Nourish relationships and self-care

Empathy works. It always does.

Conversations about change: Failure applause (6/6)

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TiggerCelebrating failure

The first lesson I learned in my improv classes, was failure applause. You throw your hands in the air, yell “I failed”, bow to your audience, and receive wildly enthusiastic applause.

I love it. It is the celebration of trying, of learning, and of failing along the way.

We cannot expand our behavior, our life, if we are not willing to try something new, and fail.

Whomever thought we can learn something new, and nót fail? We learn to ride a bike, and we fall. We learn to juggle, and we drop our balls. We learn a new language, and we babble incomprehensibly. How can we expect to learn something new and succeed at once? That is not learning, that is reinforcing what we already know. That is thinking we are bad ass, while all we do is staying in our comfort zone.

Learning means venturing out of our comfort zone, out of our habitual behavior, and trying something we have never been or done before.

Trying something new

Maybe you want to practice compassionate communication. You want to hear a hard-to-hear-message with compassion. You want to stop, bring your attention to your breath, pause your reaction for a second, and literally reflect what you hear your friend say. The first two sentences go well. You reflect back, you pause your own reaction, and your friend is satisfied with how you heard him. You are proud of yourself. You get it!  Then something goes wrong. You get triggered, and start defending yourself. Or you start explaining. Or advising. Or counterattacking.

Oops. Thàt’s the time for failure applause. Throw your arms in the air, and yell, with a big smile on your face, “I failed”! And receive applause of your friend. (Of course, it is unlikely that your friend will applaud you. He is too triggered himself. And we can still be a friend to ourselves! We can be our own best audience, applaud as we watch ourselves try something new. And accept our failure.) You gave it your best, and you failed. That doesn’t mean you’re a failure, that means that your skills are not well enough developed to serve you intentions and efforts.

Try again

So you try again, and again, and again. Until the awareness of compassionate communication becomes second nature, first habit. When you finally notice you automatically start reflecting first, and your communication conveys your compassion, you throw your arms in the air, and yell at the top of your lungs, with a big smile on your face, “I succeeded!”. And receive the same appreciative applause for your intentions and efforts to try.

Intention applause

Life is not a game of winning and losing, of getting the right results. Life is a journey of learning. Life is an experiment of letting our intentions and efforts speak for themselves. That’s all that counts. Doing the best we can, and deserve applause for that.

You want help applauding your intentions and efforts? Contact me at 512-589-0482 

Author: Elly van Laar

I am a coach. I specialize in helping professionals schedule time for relationships and self-care. I have a Master's degree in Political Science, Leiden University, the Netherlands. I love meditation, walking, gardening, biking, and hanging out with family and friends.

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