Allowing Innocent Failures

Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay 

When was the last time you tried something new, something you didn’t quite know how to do?   I want to hone in on one form of self-limiting belief – not inner doubts, not anxieties about the unknown, not your inner critic.  I am focused on the way we use the story of ourselves to set conditions for what we imagine to be possible.

I am currently in what feels like a mega-learning cycle – learning the Feldenkrais method, learning about myself in becoming a Feldenkrais practitioner, learning about developing my business to support my practice, learning, learning, learning.  I am grateful for the company I am privileged to keep in these processes of learning, the friends I have met to share our experiences, questions, the heartaches of life happening when what is falls apart and the joy of who and what we connect with along the way.  So in a recent conversation, I heard someone say, “I feel I need to have a good sense of what is underlying the lesson in order to be able to teach it.”    On the surface that makes a certain kind of sense – you need to understand what you are teaching.   It is tempting to follow the question, “How do you come to understand what you are teaching” to solve the problem.   This is a good question of competence – you might need to take the lesson several times yourself from other teachers, to study the lesson for yourself, to talk to others, to read what the author of the lesson wrote (the teacher’s notes). 

Press pause. 

Let’s restate the question, “What do I need so I feel I can teach the lesson?” This is also a question of confidence – what do I need to feel confident enough to teach the lesson for the first time.  Or the second time.   Or the third. Good question.   A question of confidence brings us to our inner sense of capability, our relationship with our fears, how much we feel we can rely on ourselves in an unfamiliar situation.   How our sense of ourselves is marked by the historic experience of trying and failing.   What is your inner name, the name you call yourself after making a mistake?

We don’t have innocent failures as adults.  Like the first time a child tips the milk over when trying to grab it, not knowing how to hold it, how much strength to use in her grip – it just happens – spilt milk.  

(Bless those sippy cups.)

As adults, many of us have learned how to listen to the voices inside, the ones that keep us from doing something reckless, that keep us protected.  We can lose our intimate relationship with risk – to dare to try, not blindly but facing the risk of the new.  Being with our initial, innocent failures with kindness, even friendliness.  We succumb to a pressure from within, the voice that tells us to set conditions and then, only then when you have met those conditions can you even think about trying.   How are you framing the attempt? I am reminded of the Thomas Edison quote, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

What do I need so I feel I can…..start something new?

Allow for innocent failures.  Invent mistakes. Learn from there.  Grow confidence in your resilience to learn.


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