How to Fail Gracefully at Life, Love, and Yoga…and be a better person because of it

There are days I feel like I failed.  Days where I didn’t love enough or give enough, or I didn’t express my gratitude to those around me.  Where I wasn’t really clear with my intentions, I didn’t get it all done, or I didn’t stick up for someone when I should have.

Or maybe it’s just a moment. – a moment where I wasn’t the highest expression of myself.    Where I knew I could have done better once I looked back on it.  I could have chosen love, compassion, and peace, but instead I chose pettiness, anger, or fear.  But…that’s the work.

I often joke with one of my closest friends that if we had it all figured out we would just turn into light and get the heck out of here.  So since I’m standing here today I know I have work to do.  I know I will make mistakes.  But it’s being aware of it, learning from it, and choosing another way the next time a similar situation comes along that is truly the work of our lives.  As long as we are open to the fact that we don’t know it all and have something to learn and give, we are living.

It’s when we are sure we have it all figured out, that we know it all, and have closed ourselves off to other ways of doing and seeing things that we have stopped living.  And living is what we came here to do.  We came here to experience the world and all the earthy, beautiful, sometimes painful, sometimes overwhelming, but always worth it existence of it all.  And isn’t it a wild ride?

I never dreamed in a million years that I would spend my days sweating for hours on end, twisting and bending into various postures and pushing and encouraging others to do the same.  Or, that I would spend the rest of my time during the day clicking away on writing projects.  Or that in my late 30s I would still be singing at the top of my lungs and working on choreography and teaching voice lessons to younger performers.

And as I reflect on this, the first place I really learned how to fail gracefully was in the hot room.  It was years into my practice that I finally learned how to be kind to myself and take a break during class when I truly needed it.  I surrendered to the moment, took a seat, listened to my breath, and, when I was ready, began again.  And that’s all you can do in any situation.  So I thought I’d share some of the ways I deal with failure, because whether it be in life, love, or in your yoga practice, the solutions for me are always the same.

  1. Start the day off on the right foot. Every morning as I blindly stagger down the stairs to my coffee maker I immediately give it over to my higher power, God, the energy of the Universe – whatever you are comfortable with.  For years I have used this prayer from the Course of Miracles to get it all started the right way:  May I go where you would have me go, do what you would have me do, say what you would have me say and to whom.  In this way I feel that I am being guided in the best direction possible for the rest of the day and if I have a failure moment it is in my own best interest to learn from it and try not to repeat it over and over again.
  2. Forgive yourself and others as quickly as you can.  There will be times where you say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, or insolently chug your water bottle during class when you know you shouldn’t.  Others will do the same.  Forgive yourself, forgive others, and move on.  Holding onto injustices, looking to be wronged, or finding ways to beat yourself up is no way to live. 
  3. Know that you can choose to turn it all around in an instant.  So many people declare they are having a bad day when honestly all they are having is a bad moment.  Don’t curse an entire day or an entire class because you feel you failed for a small fraction of time.  You can begin again with the next inhale, the next exhale.   
  4. Do your best always.  If you are honestly doing the best you can in any situation then you cannot fail.  You were doing your best.  What else can you ask of yourself?  Be aware that your best can differ from day to day.  Be kind to yourself always.
  5.  Remember the moments that feel like a failure can be our greatest jumping off point to achieving our best Self.  You came here to learn from your mistakes.  When you become aware of what you want and don’t want from this world you can continually reach for better situations, people who support your goals and dreams, and feelings of achievement and self-worth.

Have you ever had a moment where looking back on it you thought, “FAIL,” and then because of that learned something invaluable about yourself?  How do you deal with failure?

If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy reading:

 A Beautiful Thing is Never Perfect

Be the Bean

The Big Picture


6 thoughts on “How to Fail Gracefully at Life, Love, and Yoga…and be a better person because of it

  1. Can you imagine how dull life would be if we excelled at everything we did? Why would anyone want to start a practice if they were already great at it? BORING – it’s much more exhilarating to see improvement and realize how far you’ve come since you began.

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