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Feeling Failure

Failing hurts and that’s ok

If you have worked with me before, you know how much I value a growth mindset. In fact, it is not uncommon for my friends to roll their eyes and mock me because I say too often, “Embrace failure. It is a good thing.”

Well, easier said than done.

Last week, I gave a coaching session that was probably the worst I have ever done- partly because it was a new topic for me but mostly because I came into it with the wrong mindset. It is completely fair to say, I was not at my best. And it showed.

Afterwards, that nasty Inner Critic went to town on me- telling me how horrible I was and how I shouldn’t be a coach and how my client would suffer immensely because of my incompetence. I tried to go on a walk and shake it off, but this failure felt like a rope around my neck, choking the life out of me. I had a horrible pit in my stomach and an aching in my chest. It was miserable.

The interesting thing was that as I was wallowing in my pool of self-condemnation, I received 3 texts, each with a big win for my business. You would think that those texts would lift my spirit and allow me to celebrate myself.

But, no, they didn’t. In fact, my brain completely dismissed them as relevant information and took its focus right back to my failure.

As a coach who specializes in neuropsychology, I was fully aware of what was happening in my brain - my Negativity Bias was screaming at the top of its lungs, and it seemed like nothing would deter it from focusing on all my problems and failures. And I also knew that when my brain gets stuck in this negative space, telling myself to get over it or celebrate the wins or think positive thoughts was not going to work. I needed to feel the pain of it all.

So, I went on a walk and just allowed myself to feel all of it - the disappointment, judgment, frustration, fear, and overwhelm. I invited all these emotions to join me on the walk. I listened. I waited. And then I met all those emotions with compassion. “Of course you feel that way. You care deeply about your clients. And when you aren’t able to show up in the way that you want, that matters to you.”

That quieted it down a little, but not completely. I still felt an overwhelming sense of sadness.

I went home, made dinner, and mostly passed the evening in silence.

Then, as I laid there in bed, I took some time to come home to me - my physical body - breathing into that sadness and disappointment. Again, a little release, but not totally.

I woke up a couple of times in the night, my mind racing right back to that event. I allowed it. Taking in deep breaths. Telling myself, “Yeah, I know. That was hard.” It released a little bit more.

In the morning, I woke up with a sense of dread for the day. And again, I gently reminded myself that it all makes sense. This is all part of the human experience. It released a little more.

By the time I got to my office, the disappointment had quieted to a low hum. I again met it with some deep breaths and, “It is ok that you ‘failed’. I am not giving up on you. I still believe you have a lot to offer the world.” It seemed to slowly fade into the background.

By the time I finished the day, having had some amazing sessions, I was able to come back to my wins. And this time, my brain did not dismiss them. I was able to truly celebrate myself. In fact, I told my family, they whooped and hooted, and we went out for tacos and a movie!

Here’s what I was reminded of in all of this and wanted to share with each of you:

1) Sometimes we feel negative emotions. Nothing has gone wrong. It is part of the human experience.

2) Sometimes we simply need to feel it all, not conquer it with positivity.

3) Sometimes, this takes time. It takes coming back to it over and over again- each time meeting it with compassion and understanding.

4) There is no rush. The point of life is not to escape the pain, but rather to feel all that life has to offer- the good and the bad. That is how I know I am alive.

If you are in a cycle of pain, know you are not alone. This is common to all of us. If you feel like you need some extra support processing through a painful experience, then I’m happy to have a conversation with you. Not as someone who has somehow transcended the experience of pain, but as someone who knows how to support myself (and you) in the midst of it.

Feel free to email me at or sign up for a free mini-session

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