The Power of Failure: We Get to Decide What It Means

Happy Woman

“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make one.” ~Elbert Hubbard

Why does this affect me so? What am I feeling? Sheer Anger! Total disgust with myself. Hatred and disappointment in my life stain my thoughts. Why? Because in my ego’s opinion, I should already be who I am meant to be, and I am not there! Not by a mile.

I feel so much disgust. My fears and resentment have grown into hatred and pain. I am at a loss for who I never became. Full of shame, I see that I have wasted my life—or so I perceive it that way.

It is hard to accept this. I am so sorry that I have failed so frequently at empowering myself. Seriously, what extremes must I take to wake up and say, “I am finally okay with myself; I am here, warts and all”?

Instead, life has molded me, shaped me, and created me where I am right now.

Tears of anger fill my eyes. Why pursue so many times my desire to make something of myself? What am I making?

What did I expect to have happened already? Who did I think I was supposed to be? Fear, disappointment, and sadness shadow me as I have moved on.

Now I am asking myself, “What would someone who loves themselves do?”

It struck me, what if I decided to define what I believe I failed at? As I looked at my life, what I perceived as success and failure started to unravel.

I was learning how I defined each of these two words. This was a monumental moment for me.

Because I experienced my power at a young age of believing I could do anything, believing that I could make anything happen, I concluded in my late twenties, as one dead end led to another, that I couldn’t maintain, sustain, or become successful at what I really wanted.

Attempts to open a restaurant failed as investors backed out. My joy and passion as a pastry chef failed at so many corners, it drove me mad. As a successful pastry chef in Chicago, my experience in my move to Seattle changed my belief.

Several jobs within a year, eventually attempting to do something on my own, I faced many frustrations. With enthusiasm from being told I was one of the best vegan pastry chefs around, I thought I could make a success of myself—and yet, no one would hire me. Why? 

Was it not clear just how much I was dedicated to making this happen? Was it not understood that I used my last cent to give it my best shot? Penniless, having moved five times in one year, dealing with a car accident and my dog running away brought me to one dead end after another. I finally surrendered, and gave up.

When I reflect back on my life, I can see that if I had succeeded in these endeavors, I never would have worked on my own healing and opened up to my own gifts as a healer. Fate or destiny had another plan for me.

My definition of failure became clear to me. It didn’t help that I believed I could not make much money. (Or was it that I believed I wasn’t worth a lot?)

Because I lacked the skillful means to ask for help, needed to improve my coaching skills, and had minimal computer skills, I felt like I didn’t have the strength to sustain anything on my own (especially as resources back then were considerably different than what they are today).

I felt it had all led me down a big black hole that I defined as failure.

Then one day I sat down and made a bullet list showing all the failures on one side and all the successes on the other side. All of a sudden I had a light bulb moment where it was clear that I had more successes than I ever thought.

I began seeing my strengths. Looking at my failures and successes this way has changed the charge I have on it. I’m not afraid of ideas, or starting something and making something out of nothing. This is not failure!

As I continued looking and decoding my thoughts, I could see that I connected my self-worth and self-esteem with money and earnings in my definition. That is not success. That is all about old beliefs and being stuck in them.

I have changed in twenty years. And now, I can see how different I am. My past is not my future. My worth is not based on money, talents, or what I have proven to myself or the world. Success is not a destination; it is how we choose to live our life on a daily basis.

I can only now see this. At a young age, there was no way I could see it..

Life needs to create “failures” so we have two viewpoints to reference from.

I’ve recognized that I am quite successful at many things. As I looked at my successes on my bullet list, I realized that I need to market my strengths and hire someone for the things I’m not great at. Maybe even get a coach. As my excitement bubbled up, for the first time in my adult life, I felt I was becoming myself.

By redefining this word “failure,” I learned that I am able to move forward and embrace who I am becoming.  The guilt, the anger, the wishes and desires that shadow my past can fade away.

The illusions of who I was and who I am can fade as my authentic self emerges and rises above. I get to create success now through my choices. I can rejoice that I have made it thus far. For me, that is magical. I feel I am enough.

That is how someone who loves themselves gets to decide what failure means.

Photo by Ian D. Keating

About Shakti Chionis

A lover of life, magic, and miracles, Shakti has made a journey of self-love committing to 365 days asking a profound question "What would someone who loves themselves do?" Join her blog and discover how she reclaims her authentic self at 365 Days...Expect a Miracle*.

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