Here's a truth about failure: it's part of how we learn ANYTHING new.
I just taught my 5-year-old son how to ride a bike. He despised the whole process. He hated stumbling. He'd get pissed when he fell. He didn't like not being good. He angrily sat in a cul-de-sac at the other end of our neighborhood with tears in his eyes and refused to scoot his training-wheel-less, sans pedals bike home (I teach kids to ride bikes in strange ways) and avoided his bike (failure) like the plague for 7 days.
He asked me to put his training wheels back on. I refused: "I hear you believe you can't do it, but I believe you can. We can take a break, but I won't put them back on."
On the 8th day, within 8 minutes, he was [...]
riding his big-boy bike with the biggest of grins on his face.
I see it with my clients ALL THE TIME. Whether it's reluctance to try-on new skills, avoidance of speaking their needs out loud, or down-right refusing to give their partner accurate feedback the nano-second their heart sinks. Doing and saying things in new ways drudges up all our triggers and fears attached to failure.
"What if I make it worse?" "What if I do it wrong and it doesn't work?" "What if I fail?"
A big part of my job as a therapist (and mom) is believing in people more than they do, figuring out where the belief break-down is occurring, massaging those beliefs into beliefs that are working and sometimes that means breaking skills down into manageable steps: "I hear you think YOU CAN'T ride your bike....let's just try to scoot and balance for 2 seconds with your feet in the air. YES!! Now 3!! You did it!! When we get to 10 we'll put your pedals back on!!"
It's a tad bit more complicated with therapy, but the idea's the same.
When we avoid failure, we also avoid success.
You have to start thinking about failure differently if you want big change.
You want to know something else REALLY interesting about failure? The more confident you are the better you are at failing. It's actually easier for you. When you're confident in yourself you know that this conversation not going perfectly doesn't mean you're a "bad person" or that your marriage is "doomed". You know this "failure" of a conversation is just helping you get MORE and more clear about what you want, who you are, and how the person you're interacting with perceives you.
FABULOUS! Now you have the opportunity to improve, learn, and make things better. That's it.
But most couples I work with come in avoiding these failures of conversations because they haven't been taught the mindsets and next steps that make dealing with tough conversations a lot less intimidating.
Conversations spin in circles. "Nothing changes." And the emotional state of the pair decline slowly over time.
When trying to get different results, you'll need to do new things...and you'll need to be ready to fail again and again. The ONLY way you're going to learn what works for your partnership is to try new things, observe the feedback, adjust, rinse :), repeat.
Did you know Pharrell recorded 9 versions of the song "Happy" that were rejected before coming up with the song of the year? NINE TIMES!!
What successes have you been avoiding? Where do you want big change?
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