Life Traps | Pt. 4: Failure

Posted by Maria

As we pick up speed in the series and move on from the Life Traps of Emotional inhibition and Subjugation, I am getting more and more into places that are very uncomfortable for me. The topics within this post, failure, and the next one that will be about abandonment, will be a rough journey.  

A brief summary based on what the book, Tunne Lukkosi by Kimmo Takanen, tells us of the Life Trap of Failure:

I believe I will fail, I’m missing the skills to succeed. I avoid challenges because I’m afraid I will fail. What’s the point in trying anyway, I know I’ll mess it up. 

I compare myself to everyone and see that I am unskilled, a failure. Even when I am complimented I am not feeling joy for my achievements, after all, someone would’ve done it better.  

I believe that I am lacking something that is needed for success. I think I am not social enough, not smart enough, or skilled enough. Rather than tackling a challenging problem, I will play safely, even if it hinders my own progress.

I may try to compensate for the feeling of failure by being demanding. I need to be perfect! I often place absurd goals ahead of me and when I can’t reach them, I feel like a failure once more.

When I succeed, I may still think that I failed. The beastly shadow of it keeps lurking behind me, causing anxieties and validating my feelings every time I perceive that I have not performed up to my skewed standards.

Ah, Failure, my old friend.

This pairs so nicely with the Hypercriticalness that we are going to go into later on in the series – together these two make my life hell sometimes.

I typically hate challenges, anything that might demand more from me than what I am comfortable with. Sometimes it even creeps out into things I know I’m decent at, such as my freelance translations. 

A few months ago I put up my Fiverr profile to see if people would be interested in my translation abilities. I was scared to the bone and needed my husband’s gentle pressuring to make me go through with it. I kept feeling like I can’t do it, I’ll mess it up, I’ll get bad reviews since I know I’m not good enough to do it anyway, and oh boy will it crush me.

Imagine my surprise when the first Client came, was happy with my service, and even left me an amazing review!

It’s the same with new things within the household. 

Being a housewife, I am naturally looking into ways into living more sparingly, and that includes making food at home most of the time. Now I’m by no means a bad cook, but when my husband asked me to make cookies for his morning coffees, I freaked out. I waited for months before I was brave enough to actually try to bake anything since I figured I will not succeed and will end up wasting precious materials and money. 

Nowadays I make our cookies on a weekly basis, no more storebought loveless crackers! 

I keep feeling that I need to be better, that someone else should do the job I’m doing because someone else would certainly be better at it. This thought process enables one of my biggest triggers. 

Say my husband offers his kind help to me. His expertise in technological things for example. I know pretty much nothing about the topic, yet, I feel like I should. Introduce hypercritical thinking. This leads to the failure-thinking that tells me: “Well of course you are a failure, what did you even think, it’s not like you had the skills to do this anyway, just back off and let someone better do it.” 

Guess what happens when these two take over my brain?

My husband gets it. 

I become gnarly and spiteful, in accordance with the abundance of emotional locks and maladaptive patterns I’ve accumulated. What fun!

This sometimes bursts out in a very toxic situation where my brain has convinced me that I’m a failure as a wife, that I should leave, and someone better and prettier should take my place, because, you know, I am clearly not going to be able to do it.

Because of my feeling of being a constant failure, I do indeed often try to compensate for it by becoming a bit of a perfectionist. 

The bread will be buttered neatly and evenly, the car’s windshield will be scraped from ice until it shines, and the pita-bread I shape will be bloody perfectly round if it kills me!

I’ve put up many milestones in my way and maybe reached a handful. I tend to take too big bites and get lost in the process and the ocean of things I need to do. Though these days I’ve started to try and manage myself a bit better, take one step at a time, that’s plenty of progress at any given time.

The destructive thinking of “I was a failure, I am a failure, and I will never be anything but a failure” keeps haunting me all day every day. It’s tiring. I hope you, my reader, don’t know how tiring it truly is because I wouldn’t wish this shadow on anyone. 

The constant nagging in my mind, even when I’ve done good, takes away from the joy of living. It makes worse the moments that I could’ve used to propel myself forward, to learn from whatever happened, and to use it in order to evolve. 

For years I was stagnant, just living very deep in my comfort zone. No surprises, no new things. I even stopped writing, thinking that I wasn’t fit to write, that someone else was better to portray my thoughts and worlds and the things I was proud of creating. 

I am starting to understand that failure is just another opportunity: an opportunity to learn. And that we are all just human, everyone makes mistakes, and that is completely fine!

At the end of the chapter about failure, the book goes into letting us know that when this Life Trap resolves, we won’t feel like a failure anymore. Even if we would make some mistakes, we would see more success than failure within them. We will focus more on developing our own abilities and compare ourselves less to others. 

It would be amazing to be able to come to terms with my own limitations and to stop demanding so much from myself. That gets so stressful! 

And let’s be real here for a moment.

A life without a challenge or the possibility of mistakes or failure? That would be terribly boring, and that’s no way to grow.

How about you? Can you give yourself credit for the amazing person you are? Or does the fear of failure have its hold on you as well?

Let me know in the comments below!

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