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Permission To Fail. Miserably.

June 30, 2009

I’m afraid of failing. And not being loved. Who isn’t, right? That’s why I am going to share what’s going on in my life;  I am hoping it can help you, too.

Over the past year I’ve made huge life changes, and if you read this blog regularly I’m sure you’re well aware of them. If it’s your first time reading, welcome, and here’s some background. In the past year I’ve:

  • Dedicated myself to becoming a full time life coach and writer, which meant I decided to
  • Quit my job – the one with the health insurance, benefits, regular paycheck, and ability to make me cry on a daily basis
  • Written one fun gift book that has been rejected by at least four to six publishers
  • Been published in a local magazine three times
  • Started various blogs, settling on this one as the One
  • Coached over 20 beautiful human beings on life issues ranging from job changes to self worth to dealing with scary in-laws
  • Spent more than my fair share freaking out about my own life changes and how I may not make it and should be trying harder because pretty soon the girls (cats, Nola and Coconut) and I are going to be homeless and living behind the grocery story, praying they throw away some dented cans of beans

Honestly, I thought I’d been holding it together pretty well. I have been facing my money issues, learning quite a bit about myself, helping other people, reading, learning and writing. Yesterday, though, I realized maybe I am not letting my light shine quite enough.

I was being coached by one of my lovely coaching buddies and though I went into the session with hopes of being coached towards a clear plan for attracting more clients, the session quickly descended into the land of snotty toilet paper. That’s right, within about 15 minutes I was crying unstoppably and, as usual, had no tissues in the house, so to the bathroom I headed for my trusty roll of paper.

The tears went on for the entire session. My poor coaching buddy; she was doing such a great job of exposing my false beliefs and showing me that I wasn’t being completely true to myself, but I think my endless gusher of tears was probably a downer for her!

I believe we all have a guidance system inside of us that will lead our lives if we listen to it. You can call it what you want; stargazer, essential self, soul, inner being, inner guide, Labrador retriever, source energy, the list goes on and on. I’m going to call it my essential self, because this is my blog and I’m the one doing all the typing and thinking.

So, my essential self shows me it’s super excited about something by jumping up and down inside me and making me feel happy and exuberant and full of joy. I love that feeling! It means I’m going in the right direction. (And when you feel it, you’re going in the right direction, too!) So why don’t I always live life as directed by my essential self? Um, because that would be scary? Because people would probably look at me funny for wearing my reindeer pajamas at the hair salon? Exactly. We have another, usually stronger voice going on in our head. It, too, has lots of names, but I’m going to call it the social self here. (FYI, I’m again blatantly stealing these terms from the woman who trained me to be a life coach, Martha Beck; “essential self” and “social self” are specifically referenced in her book Finding Your Own North Star.)

The social self wants you to live a good life, it really does. It makes you put on pants when you go to work, smile at the cop that pulled you over so you don’t get arrested, and generally keeps you out of serious trouble. However, it often becomes way too strong and throws you out of alignment with what your essential self wants. It tells you not to quit your job because that would be ridiculous, especially in this economy! It tells you to stay with your husband because the neighbors would gossip about you if you left. It tells you many, many stupid things that will prevent you from living your best life.

My social self, whom I call Prudence, has been telling me lots of stories lately. Mostly that being a life coach and writer is a scary, unpredictable profession and I’m probably not going to make enough money to even buy a single package of Ramen noodles once a week, let alone travel the world, buy a bigger house, or eventually have children. Therefore, my essential self hasn’t really had a chance to come out lately.  Which is probably why I was crying so much yesterday.

It is so damn scary to make life changes. It is so scary to listen to that little voice in my head that wants me to do things that “regular” people don’t do. To do things that are “unusual”. To do things that I”ve never done before. But I’m stifling the very thing that got me on this path, the right path for me, in the first place. My coaching buddy encouraged me to spend some time with myself after our session to try to coax my essential self out of hiding; to tell her (Liberty) that she can come out and play.

Liberty led me to write a long rambling note of things she’d dig, and following are some highlights with my notes in parentheses:

  • Book with pictures
  • Meet more people
  • Take classes like yoga or art to meet more people
  • Please let me take an art class
  • Flowers in a field
  • I want to hike more
  • I want to look at the sunset more
  • I want to meet other people who hike and help them (to make their lives better, I’m pretty sure they already know how to hike)
  • I want to go out west
  • I want to see more mountains and scenery
  • I want to touch people (in an emotional sense! not a physical one!)
  • Find people
  • Find tribe
  • Sit cross-legged in a circle
  • Free people (not from jail or anything; from their minds)
  • I want to discover
  • Travel
  • Coach the right people for me
  • Coach earthy people, crunchy hippy people like me
  • More coloring
  • Encourage adults to color
  • Workshops
  • Ideal day and collage workshops
  • Spread love
  • Make art with words

Yup, that stuff all still sounds good today! Obviously I want to meet and connect with more like-minded individuals, continue to travel, and to be more creative! I have not been making enough art lately!

Last night before bed I asked for help in letting my essential self come out and be the one to guide me. This morning I woke up with a book idea. That seems like a good start.

On my morning walk, though, I realized that I needed even more. I needed to give myself permission to fail. Miserably. So that’s what I’m working on right now. Yup, I’m working on letting myself fail.

How on earth am I ever going to go out on a limb and be the best life coach, the best writer, the most expressive and loving person I can be if I’m afraid to fail? I’ve already experienced many failures, both personally and professionally, and I’m still alive and happier than ever, so I can certainly handle more of them.

Tomorrow is July 1st. That means the second half of the year is beginning. I love an excuse for a fresh start. I am going to try my darndest to tell myself I have permission to fail each and every time I start freaking out about money and my career. I truly believe my essential self will guide me to the exact experiences that will bring me joy, but not if Prudence keeps standing in the way, telling me what I’m doing is stupid.

No more. I am free to fail. I can suck at this. I can make mistakes. I can use up all of my savings. I will love myself either way, and so will the people in my life who are important.

Oh, and I also put this note up on my bathroom mirror for an added reminder that it’s all going to be okay:

Let your soul speak. Trust the Universe.

Let your soul speak. Trust the Universe.

Will you give yourself permission to fail, too?


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