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What You Can Get From Failure

failure podcast Nov 19, 2019

Can't listen? Here's the transcript: 

Today I would like to talk about how failure can actually be one of the greatest gifts in our lives.  So many of my clients start out on their dethroning journey completely unaware that they have been living their lives trying to ward off all forms of failure. 

Why is that? Basically, fear of failure is really a fear of feeling any negative emotions. Most people don’t recognize that they are spending so much of their emotional energy trying to avoid feeling any emotions that feel uncomfortable. This has them scared to do anything that would risk failure.

At the heart of avoiding failure is a belief that you have to do something perfectly or you have to make sure it will go exactly as planned, or else you will feel a negative emotion that you don’t want to feel. And this is a direct result of your Inner Critic ruling your mind.

When our Inner Critic is in control of our minds, we feel out of control with our feelings and behaviors. Remember that our Inner Critic is all about trying to protect us from feeling any pain. So when we feel something that our Inner Critic labels as negative and painful, this becomes unacceptable. 

We question our ability because of our Inner Critic’s unrealistic expectation that failure is something to avoid and is unacceptable. Our Inner Critic is programmed to focus only on what she thinks is wrong. So that is what she is always looking for in our lives--what’s wrong, broken, unacceptable. She has been habitually thinking negative thoughts that create negative feelings for your whole life.

Most of her fundamental beliefs about you and your life are actually recycled thoughts.  So we don’t even recognize that she keeps us in a perpetual state of self-doubt and fear, because this is just the way we’ve always thought. It feels familiar to you to spin in these familiar beliefs because you have always had them.

That’s what our beliefs are: thoughts we think over and over. Some examples of how our Inner Critic views failure include: failure is a weakness, I don’t have what it takes to be successful, I don’t know how to do that, rejection is the worst thing that can happen to me, taking risks is too scary, and I have to feel confident before I can take an action.  

When you understand how to stop listening to and buying into your Inner Critic’s beliefs about failure, you have the ability to see failure as the gift that it actually is.  Imagine if you were no longer afraid of failure, judgment, or disappointment. Imagine what your life would be if you were able to experience all of these things and still feel okay. 

If your Inner Critic has been in charge of your identity for your whole life, then you might have very fixed ideas about who you are supposed to be and the life you are supposed to be living.  And if you continue to compare yourself to who your Inner Critic thinks you should be, you will continue to experience fear, worry, and doubt.

Because when you compare yourself to your Inner Critic's ideal version of you, you are never good enough.

In order to stop feeling these feelings, it is imperative that you learn how to manage the thoughts in your mind. You have to develop the ability to catch your Inner Critic in the act of regurgitating the same broken record thoughts about who and you should be and what your life should be. 

When your Inner Critic is trying to prevent you from feeling fear, your life becomes very small, because you are more worried about losing protection from humiliation, rejection, embarrassment, and isolation. Your Inner Critic is focused on maintaining the illusion of safety, security, and predictability. 

But really, when our Inner Critic is in control of our mind, the opposite happens. We are not safe and secure, because we are now just failing ahead of time. We’re not going for our dreams and creating the life we were meant to live, and instead are keeping ourselves stuck in the same circumstances because our Inner Critic has convinced us that failure is not an option. 

And staying stuck is the very thing that creates the MOST suffering, insecurity, and unpredictability. So it’s ironic that the very thing our Inner Critic is trying to protect us from, she is actually producing more of!

Here is what failure really is: It is nothing more than redirection.  It shows you where you shouldn’t be. Failure is actually an opportunity because it gives you a chance to re-evaluate what didn’t work and to come back stronger and with better decisions.  And unlike your Inner Critic would have you believe, failure is NOT fatal.

It might be very uncomfortable to fail but the good news is you get ANOTHER shot to try it all again and keep going for the results you really want in your life. But this time around it’ll be a lot easier to get what you were aiming for.

Being someone who has failed abundantly while growing this business, there is one thing I’ve learned: even if I might fail, making progress is completely worth it.  Because my failures are simply a side effect of my way bigger vision to create a movement of empowering women from the inside out to step into their greatness. And since that vision is so much bigger than me, I had better learn to tolerate failure! 

As I am making my vision a reality, I wouldn’t trade the lessons I have learned from my failures for anything in the world. My lessons from my failures are actually part of what has kept me on the path to making my dreams a reality. All of my failures along the way continue to guide me towards my ultimate vision.  And along the journey, I have to constantly Dethrone my Inner Critic so that I can trust the process, which includes the failures.   

My Inner Critic’s theme song is, “You’re not good enough.”  And with every failure, she is right there screaming in my ear. So I always say, “Thank god for this work.” Because without it, I assure you I would definitely not be on the journey to transform mental health without it.  

I am now working with businesses training their leaders, I am creating a certification program for women who want to create a business to impact change and build a better world, and make a difference for people and communities. I have women throughout the world in my programs and none of this would have happened if I had listened to my Inner Critic define my failures. Instead, I would be avoiding any possible scenario which would have me feel like I am not good enough.

Some examples of the thoughts I have to think on purpose every day to dethrone my Inner Critic are:

  • What other people think about me is none of my business.  It’s 100% about them. (that’s my favorite)
  • I was born to do this— this is my calling.
  • The worst thing that can happen to me is I feel a feeling.
  • Fear is not a big deal.
  • My potential is limitless.
  • Failure earns success.
  • The better I fail, the more confident I am.
  • Worry is just a habit of my Inner Critic
  • Do the stuff I am afraid to do— rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat.
  • Give up approval.

This last one is big for me.  My Inner Critic has spent my whole life trying to find approval. In my ongoing work to dethrone my Inner Critic, I have had to constantly catch my Inner Critic in comparison mode. I have to catch her making up worse case scenarios in my head. Heck, she actually makes up entire conversations in my head that someone is telling me that I am not worth it or not good enough. 

She can actually get me in a mood when nothing has actually happened! It’s hysterical if you think about it. When I choose the thought, “Let them judge me. Let them be wrong about me. Don’t live in fear of the haters.”  I return to my Authentic Self.  

Life is all a game— in the end, we all die.  So I am going to play this game full out! In the end, we will all have actually controlled very little. And our Inner Critic’s want to control it all!

Our Inner Critic assigns all of the meaning, so we might as well lay it all out and then choose with intention what we make it all mean instead of letting our Inner Critics dictate what it all means. 

Because when you see her meaning isn’t a fact, it’s just a story of the things in our lives that we are so scared of. They are really meaningless until we assign meaning to it. So we have a choice to see failure, judgment, and rejection as we always have, which is through our Inner Critic, or we can see it through the lens of our Authentic Self.

Tesla founder Elon Musk is known for his popular quote, "Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll land among the stars." He prides himself on having a "resume of epic failures." 

I know for myself that I am interested in playing the game of life full out. And that means when I am shooting for the moon, I will face failure along the way. And when I face failure, it is ALWAYS uncomfortable for me. The journey I am on is never a comfortable one.

I am constantly having to dethrone my Inner Critic, who seeks approval and acceptance from others. I am always pushing against her. My Authentic Self knows that my self-confidence comes from only needing my own approval and that I learn by the actions that I am taking step by step. 

And this is true in my relationships, my parenting, and creating a life in which I am taking care of myself rather than getting lost in doing more and more to get to some arrival point that my Inner Critic expects.

Failure has taught me to step into something greater than myself. It has taught me to live a life in which I am catching myself in the automatic fear generated by my Inner Critic and then stepping into love when I return myself to the thoughts that are in alignment with my Authentic Self.  

Your inability to take action in the ideas and dreams you have for your life--whether that’s creating a healthy body, designing your dream career, or not being so angry at your spouse or kids--comes down to the way you are thinking.  Your thinking drives everything. And most of the time, you are thinking the thoughts generated by your Inner Critic. Your thoughts are always in your control.

So when you know that and practice that, you never have to fear any feelings ever again.  You can risk failure because you know that you have control over your thoughts. And having control over your thoughts allows you to have control over your feelings. And since everything you do in your life is a result of you wanting to feel a particular way, then if you learn how to think differently about failure, you will feel differently the next time you fail. 

Why this is not taught to us in mainstream education? It is why the mental health system is broken--because no one is taught how to think. So even if people are doing great things in their lives, they are still governed by the same fears that their Inner Critic whips up.

After the 2012 Olympics, Michael Phelps said, he became suicidal. By 2014, when he got his second DUI, he admitted he was “running from something,” adding, “I wanted to die. I straight wanted to die.”  This is because he was listening to his Inner Critic tell him that if he was not a superstar, he was nothing. So, he was so paralyzed by the fear of failure, or not being the best that he became suicidal. He said, “There are people who love to win and there are people who don’t like to lose. I think for me, I just didn’t want to lose.” Can you hear his Inner Critic running his thinking?  

We have become a culture that is so obsessed with winning and succeeding and getting life to match some ideal picture that our Inner Critic has of who we’re supposed to be and how life is supposed to look. And so many of my clients come to me because they are living lives that surpass their wildest dreams and they are still miserable. Because they don’t know that their Inner Critic is the one who has been ruling their life.  And when you know the difference between you and your Inner Critic, you are living your most powerful life.  

Is Your Inner Critic Keeping You From Success?

Find out what your Inner Critic is saying to sabotage your success and how you can move past her limiting beliefs. 


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