinks about what he wasn’t able to do the day prior. I think he has something in him that knows he has this ability, and he works everyday towards doing what he innately knows he can do, and he will get there.

That, in essence, is how we should feel. We know deep inside who we are and what we are capable of. We will never be completely done, but each day offers us a chance to get better and better at our craft, whether we get the recognition or not. Each day offers us a chance to be able to see how we have progressed in our artistry, whether we get credit or not. Each day offers us a chance to feel more joy about what we do and how we do it. That criteria should be the criteria for success, and we cannot fail at such a thing, because we are never done.

I have a new song for you all to check out. It’s called Masterpiece by Jessie J, and it is the perfect song for those who feel they have failed in life. Essentially, we are all masterpieces and we aren’t done being created yet. I even think of a play on words for this title. I think of Master Peace… I am still working on my Master Peace as well (the ability to master my inner world and to feel one with that).

Thank you for reading!

What do you feel you have failed at in life? If you redefine failure and success, are those thoughts still valid?

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2 thoughts on “The Sense Of Failure

    • Thank you for taking the time to read the post. I am so sorry that you feel that way. Sometimes we are so hard on ourselves. Sometimes we don’t even realize that the voice in our mind that tells us that we have failed is not even our own sometimes. It’s our mother speaking or our father or the teacher that told us that we would never amount to anything. We have these ideas of who are are supposed to be, when we already are who we are supposed to be. We are just working to uncover and discover the beauty in that… It’s an interesting concept to ponder. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in the comments. I really do appreciate it.

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