How falling can help you fly!
I was always one of those kids who was pretty good at everything: schoolwork; sports; music; drama.
One of those annoying kids who didn’t seem to fail.
But looking back, I realise that it has less to do with me being a child genius and more to do with me gravitating towards the activities that I found easy.
When I met my husband at the tender age of 16, I suddenly realised that I wasn’t good at everything!
He was a climber, skier, mountain biker and outdoor adrenaline junkie!
While I had always loved nature, I was never involved in those kinds of activities and was suddenly thrown way outside my comfort zone!
I can’t count the times I was in actual tears because I felt out of my depth on a climb or ski slope.
To be honest, I would rather have ended the day early and go home without trying.
Looking back, there was never any real danger – well, not often!
It’s clear to me now that my reactions were more to do with my feelings of not being good enough.
And my fear of falling – both literally and metaphorically!
It has taken me a LONG time to realise that falling is one of the most important things we can do in life. And here’s why…
I am just average – and so are you!
How many of us, if we’re honest with ourselves, would rather quit something challenging than fail in the process? Or maybe not even start at all!
In his book, ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life’, Mark Manson describes our culture’s standard of success as being “extraordinary”.
“Being “average” has become the new standard of failure. The worst thing you can be is in the middle of the pack, the middle of the bell curve.”
Reading this a few years ago, I felt like a humongous weight had been lifted from my shoulders! It seems ridiculous to me now – even more so because it was a weight that I had put there all by myself!
Almost overnight, I stopped comparing my achievements to others and felt comfortable with my new mindset that it was OK to be “average”.
A strikingly obvious example of this was when I was learning to surf. Instead of feeling frustrated at my slow progress and indulging my feelings of self-pity, I became carefree and started to genuinely enjoy the experience – falls and all! I didn’t get any better at surfing, but my enjoyment levels soared despite (or perhaps, because of) my “average” ability level!
So, remember, you are just average.
And that’s OK!
Every fall is a lesson to be learnt!
Can you imagine if toddlers learning to walk gave up every time they fell over?
They don’t think admonish themselves for being ‘useless’ or a ‘failure’. They just get up and try again learning from their bodies and their environment until they can eventually walk unassisted.
And, thank goodness they do! Otherwise, we would all still be crawling!
In every situation, when we fall, we can learn something.
Not least, we discover what it was that caused the fall – our thoughts, our emotions, our body.
This is the same whether we are talking about a literal fall on your backside or a metaphorical fall such as failing an exam. When we take a step back and analyse the situation, we can see how we might prevent the same thing from happening in the future.
What happens after the fall is equally important.
By looking at our response to a perceived ‘failure’, we can learn about our attitude and develop resilience.
Often our immediate response differs to the way we look back on an event after some time has passed. We might initially react with strong emotions which diminish with time. It’s true what they say – time heals! It also gives us perspective.
By falling more frequently we are able to reduce the amount of time it takes us to find perspective.
If we fall often enough, the immediate feelings of ‘failure’ are so brief that we hardly notice them at all before we’re back up there giving it another shot!
Increasing our resilience is as easy as stepping outside of our comfort zones and falling often!
Enjoy the fall!
When looking for inspirational quotes about ‘falling’ and ‘failure’, there’s a common theme. They mostly talk about how ‘failure’ is an important step in reaching the end goal of ‘success’.
Now, I have to admit, I have a bit of a problem with this!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for goal setting and ambition.
But if we only ever view our falls as a step towards something better, aren’t we preventing ourselves from enjoying the present moment?
I mean, who’s to say we can’t find pleasure in the very act of falling?
I know it sounds counter-intuitive but if we are able to approach every ‘failure’ with an attitude of playfulness, it’s possible to enjoy every moment for what it is.
Maybe ‘enjoy’ is too strong a word. But we can certainly learn to be fully present in the sensation of falling without thinking of any possible future consequences.
This act of being present is actually one of the fundamental principles of the mindfulness technique which – ironically – often leads to a more productive and fruitful life.
Go forth and fall!
Being OK with falling (literally or metaphorically) is a skill we need to nurture.
I encourage you to embrace every opportunity that may lead to a fall.
Take chances and fall for the sake of falling without even thinking of the end ‘goal’.
Notice how freeing it feels to simply enjoy the moment without striving for a destination.
After all, as author, Emilie Autumn, put it,
“Falling’s just another way to fly.”
I would love to hear about your falls in the comments below!
PS Get in touch if you have a great idea for a blog post!