[noun; ~ Pronunciation: /feyl-yer/]
- Definition: Anything you do that goes wrong. Right?
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” – Thomas A. Edison
Last week I read this great post about positive psychology. When I did, I didn’t know the impact it would have on me. But when I went on a run last Sunday, that’s when it hit me: I, too, should focus more on the positive sides of life and see through my “failures”.
Normally, I run for fourteen minutes, then walk for two and a half, and finish it off with another fourteen minutes of running. I try to build this up by adding running-minutes and decreasing walking-time every so often.
Running for fourteen minutes twice is doable and I was even planning on increasing it to fifteen minutes. But last Sunday I couldn’t finish my second round. I just couldn’t.
I don’t know what it was, the weather (suddenly very warm and sunny – very unusual for my country), the wind blowing in my face, my lungs feeling like they were to explode, my left sock irritating (and damaging, so it appeared later) my small toe, or just me. I don’t know, but fact is I had to stop running with 3:41 minutes still on the clock. I just couldn’t continue.
It felt like a massive failure on my account. Why? Because I’ve done it before and I believe if I did something once, I should be able to do it again, and again, and again. And again.
Another example: say I increased the weight on my barbell when training my biceps and I manage to make it through the workout without dying. My mind will then accept no less of me the next time. Because I’ve done it once, I feel like I should be able to produce at least the same outcome over and over in the future. If I don’t, the little voices in my head tell me I am a failure, a loser.
They do so with every apparent mistake I make. I know, it’s very tiresome. But I can’t switch my brains off…
It’s difficult to be this harsh on yourself, especially if you do it subconsciously. And that’s when I remembered reading about positive psychology: let’s focus less on the mistakes we make, and more on the good things we do! Who is it that we have to please? No one other than ourselves!
It’s good to stay motivated and strive to do our best, but it’s not okay to tell ourselves we failed if something doesn’t work out the way we hoped it would. And even if we did make a mistake: so what! A mistake is only ever a mistake if we don’t learn from it!
Another point of focus is choosing to reward ourselves when we accomplish something over self-punishment when we fail. How come my mind never tells me I did something right, but only nags at me when I do something wrong? I think I need to have a serious chat with my brains…
My life is revolved around the negative: ignore the positive, focus on mistakes. That has to change!
So I started by telling myself it was okay to take an extra break. And after three minutes of catching my breath, I ran the final four minutes home.