The Failure that Wasn't: Reframing Creative Flops

The website launch that no one sees.

The recital for 4 people.

The offering that no one purchased.

The voice cracks, finger slips, falls, rejection letters, hurtful critiques.

The road not taken, the opportunity not pursued.

They can all feel like creative failures.

And to an inner critic that is alive and well, they also feel like personal failures.  

They can leave you feeling less than, not good enough, even abandoned.

But what if they are really a gift in disguise?

 

It was the night before launching a program.  I'd spent hours on the webpage, finessing the words till they felt just right.  I'd invoked all the energetic support I could think of, calling in my clients, creating charts.  I'd checked and double checked that my body, my spirit were in alignment with this offering.  I felt confident this would be successful and envisioned my ideal outcomes while also trying to acknowledge that I wasn't ultimately in control.

The next day, I started spreading the word. And... nothing.

Crickets.

And the next day. And the next.

Any previous interest had shut the door and gone home.

 

Thoughts and feeling flared.  Ego began tirades of self-shaming and judgement. The scared little girl within cried out for hugs and answers.  

The first response was to personalize the lack of response, to make it all about me and probe to find out what I did wrong, what IS wrong - with me and my creative output.

 

Until finally a kind friend talked my ego off the ledge, held my hand, and reminded me "This must be happening for a bigger reason.  Breathe. Surrender. Allow clarity to come."

Simple words but their effect was significant.

 

By the next morning, I had my answer, clear as crystal.

Stop Hiding.

Release the fear of rejection and abandonment harbored since childhood.

The people whose disapproval you sense and fear are not YOUR people.

 

reframing creative failure

And suddenly, the failure was a gift. 

As soon as the words formed, a deep relaxation flooded my body, I could breathe freely again, and the clenching I hadn't even realized was in my chest as I pushed myself to spread the word released.  This is what truth feels like.

And with that truth came clarity, peace, and courage for the next creative idea.

Had I not experienced this "failure", I would not have paused to listen for the message. Had I not been brought to my proverbial knees in frustration and even despair, I would not have turned to my friend for the reminder or connected as deeply within to receive the blessing of Truth.

 

 

One of the most vulnerable parts of creating is the possible rejection we face at every turn.  Will our work be received in the spirit in which it's intended? Will we be successful?  Will we be seen? Heard? Valued? Will we be good enough?  And any rejection is so easy to interpret as failure.

In a world obsessed with appearance and following the rules, we are taught to look outside of ourselves for approval and validation of who we are and what we're capable of.  So that when we try things, put ourselves out there, if we don't receive the praise, or the validation is not forthcoming, or criticism abounds, we can lose faith.

And when we're spiritually inclined and seek to co-create with the Divine, a failure can feel like a double punch.

The key thing to remember, though, is that when we co-create and ask for the realization of our dreams in accordance with our highest good, sometimes our highest good is to fall.  Sometimes, the lesson to be learned, the gift to be received, can only be obtained through NOT having what we thought we wanted.

 

 

For myself, and for many of my clients, learning to release these fears and meanings around failure and rejection and remembering to seek the gift is a life's work.  

The beauty of needing to work on it so much, though, is that many tools and experiences are gained! I learn the hard way, so that you may not have to!!

 

So here are some tools to help you alchemize your next creative flop into gold:

  • Notice: What thoughts am I having? What feelings am I experiencing? What physical sensations is my body having?
  • Ask: What am I making this failure mean? Is that absolutely true?
  • Breathe. Meditate. Sleep. Exercise. Shake. Let yourself move through the fight/flight/freeze adrenaline response and gain space.
  • Pray, listen, request guidance from whatever higher power you feel connected to and journal on what arises.  I particularly like to ask for guidance prior to going to sleep and then journal immediately upon waking.

 

And if you feel yourself befuddled or mired in angst and anxiety from a particular flop, or a lifetime of them, whose lessons are just out of reach, let's connect!  Send me an email or schedule a free discovery call.

 

Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late.
— Byron Katie