Mucking around and coming clean

mucky boots

Moving past a fear of failure

Have you ever avoided trying something new or different, something unknown, to protect yourself from the possibility of failure? Who hasn’t, right? I certainly have. It’s hard not to when we are conditioned to believe that the goal is perfection. And that anything less than perfect is a reflection of our worth. 

This can show up as procrastination and in abandoning ideas or projects either before we finish them and, in some cases, before we even start them. This fear of failure and its close relative perfectionism are killers of creativity. They are often at the root of the feeling of being “blocked.” 

Sweat it out

We unblock ourselves by getting the juices flowing. In the most literal sense by moving our bodies, especially in ways that bring heat, fast breathing and make us sweat – think running, aerobics or dance, or competitive sports. These activities stop us from overthinking and connect us to our most primal nature, returning us to our power, our ability to bring energy to something, to sustain that energy, and to recover through the natural, miraculous systems of our bodies. 

Getting past blocks also requires that we take action towards our goals in the spirit of learning, tapping into the oft-quoted advertising slogan to “just do it.” 

This is something I must constantly work at and so earlier this summer I took some action. I jumped at the chance to try something different. I was excited and also terrified of the start of a new partnership to teach in person yoga classes. I went all in, working to prepare classes, promote them, you name it. And guess what, it fizzled out just as quickly, bringing with it disappointment and hurt.

Setbacks as decision points

That’s the thing about wading into new territory, we can’t anticipate every aspect of the terrain. What we hoped might be a walk in the park, turns out to be a hike through the bog. With no galoshes. At that point, you get the opportunity to choose whether you want to learn how to hack it in the bog or you want to retreat knowing that your lesson was, the bog is not for you.

It sucks to wind up with a bunch of muck on simple walking shoes, but once you wipe them (and your ego) down you see that it was a valuable experience. Maybe even fun for a time. It’s just as important to learn where you don’t want to be as it is to work towards a goal. And you never learn that if you don’t act on it. 

The act of doing, of experimentation, stepping outside our comfort zones, helps to rewire our brains from that ingrained, shame-based fear of failure. The next step, the next leap becomes easier. We become more willing to try and to learn things just for the sake of learning, to see the playfulness and lower the stakes. 

My favourite translation of the Yoga Sutras, by Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher Isherwood, offers this reminder:

“No failure is ever really a failure unless we stop trying altogether – indeed, it may be a blessing in disguise, a much-needed lesson.” 

May you have the courage to take a leap on something new. Let me know how it goes in the comments or if you can relate to this.

Try this to reframe rejection

A feeling of rejection or exclusion can bring with it a sense of loneliness, but there’s an opportunity to view this as necessary solitude. This perspective calls on the energy of the seventh chakra or the yoga philosophy of detachment. Rejection protects us by influencing who or what is in our life.

What helps me to work with this sensation is to approach it with a spirit of inquiry. Here’s something to meditate on or journal about if you’re feeling this: What is the purpose of my present solitude? Am I working with or against my environment?

These prompts are from an oracle deck that I turn to for a shift in perspective or some spiritual guidance. It’s the Chakra Wisdom Oracle Cards by Tori Hartman. Thank you, Tori.   

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