This was too good not to share.
Nothing destroys self-esteem, creativity, and emotional energy like guilt and shame. Personally, few things cause this duo of negativity to show up for me like the feeling of not being enough after experiencing a “failure.”
Here’s the thing: How I feel about an outcome is directly related to my mindset and expectations going into the experience. Let’s examine this.
Re-Framing The Experience
A good friend once shared helpful advice following a disappointment I’d experienced. He said, “You didn’t fail, Sam. You just got different results than you expected this time.”
To the cynic, that may sound like ego-soothing semantics, but it’s powerful if you really examine this statement.
“Different results.” This is important because of the presupposition that some level of result was achieved. Frankly, no matter the outcome, there is always a result. It’s like a math equation; as long as something greater than Zero went into it (your effort), the product is something greater than Zero (the result).
“Expected.” Yes, I usually have some expectation tied to my actions, but just like with any science experiment, my hypothesis won’t always prove to be accurate. (This is pretty much how most of my science experiments in school went.)
Simply put, if I expect to reach long term goals quickly and without building up to them, I am setting myself up for disappointment.
I don’t want anything to go wrong, Sam. That’s what I’m trying to avoid.
Okay, I get that, but like the math equation and science experiment I mentioned, one tiny miscalculation can throw off the entire project. If I’m too focused on the end-goal, and not on a specific step, I’ll never understand what to change.
The point here is that a result shouldn’t lead to some judgement about myself as a person; all it means is that I didn’t understand all the variables or my calculations were off, which leads into my final point…
“This time.” Albert Einstein famously said that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.“
All of life is choices and experimentation. If this eating plan, this weight-lifting program, this relationship, this homemade volcano, didn’t go as I expected — I just need to tweak some variables and/or try a different approach.
If you’ve been figuratively beating yourself up with guilt or shame for not achieving the results you expected – it must stop now.
What’s done is done, and you can choose, right now, to forgive yourself, adjust expectations, and modify your approach for the next attempt in this experiment.
And keep it fun! What more awesome experiment is there than to discover something new about yourself? What could you really learn or be proud of if you mastered everything the first time you tried it?