Did you ever do the experiment in childhood where you take a baby food jar and fill it about half way with heavy whipping cream and then shake it forever? Eventually you get homemade butter!
Yesterday I got the bright idea to try making some for fun. Except I tried making a whole quart and didn’t count on no one wanting to help me.
Let’s just say the mason jar is still in the fridge in semi-whipped cream form and I am SO. SORE. I tried!! Then I tried some more until my muscles were burning! I even tried more today! It’s extra frustrating because we did this before as a family and it worked beautifully! Granted, hubs may have done most of the heavy shaking. I may just have to give up on this batch. So far, nothing like butter is emerging and I am plain outta the muscle juice required to make it happen.
This ‘failure’ got me thinking.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” We all know that little childhood saying. It got me wondering: Why is it so hard to try again? In so many situations, why is it so hard for me to want to try at all?
I find this quote fascinating: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.” -W.C. Fields
I wish I could either try harder/better? or just quit. I seem to get stuck in trying limbo. When I practice an instrument, I noticed that whenever the part I was trying didn’t sound pretty good on the first try, I got so discouraged that I’d either just stop, ‘try again’ lazy style (so it didn’t really count if it sucked, I wasn’t really trying) or do something else and not ever want to practice again. Except then I felt torn because I want to be a better player! Just quitting would certainly help me escape the feelings that come up when I try but fail to immediately meet my own high standards!
But for serious, why is making a good effort in the face of ‘failure’ so difficult? Why is it so hard for me? I have noticed almost everything comes back to feelings. Of course no one wants to feel like a failure. Failure or even lesser mistakes can bring up unbearable emotions. These feelings can literally (and yes, I mean literally) be fatal. Even when you don’t literally die, they can lead to other kinds of death: It’s possible to kill ourselves off in every way except actually ending the life of the physical body by trying to stop thinking, to stop feeling, to stop being.
In order to keep trying, you have to have a certain kind of courage. To press on in the face of that wall of emotion, to bear the feelings and yet continue anyway, can be quite difficult if we haven’t had lots of practice.
Here are some things I am trying to keep in mind to help me navigate negative feelings. Instead of allowing difficult emotions to stop us from doing the things we want to do:
- Allow your emotions and name them. Very difficult! Since childhood I have always felt like feelings kind of weren’t allowed. Best shut down at the first opportunity. Now I try to identify what I’m feeling (and why if I know) and put a label on it. Speaking with a professional can be very helpful if this is an area where you get stuck. Admitting “I’m sad” can be strangely liberating in a way- especially if it’s for a ‘good reason!’ I’m also learning to accept that all emotions are legitimate- informative even!
- See negative feelings as a little ‘notice’- a ping that points out an area for potential growth. Negative emotions can pull your awareness to something that needs to change. Look closer!
- Employ patience towards yourself. We can be endlessly(?) patient with little kids but tolerance when directed inward can be hair trigger short. Why not use that same gentle inner stance that helps you cut them slack on yourself too?
- Remember that “mistakes are proof that you’re trying.” Trying at all is a big improvement for me. Especially when I’m more inclined to just stop, I have to remember to give myself some credit for making the effort!
- Just try something and see how it goes. Choose the smallest step you can think of or make a grand effort if that’s more your style. Practice bearing the feelings that come up. Process them with someone you can trust. Just like working out our muscles, we will get stronger with time and effort!
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
One more post down. Hope I’m not making any horrible mistakes so far! This whole blog is a giant experiment for me so thank you for reading and supporting me as I fumble along!
What about you? Do you find it difficult to try,try again? What helps you keep trying after a failure?