This morning a facebook friend, frustrated by his results from an obviously important endeavor, wondered how many times he should keep trying before he writes off the effort as a failure. The overwhelming response from his fb family was that whatever he was trying to do wasn’t working because it wasn’t supposed to: We concluded that he must be attempting to accomplish something that was not in his best interest or for his highest good.
If he was exerting his best effort, conducting himself with integrity and good intention, and he wasn’t achieving the desired outcome, perhaps that route he’d chosen was not the best for him, and he was being guided in a different, more beneficial direction. He’d also chosen to label his outcome as failure–and he could choose to perceive it differently.
Some of us learn the hard way, like me: I’m a do-it-yourselfer, been one for years. I have several tool boxes and a couple of drills—cordless and corded. About the only thing I won’t mess with is plumbing. I always get this vision of a geyser pummeling me into a wall if a make a mistake. Not cute, and mopping is not one of my favorite DIY tasks.
Years ago, I rarely read the step-by-step assembly or installation instructions before starting projects. If it looked like a no-brainer, I dug right in. Often I made a mess that took twice as long to undo or clean up.
Too often, we handle our lives like DIY projects. We just charge ahead, making our plans—sometimes a Plan A and Plan B—without asking for divine direction. As a result, we end up with results that we didn’t expect from either plan. We get in our way. We block the good that’s coming our way; we make life more difficult and disappointing.
Sometimes we suck it up and correct our error. Other times, we lack the skill, experience or the guts to admit that we blew it, so instead of salvaging what we can, we throw it all away as if it never happened. Sometimes, as was the case with my dear facebook friend, we keep doing the same thing—just from different angles or with different people. You don’t have to be Einstein to figure out that doing the same thing and expecting different results is, well, simply insane.
Thinking can prevent that. It’s prudent to think before we act, and prudent to think before we react. If we show up and exhibit our best effort and our highest-selves, and things don’t turn out the way we desired, it doesn’t mean we failed. It only means that the outcome we expected or desired wasn’t the best one for us—at least not at that moment.
The concept of failure exists exclusively in the physical world. It is merely a figment of our imaginations, created in our physical brains. Failure is a misperception, a misinterpretation of the truth about you and that situation. Thomas Edison understood it well: “I have not failed,” he said. “I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
It’s natural that an inventor without an instruction manual, who’s experimenting with outcomes, would draw that conclusion. Why don’t we? After all, we’re winging it, too: trying this, trying that without seeking any guidance. Of course we don’t have to figure it out ourselves. We’ve chosen to lean on the understanding of our physical brains. Consequently, we are more likely to find 10,000 ways that won’t work than ten ways that will.
We can choose differently and respond differently to our outcomes by looking at, working through and responding to situations from the perspective of our unlimited eternal (soul) level rather than our limited physical (ego) level. You can determine how well you are doing that now by answering five simple questions:
- Who am I?
a. Do I have a soul?
b. Am I a soul?
2. Who’s leading me?
a. Do I believe: If it is to be, it’s up to me?
b. Do I wait on God for guidance?
3. When unpleasant things occur that I didn’t expect…
a. Am I disappointed?
b. Do I ask how the situation serves me, what growth opportunities does it present?
4. How do I attract things and people into my life experience?
a. Do I pray for specific things, visualize everything in great detail, and focus on accomplishing my goal?
b. Do I gratefully accept all outcomes, knowing that they serve me in some way?
5. What I most desire right now is __________________________________.
Did you answer “a” to questions 1-4? That means that you perceive yourself, make decisions, respond to situations and manifest things into your life from a limited physical perspective and you’re receiving the corresponding results. If you answered “b” to questions 1-4, you perceive yourself as an eternal soul temporarily experiencing life in a temporary world, and you are less likely to rely on your brain and more likely to rely on the Divine to help you out of a jam. If your answer to number five was something tangible, that reflects an ego-level desire. If it was intangible, it reflects a soul-level desire.
If your answers included “a” and “b,” chances are, you’re probably in a growth stage. And your outcomes appear to be inconsistent. You have an awareness of yourself as more than a body, but because you’ve perceived yourself as only a body for so long, you often default to the limitations of physical actions, responses and outcomes. That’s only natural.
We have to discard the old information about who we are and replace it with new information. Until then, we’re going to have a “new wine in old skins” experience. There will be trial, and expect error. Just be patient with yourself–and love yourself unconditionally, no matter what mess your body has created. Forgive yourself for getting into the jam. Most important, resist the urge to declare defeat, no matter what your outcome looks like.
In reality, your soul has never experienced failure–only your ego.