I never thought about winning any of my elementary school’s annual Mile Run races. I also never thought about the possibility of coming in last. In fact, I had no feelings about the race or that as a seven-year-old, I had never trained for anything in my life up to that point.
All I did was run. And fast.
Turned out I was good at running and from second to fifth grade, I was the fastest girl runner. And each year I ran faster, cutting seconds off my best times. (In sixth grade, however, I did end up losing by 1-second to the second fastest girl. She had enough of coming in second apparently.) It stung like anything else, but I didn’t berate myself or feel bad. I still broke my own record. I was still a good runner.
I miss those days of doing something for the sake of doing it. Not mulling over if I’m going to be any good, or if people will like me one way or the other, or what will happen if I do something wrong. I just did things, tried them out, and didn’t feel bad if they didn’t turn out well.
I miss trusting myself to simply try my best and to let that be enough.
Failures aren’t fatal.
When we grow up, everything gets amplified.
A break-up has us planning out the number of cats we’ll end up with when we’re old and wrinkly. Getting fired from a job makes us feel inadequate and frightened for our future — we instinctively think about everything we’re not (smart, successful, hirable.)
We lose the concept that we’re human, we err, we make mistakes. A lot. But we also learn a lot. We fail to look at our failures as a lesson. Even the most gut-wrenching ones have something useful we can walk away with if we allow ourselves the time to process. But we don’t, we’re adults and we’re too busy contemplating how our failures define us.
If only we could go back to the days when we could easily try things for the sake of trying them. No little voice telling us we’re no good, that we’ll only end up embarrassing ourselves; no narrative that starts off with “I’m not going to be any good at this, I can already tell!”
Trust yourself to do the thing. And keep doing it.
There are so many reasons to not go after the “thing”. When it’s too big, too bold, too audacious (all of which means it’s simply right outside our comfort zone), we find all sorts of reasons and stories to keep us from moving. We’re stuck in a pile of indecision and we can’t break free. This is how many of us do life.
We talk about the things, ruminate over them, and spend hours composing pros and cons lists. What if scientists were to sit around a table and only discuss their hypotheses rather than testing them out? Could you imagine? Where would modern medicine be then?
Reframing “failure” is a great starting point.
It’s a chance to do things differently, more creatively. It’s our chance to try an approach that perhaps frightened us at first, placed us too outside our comfort zone. We were playing it safe and didn’t trust ourselves to do more.
Failure is not the endpoint, and indecision about what to do next is an utter waste of time. Take your “failure” and dismantle it. Be the scientist.
Judging ourselves only leads to more indecision.
We are masters of self-sabotage. Pair that with being creatures of habit and we’re screwed. We screw ourselves more pointedly. When we get excited and take a few steps forward, it doesn't take long, if we’ve done this before, for the conversation to take an immediate sharp left turn, propelling us back to where we began because we let judgment seep into our work.
That little voice starts growing with every step into the unknown.
Even if we don’t particularly enjoy being in our comfort zone, it’s much nicer than heading into the Fire Swamp. Or so we believe.
The tricky part is this self-sabotage talks in our voice. It uses our language and it knows our deepest fears, which it speaks right into. You can’t help but think it's right in its judgment about what we’re trying to do because it knows us. It is us.
Bleh… it’s one big incestual nightmare. And there’s only one way out of it.
Do the thing anyway.
To do the thing anyway. To trust your self, your soul, your enlightened being that knows more than that little voice.
If you’re not into spirituality, this might be the time to begin trusting in something bigger than you, and what could be more divine than the passion that fuels your so-called audacious ideas. That passion you feel was placed inside you for a reason, as was your ability to trust. Trust that you have the skills to make anything possible.
You are not a mistake, and neither are the things that drive you. Stop the judgments, and the self-sabotage because those are the things that are keeping you small.
Lean into your discomfort and get busy trying things out, just as a child would. There is no judgment, no right or wrong, there are only passion and curiosity, and nary a thought about “will I be good enough” when you’re a child.
Go out and try the thing. And keep trying it not one way but a hundred different ways until it works for you. Remember, it’s been placed in your heart for a reason so try, do it, you’ll figure it out!
AM Costanzo is a wellness coach, a motivational junkie, loves a-ha moments, and loves to help people feel strong, powerful, and downright fabulous in body and mind!