Different thinking about ‘failure’ lets you change the way you act, freeing you to pursue a whole new path.

We all have our own way of doing things, our own internal rule book if you like and we don’t take too kindly to other people or situations messing that up. Holding on to a set vision in the face of impossibly challenging circumstances can be a sure path to disappointment, anger, resentment and a variety other negative emotions.

There are times in life when no matter how hard we try, and boy do we sometimes try with a capital T, nothing seems to work. We have created a certain destination in our mind and nothing will prevent us from deviating from this pre-defined path.

We persevere dogmatically with our vision for days, months, sometimes even years holding onto something that clearly isn’t working for us. In fact, we’ve invested so much of ourselves into whatever it is, that surely it would be foolish to just give up? As time goes by the urgency grows and panic can set in. I must, I must, I must WIN. I must achieve what I set out to achieve or else I’ve failed…

To a certain extent, we’re all set in our ways, but the key is recognising when we have reached the limit we are prepared to go to. In other words, that we have done all we can in a positive and constructive way and realistically there is little to no chance of changing anything.

I’ve been there myself, more than once. For instance, a long time ago I was in a relationship with a lovely chap I met at college, moved in together and got engaged. Every New Year his mum would ask if this was going to be the year for hat shopping, and every year we’d look at each other sheepishly, shrug our shoulders, and say we were happy the way we were.

On the surface we were happy as ever, but as the years went by we were growing into different people. The very things that brought us together became a bone of contention. There were no major fireworks just sulking, slamming of doors, and one of us walking out declaring a need for space. We both knew it wasn’t working, but neither of us was prepared to let go. We’d patch things up over and over, becoming more determined to hold on to our youthful dreams.

I was compelled to make it work, right up until the day I handed back the ring, threw all my worldly belongings into the back of my mate’s car and drove to a room in a shared house I’d found through the local newspaper listing. My new beginning. But that’s another story…

If you have ever felt anything akin to this and let’s face it, most of have at one time or another, then maybe now is a good time to stop and take charge. You know the saying ‘flogging a dead horse’? Well this is it!

So, you think you have reached this point? Great! By this I mean that you have already taken the first step. ie, you have recognised that change is needed. If, on the other hand, you are still going round and round in circles in your mind, but still hanging on to the same old belief (that you must plod on in the same direction), then try to take a step back and pause for a little while.

Why not change perspective? Make a decision to review your situation. How about asking, what would be a better way of looking at things? By taking a step back and adopting a more flexible outlook you can put yourself in a place where it’s possible to evaluate and determine a better way forward. Sometimes it’s hard to see though all the clutter, but very often the clutter is the vision your thoughts have created and may only have some bearing on the true reality of the situation.

Take small steps, one at a time, and remember that after years of your unconscious mind leading you, it may take time, and a willingness on your part, to want to change your thought process. Ask: what changes can I make right now? Also, what can be changed in the mid and long term? How would I rather feel about the situation? And what is the outcome I most desire?

Remember, there is always a choice. Even if you can’t change a situation you are able to change the way you think about it. When you alter your thinking you change the way you act and react, which frees you to pursue a whole new path. Eventually you will realise that it wasn’t a defeat at all, but an escape into a fresh, new future.

Words: Cerys Aedy, certified personal coach cerysaedy.com