to get straight to the point … so many of us feel like failures because these days, there’s only one other option.
I finally got words for some of this listening to Brene Brown’s Braving the Wilderness — a pointed look at how we’ve become a culture of “other-ing.” Due in large part to social media and the high speed culture we inhabit, it’s a second-by-second quick-sort into categories:
Am I (and are you) a Republican or a Democrat? Ketogenic or Vegan? Attachment Style or Ferber Method? Gun rights or gun control?
We are “US” and you all are the “THEM” and the information we’re inundated with each day suddenly becomes much easier to sort and process.
The most prevalent type of sorting I see each day in my work – and the kind that breaks my heart the fastest – is this:
SUCCEEDING OR FAILING.
We assume that each person, including ourselves, in each moment or task falls into one of these two categories. We start with ourselves and slowly sort things that fall short of our own standards as FAIL and label mountain-top experiences as SUCCESS. The process becomes faster, louder and more externalized; we apply it to our daily world experience and – suddenly – we’ve also labeled everyone around us a succeeding or failing on a moment-by-moment and post-by-post basis.
Quick show of hands: How many times have you scrolled through social media or sat through a meeting and unknowingly dropped yourself into the FAIL category because someone else made a point of their SUCCESS? Can you feel that drop in the pit of your stomach already?
One more question: How many times have you given up or veered off course because you can’t SUCCEEDED! anyway? (Like… can’t get an hour workout in anyway, so just sat around and scrolled through the internet. Or decided that the prescribed food plan isn’t gonna happen this week so Culver’s it is…)
OK. Let that go for a sec, because I’m going to tell you a couple things that kind of mess up this tidy, binary, cultural system we live in:
- Every seemingly “successful” human being is screwing up too, while probably assuming that someone else has it all together.
- There are SO MANY ways to walk toward the vision we’ve created for our lives that can’t be labeled.
My darling, tender, kick-ass hearted humans: I’m screwing it up even as I write about the process of screwing up. I make about 10,000 decisions a day that aren’t ideal. I make probably another 10,000 that are slowly moving me in the direction of who I want to be. And I constantly (CON.STANT.LY.) fall into the trap of assuming that the slips make me a terrible business owner, coach and partner. Then I write off alllll those wins as not nearly good enough. But I practice something over and over that I’ve learned from both my teachers and my students:
A vulnerable, hurting human said to me me yesterday : “I know what to do. I know how to eat. Why can’t I just do it?”
Another said “Hey! I decided that while my video game was reloading, I’d just do 5 reps of that exercise. It was a tough level, so I ended up with a lot of reps. <shoulder shrug>”
We can’t “just do it” because we assume that there’s one thing that will finally drop us in to the SUCCESS category. I am so excited to inform you that the big “IT” that will finally flip the switch doesn’t exist.
The big, unsexy, answer is : do 5 reps while a video game is reloading.
Or a few on-purpose breaths while the kids are loading into the car. Or eating some carrot sticks with that piece of pizza. And counting those wins so many times that your brain recognizes that you’re on a path to incredible things and allows you to sort yourself – and everyone else who’s flailing around – into the SUCCESS category.
HOMEWORK! Grab a journal or hop into the comments below:
Where in your life – internally or in relationship to others – are you labeling “SUCCESS / FAILURE” in a way that’s just making you frustrated?
What are five seemingly unimportant things you’ve done this week that are nudging you toward feeling energized, loving, productive or whatever the hell it is you want to be??