I apply an extreme amount of pressure on myself to get it right. Getting it right means that I am a winner and getting it wrong means that I am a failure. There is no gray area in this for me.
Failure has always been a fear of mine and it doesn’t matter how big or small the fail is, each experience of it wears me out.
This morning I cringed as I thought about how I have this inability to say the word “interesting” like this: IN-TRE-STING. I can only speak it how I see it spelled, which is: IN-TER-ESTING.
When I say it, the speech impediment that I work through often reveals itself and so I only say it in the way I feel most comfortable saying it. Because I am unable to pronounce this one word like I have heard it pronounced hundreds of times before by others, I find failure in that.
Go back and reread the last sentence I just wrote.
The aha moment I just had is that most often, my fear of failure is actually the fear of feeling the feelings I have regarding what my experience looks like in comparison to others. It has nothing to do with the fact that I feel as though I failed. To break it down. Failure, for me, usually is about how my failure measures up to the person or people around me. Deeper than that is realizing that it isn’t just the measuring up but also how I feel they feel about my measuring up. Crazy right?
In this instance, not being able to say the word interesting isn’t the problem nor where the fail is. The feelings of failure come into play when I internalize that I can’t say a word that others seemingly say with ease, and find that to be unacceptable. Probably based on the fact that I have been laughed at for mispronouncing words before and I didn’t like how that felt. Because the reality is, just like in most things, there is no failure here.
I am working my way through this right now because I had something else in mind when I started writing this. Isn’t it amazing how thoughts about one thing can open up a revelation about everything?
This one example has made me realize just how much I have limited myself. I can replace the act of not being able to say a word with the act of not being able to do _________ and find that the reason I feel as though I can’t is because I am not doing it like someone else is doing. And I feel bad about that when in reality I shouldn’t.
So what have I learned?
Failure is surface and quite plainly, a mind bully. Underneath it is a host of many other elements, usually centered around insecurities, that give it, it’s power.
What am I going to do moving forward?
The charge I have is to get to the bottom of what my feelings are when I find myself cringing or sweating or running away from an experience that I am in. Because if I do this, I can find what I am afraid of and work through it enough to move forward. It’s all about perception. And if I can only see failure as something to be scared of, I’ll never be able to see what’s under it and that’s where my liberation is.
Now, where is the alcohol?
Also published on Medium.