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  • Writer's pictureCollette Ordano-Saunders

Failing Well

Updated: Oct 8, 2023

“Through experience, [people learn] what is really good and satisfying, what is truly worthwhile. As their]… capacity to understand the subtle Laws of Nature grows, [they] will gradually be set free.”

~ Ernest Holmes

(Jill is back, but feeling ‘under the weather', so Collette is stepping in again to write this week’s message.)

“Can I write this article, last minute, at record speed? Should I? Is this even a good idea? Maybe I should recruit someone more qualified? What if this is a mistake?” These are just some of the examples of the train of thoughts that can go on, so subtly, almost without noticing, in a mind that has been conditioned towards a negativity bias. So many of us - (I would venture to say most) - have learned, either directly or indirectly, to second guess and not trust ourselves. We have learned to judge and talk down to ourselves. We have come to believe that we are not good enough, or not ‘as good’ (making comparisons with others). We have been conditioned to see ourselves and our lives in less than ideal ways.

Lately, I have been talking with several people about that very idea; thinking of, instead, experimenting with life… of trying new new ways… of inviting ourselves to “make mistakes” and to practice “failing well”. There is actually so much helpful literature and philosophy available to reference regarding the built-in challenges with ‘what it is to be human’. In fact, I was just reading some inspiring ideas around how we might define “failure’; seeing it described as really just a thing of human nature. What was being suggested is that we have evolved to prefer proven ‘successful’ moves, and the approval of others, over anything that appears like it might be a ‘problem’, ‘mistake’ or ‘failure’. This bias is further solidified as we go through our experiences in school and at work, where we are rewarded for arriving at ‘the right answer’ and punished for getting to ‘the wrong answer’.

I feel grateful to have developed a pretty darn supportive ‘self talker’, despite all this. My ‘inner manager' can be pretty tough on me, but she is never mean. (Phew! At least I don’t have to contend with that!)

What I know is that there are no ‘mistakes’. There cannot be. That wouldn’t even make any sense, in our intelligently complete Universe. So, then, it doesn’t make any sense to suggest to myself that I shouldn’t write this article because I am not a practiced writer and I might ‘screw it up’, either. Was the star I saw tonight, bursting across the sky, and falling and catching fire as it flew on without a compass, ‘screwing up’? No! It was perfectly expressing itself in the moment that it was in… and it did so to my great delight!

Is it reasonable to judge how I look or live… to hold my life up against someone else’s existence? How could it be, when, as I walk through the woods and see all the unique trees, whether bent, gnarly, stunted or towering, I love them all equally, as a whole forest?

It’s not a mistake that the elements come together to create all of the landscapes we revel it, or that the oceans move with energetic polarities in relationship to the moon. And, when I encounter those creative waves that climb and fall along the shores of rocks and sands, it is no coincidence that I can dance up to my knees and know that I am made of the same components. The building blocks of the cosmos also form in some magical way to make up me. I am in the equation of Life. That cannot be a ‘mistake’ or a ‘failure’.

We are all having existential conversations, as we chart our way through a changed world with new challenges, whether big or small. Much has transformed for everyone in recent years, and it seems to continue on, faster and faster, all the time. So much ‘stuff’ has happened. The Centre doesn’t have a building right now, for instance. But that isn’t ‘a problem’… instead, we are taking the opportunity to be creative. Jill has been laid up at home since she returned from her most recent adventure… I am navigating that, and nothing is ‘wrong’. Artificial intelligence is on the rise… and people are figuring out what there is to do with it. Kids are going back to school after summer breaks… and families are adjusting. Information changes rapidly… and everyone is pivoting as fast as they can.

What if we all chose to experiment with our lives… trying new things, breaking cycles and patterns, implementing different ways of doing and being that we may have been curious about… starting something new? What if we chose to live from our own inspirations, rather than from all the other stagnant conditioning that no longer serves us? And, what if we championed eachother; living from that place?

When you are feeling under-resourced but you still need to rise to the occasion, maybe the questions that roll through your head, instead of doubts and judgements, could be more like these:

  • How do I want to do this?

  • Who’s got my back?

  • What if something awesome came from this?

  • How can I bring my whole self to the table, here?

  • Can I invite today to be about creativity?

  • Can I enjoy this experiment with life?

Can the ways in which we are deeply, truly inspired be “a mistake”? Can living our lives fully and freely, even though we may stumble and fall along the way, be “a failure”? I THINK NOT! Frankly, I don’t even think such thoughts should be on the table.


~ What are the areas of your life in which your self talk is less than kind, encouraging, and creative? (Maybe at work, with family, with something you are struggling to learn?)

~ Is there any area of your life where you may be comparing yourself unfavourably with others (perhaps folks you know, folks you see in magazines, online, or etc)?

~ Choose the area in which you experience the most distress or discouragement and dig into the messages of negativity that you may be sending yourself there. Write them down so that their shadowy-ness can be brought to the light.

~ Beside each negative message, write an affirmation to remind yourself that you are part of Life Itself, you are meant to be here, and that there is no such thing as ‘mistakes’, only opportunities to grow.

~ Take a moment to vision what your life could be if you chose to “fail well”, instead of playing small and “safe” and feeling stuck. Feel yourself there already (if you can dream it and feel it, you can do it).

~ Now, take a step in that direction (and write to tell us about your experience, if you like: Use these questions as your guideposts:

  • How do I want to do this?

  • Who’s got my back?

  • What if something awesome came from this?

  • How can I bring my whole self to the table, here?

  • Can I invite today to be about creativity?

  • Can I enjoy this experiment with life?

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