In my downtime I’ve been browsing through some books about emotional self-care. One of them is Self Compassion by Kristin Neff, and there was a sentence that really resonated with me in an early chapter.
“Surely if I just try hard enough I should always be able to succeed, shouldn’t I?”
For me, this sentence conjures up a lot of negative thoughts I’ve told myself when failing before, such as:
“I failed because I didn’t try hard enough, I just need to try harder next time.”
“My hardest wasn’t good enough, I need to get better.”
“I did everything right and I still failed, it’s just something I can’t do.”
“It’s my fault.”
It’s easy for us to fall into negative thinking and self-blame, but the truth is that actually sometimes you can do everything right and still fail. It can be a matter of timing, it can be a minor detail overlooked, it can even be due to someone else’s choices or other external influences that you couldn’t have been aware of.
Failure happens sometimes, despite all our efforts. It’s okay.
We can all be too harsh on ourselves, telling ourselves stories like this.
But then we’re ignoring how much luck and chance is involved. You can always improve your chances, open yourself to more opportunites to have good fortune, but success can never be guaranteed, the best you can do is push the odds in your favour.
I’m going to take this quote as a mantra, because of the answer I want to nurture for it.
Q: Surely if I just try hard enough I should always be able to succeed, shouldn’t I?
A: The answer is no, so don’t beat yourself up about it when you don’t succeed, okay?