We need to talk about failure

20 Oct

I have been reminded again, in the last few days, of how hard we find it – as individuals and as a collective – to talk about failure. To have the difficult conversations about life-gone-wrong, dreams destroyed, hopes dashed. It is the sense of a loss of investment that is especially painful and hard to process.

What sort of investments have you made where the outcome has been more failure than reward? Have you ever experienced a broken heart? The sense of loss experienced by the broken-hearted tends to be raw and brutal. Have you invested money and ended up feeling cheated? Have you sought to pursue your dreams, only for them to be seemingly dashed on the rocks in a cruel, thoughtless gesture? Have you experienced a marriage where love has grown cold to the point of complete freezing? Is your child/partner/spouse aloof and emotionally absent?
Is work frustrating these days – you don’t understand why you’re just not getting promoted like you had hoped and you’re terrified you might lose your job soon? Or maybe you already have?

I believe that you are not alone. Nor am I. Failure – life not always going our way – is part of the human condition. Unpleasant yet ever-looming in the background. So why do we find it so hard to talk about? To admit fault/humility/egocentric tendencies? To talk freely about how the failure of others has shaped us and our hopes, dreams and expectations?

Maybe we need to become a bit more honest. Talking about failure gives others permission to do so too. We take a long hard look in the mirror then let others see our reflection too. For if we refuse to do so, we simply perpetuate the power of the hidden truths (that we have not shared) to haunt us in the sleepless nights. We beat ourselves up again and again because that which is kept in the dark has power over us. Such power dissipates when we bring these things into the light; it has to, for darkness can never match the power of light.

Today’s blog is written from the heart – a plea for failure-conversations to become part of normal life. Surely I am not the only one who wants to be able to find freedom in telling the (whole) truth, consigning taboos to dark corners as I talk about failures, yet choose myself to live in the light.

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