We need self-compassion to track, lose, and await the return of our focus with patience. About once a week or so, someone tells me that their life has been going swimmingly, until a major stressor disrupted it. They lost their job, saw an unkind ex who is doing really well, or have come to the conclusion that they will never have kids or get married but want to. Mired in this newly found and consuming mess, they feel their focus take leave along with their well-being, and sense of security.
It is clear that their focus has not gone. Well, it has certainly not left in the conventional sense. It is simply hiding. The same thing you would probably do, if you had promised your boss all the happiness in the world only to have him discover that he had been pursuing the wrong things all this time. That is how we feel, when life persuades us that we are no closer to feeling happy, secure, and settled after months or perhaps years of hard work.
Failures And Their Indirect Paths To Success
The problem with life is that it is not linear. Most failures actually bring you closer to the successes you need to be happy, but because this is not immediately evident, we have a tendency to believe that they are simply indications of wrong turns, and our own unworthiness. Self-Compassion is an important practice because in working on self-compassion you will see peaks and valleys like those we have just mentioned that occur in your life. In this experience, you will also have epiphanies that you will realize have required failure.
So, why don’t we just accept that failures are an indirect path to success? For one thing, it is hard to know what you have gleaned from a failure amidst the wreckage of a potential success. The feeling of failure is a particularly unpleasant one, and social media has provided us with a constant reminder that people not named us are winning. Darn them! Of course, social media leaves out the part, where these same people are also experiencing frequent failures, but that which we cannot see will probably always deceive us.
Grieve The Failure To Regain The Focus
Following this logic, we understand that failure provides us with ample hardships. Self-Compassion reminds us that these hardships must be acknowledged. They also must be grieved. If you are feeling low, and you bump into a despicable ex, who is having amazing success, then you are going to suffer. If this suffering is inevitable, why not grieve the suffering?
Be honest, the ex is an ex for a reason, so there is no reason to dwell on them. Some part of you knows that getting back together with them would be like sleeping on a bed of nails. Sure, you would have great posture, but it would be way too uncomfortable to merit more than one sleepless night.
When we grieve loss, we are able to open up to self-compassion and kindness. Once we are on the mend, we begin to get a sense of what is really important. Our focus returns, and is even sharper than before. Our roadmap to success is made clearer by this experience, and we feel renewed.
We have a new purpose. We remember why we did not want to stay at the job we lost or left, or be with that ex. We have already wished them well enough to not carry the burden of their experience. Now, we have the resources available to refocus on pursuing the values and meaningful life that fills us with joy and ease.
Don’t Give Up The Promise Of A Good Meal Because Of The Reminder Of A Bad One
After explaining this to a friend in the past, they asked me if my new experience would not still be tainted by one of these past failures. I simply replied, “If I have to walk past ten smelly restaurants to get to one I can appreciate, I am going to make that walk every day. How will I be able to think of the smelly restaurants, when I am otherwise engaged in a delightfully, delicious meal?” Failures are like meals gone bad. Do not stop eating because of a couple bad meals. It gets better, so long as you grieve the bad ones, and give yourself permission to enjoy the good ones.
365 Days of Self-Compassion. Day 145. In The Books.