What about when you fail at something you’ve worked your ass off for, when you’ve taken all the carefully-researched, right steps, when you’ve dotted every “I” and crossed every “t” on the journey, and yet, you still fail. What about when you’ve done this over and over again, for years and years, intent on achieving the goal you set out for yourself? What about when, each time you fail, you tell yourself positive affirmations and extend gratitude to the universe —as you’ve been instructed by others who have pursued and achieved the same goal as well as many self-help gurus and, her majesty of all positive-thinking, Oprah?
What about if the failure breaks your spirit over and over, sends you into a deep depression, and, yet, you still persevere only to be met again, over and over, with more failure. And what about if you ask the universe/those-in-the-know/friends/family why? and what am I doing wrong? and the replies are all I don’t know. Nothing. Wait. Be patient. It’s just a matter of time before IT happens.
And, what about the guilt and depression you have about your failure, especially when so many people tell you that you are so lucky to have had the small successes you have had in a field that is so difficult—impossible, even? Or, even more depressing, when people say to you but you have your health and a good family! And the guilt on top of that guilt, because, these people are absolutely right—I have had some small success within this field (publishing), I do have an amazing and healthy family, and despite a large tumor in my colon being removed recently, I have my health.
Or, add to this my own self-flagellation in the form of negative self-talk: Aw, play me a small tiny violin. You didn’t get your books published. Boo-hoo. That should only be a person’s worst problem in life. Followed by listing all the people who “have it worse”.
The thing is…my failure to get a book deal has nothing to do the goodness or badness of my family or health. It also has nothing to do with how good or bad another person’s life, health, writing career are either.
And to be technical, that type of logic is not logical at all. It’s a form of what they call in CBT, cognitive distortion in the form of overgeneralizing.
Basically, my repeated failures to get a book deal and the way it has affected me have zero to do with other areas of my life that happen to be going well.
This overgeneralizing is something I had to finally get over and accept. I do tend to feel guilty about just about everything. That is another problem to discuss for another time—guilt, magical thinking, and control—all good topics to discuss especially when it comes to failure.
The reason I tell you this is that I am officially owning my failure, owning its significance to my life, to my writing, to who I am. I am letting go of the guilt I throw over it, the way I have of attempting to whitewash it. I am going to openly and completely tell you my story of failure in the writing world. I am going to tell all of it, without allowing my fear of what you may think of me. I am going to tell it because we all have a story to tell and that story matters, no matter who you are or what you do, your story matters because you are here.
--> So, get ready because if you are interested, I’m about to tell you a really good story about how I tried and failed to make my dreams come true and then found meaning and purpose to my failure. To read the full story, head over to my failure blog