failure as a label of our judgemental mind
If I tell you that failure does not really exist, you might be skeptical at first. We go through our lives with worry about the past and the future. Worry that is generated by our ego, more specifically by our prehistoricOS. One of the object’s ego generates is FEAR (with capital letters). We FEAR not to fail. Not to fail others, not to fail ourselves or more precisely, not to fail our belief system. All these objects are products of the past or future but when we realize, that they are not real, that they cannot really exist in the now, interesting things start to happen. All this might sound too woo-woo, but let’s take a story from real life. My own story.
My whole life I have been a huge fan of tennis. In my junior years, I used to train hard to maybe one day become a professional. Tennis was a big thing in our family. My father loves this game and he decided to teach his son. From a very young age, I felt this weird sense of pressure while playing in tournaments. On the training ground, I felt invincible and people were whispering that maybe one day I can become a great tennis player. On the tournaments I sucked. Suddenly a totally different person entered the court. A person who was scared to death of losing, scared of failure. My father was always very encouraging, positive, reminding me to enjoy the game, but I just could not. There was no pleasure in the tournament for me, just absolute fear of losing, fear of failing my father, a fear of failure. As the years went by, I have realized that I won’t become the next Pete Sampras (yeap, getting older). Tennis gave me a great game, a great tool for how I can enjoy and celebrate the aesthetics of the athletic movement. But it also installed the belief system that I have carried with me for a long time without even realizing it. Many years later, after I have entered the tennis court, I have felt the same tension as in my teen days of my tournament plays. I was wondering how is that possible? There is nothing at stake, I no longer perceive it as a potential career, no longer there was a father watching how I play. How come the very same feeling comes again and ruins my game as it used to when I was a young aspiring tennis player? By observing my game, my thoughts, and my self-talk, I have noticed that nothing has changed since then. Even after many years have passed, I was still suffering from the massive anxiety, anxiety of fearing failure. I have decided I need to beat this once for all. That it does not serve me, it never did and I want to enjoy the game to the fullest. First of all, I have noticed, that the way I have commented on certain balls, had a very negative connotation. I immediately realized I need to change that. I have realized that I need to dramatically fix my self-talk. From being judgemental to not being judgemental. When backhand was out, it was out. That’s it. No other attributes of self-judgment. Second I have reminded myself, how do I wanna feel during the game and started to visualize it many times during the match as a reminder whenever I started to feel more anxious. I wanted to play with ease, have fun, be playful like a child. Third, I have realized, that losing is totally ok. That it is not a matter of love / no love. That is not a matter of approval or disapproval if I lose. Forth, I have changed my belief system about myself and my game. They say that the mental game of tennis is won long before you enter the tennis court and it is true. So I had to force my mind to believe, that it is totally fine to lose, therefore I have nothing to lose. Every time my mind drifted towards the judgemental side, negative self-talk, or worrisome mind, I have fixed that on the go with non-judgemental terms. Like a bad posture. You keep trying to stand straight until one day, you can walk straight. I have reminded myself how do I wanna feel as I play and why I love this game.
So what is the point of talking about this? I believe this is a critical part of our programming. Our mind simply works like that. It can have different deviations, but more or less we can encounter similar obstacles in other endeavors of our life, be it in business, parenting, or sports. Now, I gave you some practical tips on how to change your behavior but it is also important to break down the logic that held me back, the logic of FEAR of FAILURE. I would like to break it down into its fundamental form and use an axiom to destroy the logic behind it. Because there is none.
What you see in the picture is a break down of the statement: FEAR OF FAILURE. Fear is a product of the Ego. Failure is a dualistic view (failure/success), an object of judgment. It is a product of fear and it is triggered by our belief system. In our belief system, we have all different beliefs about ourselves. The most important part is that it is the object of judgment. What do I mean by that? The failure does not really exist. It is our belief system, our mind that is labeling something as a failure but is it really a failure? If you lost to an opponent that was simply better, did you fail? Let’s say the score ended up 6:1, 6:1 for your opponent. The non-judgemental approach is that by rules of the game, the game was won by the opponent. That’s it. That is the non-judgemental stating of the facts. But because we are “convinced” by our belief system, we can easily label it as a failure. What if it ended up 7:6, 7:6? Would you consider this score even more as a failure? The score is binary. It is black or white. You won or you lost. Attaching any judgemental belief is just an artificial product of our belief system, it does not exist. Now how can we break this logic even further? Let’s use an axiom in a form of a poem:
I think this speaks for all. Failure does not exist, because if you agree with an axiom that “the only thing we have is now”, the present moment, then failure cannot exist. Why? Because it is a product of a judgment of our mind about the past or future. Because we are ever-changing human beings in a state of constant flow and past is the past and future have not been written yet. Be present, non-judgemental, and over time, failure will cease to exist.
Thanks for reading.