Pema Chodron, the Buddhist teacher and author of Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better has advice on how to cope when you can’t stop thinking something is wrong with you. If this describes you, I have a club you might want to join. Margaritas served at all club meetings.

what divorce feels like

what divorce feels like

There is a lot of emphasis on succeeding. And whether we buy the hype or not, we all want to succeed, especially if you consider success to mean, “it works out the way I want it to.” You know it feels good in the gut and in the heart because it worked out. So, failing, by that definition, is that it didn’t work out the way you wanted it to. And failing is what we don’t usually get a lot of preparation for.

So, how to fail?

One of the things I want to say about failure is that it feels very raw. We usually think of it as something that happens to us from the outside. We can’t get in a good relationship or we are in a relationship that ends painfully or we can’t get a job. Or we are fired from the job we have.

There are usually two ways that we deal with that. We either blame it on somebody else or some other thing—the organization, our boss, our partner, whatever. We move away from the rawness, from holding the rawness of vulnerability in our heart, by blaming it on the other.

The second way we deal with failure is to feel really bad about ourselves and label ourselves “a failure.” We have this feeling that there is something fundamentally wrong with us. So someone gave me a quote, something from James Joyce’s Ulysses, where Joyce wrote about how failure can lead to discovery. And he actually didn’t use the word “failure”; he used the word “mistake,” as in making a mistake. He said that mistakes can be “the portals of discovery.”

In other words, mistakes are the portal to creativity, to learning something new, to having a fresh outlook on things.

But it’s a little hard to tell what’s a failure and what’s just something that is shifting your life in a whole new direction. And I will use me as an example. The worst time in my life was when I felt like the greatest failure, and this had to do with a second failed marriage.

It took me a good three years to actually make the transition from just wanting to go back to the solid ground that I had known before to having the willingness to actually go forward into a whole brand-new life, a really good life that has a lot of happiness and well-being.

The main point here is this: Can you allow yourself to feel what you feel when things don’t go the way you want them to? When things don’t go the way you hoped, and wished and longed for them to go?

Cool Mona Note: The 2nd part tomorrow. In the meantime, listen to this: