He began, "Irwin, fear of failure keeps many a frog from moving forward in life. And that fear stems from resistance to change. And by know, you know that change is really the constant in life that we have. A frog who never tries will never know." My first thought was that failure doesn't feel very good. No one actually looks forward to failing but I could kind of see where he was going with this. Dharma reminded me of a wonderful quotation by the American humorist and writer, Mark Twain that goes, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do, then by the ones you did do." I don't know about you, but I know that I sure don't want to find myself, twenty years down the road, feeling nothing but regrets for all of my "should haves."
Dharma went on to explain that it's sometime easier to get over fear of failure if we first look at the word "try." Try simply means to attempt something. It doesn't mean being successful at it. It's all about putting forth the time and energy necessary to give it (whatever "it" is) our 100% effort. If you're only giving "it" a half-baked attempt, how can you truly judge whether or not you're successful? Nope. If you're going to try something, give it you your very best shot. No one is going to be successful at everything.
The part of our lesson focused on staying open to the possibilities. As my wise teacher points out to me all the time, we never really know how anything will really turn out. Some of our best experiences in life are the results of what Dharma calls "happy accidents"...those thing we try and think we've failed at, but actually something even better shows up. It's kind of like the universe is rewarding us for our efforts.
Then we have the field of all possibilities. History and science, both, tell us to be open to all possibilities rather than just jumping to premature conclusions. There are many who believe that individuals (and frogs, too) must keep an open mind about what may happen when we try something new. This means eschewing the idea of "nomalcy" which, really, is pretty subjective and can be very limiting. Just because something is good for one, doesn't mean it'll be good (or work) for everyone. Humans are not a one-size-fits-all kind of species. And neither are we frogs. This fact can be pretty empowering and open us all up to a world of new possibilities.
And, let's face it, fear is always the biggest hindrance to trying something new. Far too often, catastrophic predictions of what could or might happen, simply don't pan out. Dharma Frog stresses this point me over and over. And I know he's right. I'm a great one for fearing the absolute worst possible scenario in any given situation and, more likely than not, the real outcome isn't so bad. Sometimes, it's even (dare i say it?) pleasurable! My wise teacher says that it's important for all of us to cultivate a positive cognitive basis whereby we don't always jump to your old default mode of thinking the worst. All of our "what if's" in life can be tuned from "What if this terrible thing happens?" to "What if this wonderful thing might happen?" It is possible that something wonderful could happen. It often does.
Lastly, Dharma pointed out why it is so important that we learn to let go of our concept of failure. Failure doesn't have to be negative. Failure can be seen as a step on the path to true success. Dharma believes that failure has gotten a bad rap over the years. He's right, it has. Learning from our mistakes and still getting back up and moving forward is the true hallmark of success. Sometimes we have to experience failure 10, 20, 50...even 99 times before we find our success. But if we believe in what we're doing, we can persevere through the worst of times.
"Doing nothing is easy, Irwin, but it won't get you very far in life. Taking action, and by that I mean trying, can be very empowering. Ignoring your old mindset and being open to exploring new options and possibilities in life that, my boy, is how we grow."
And leaving me with that thought to ponder, Dharma hopped off for his next appointment.
I'm very lucky to have the Dharma Frog in my life. He keeps me grounded and helps me understand how life can, and should work. He's a mentor, friend, and spiritual teacher.
I hope that you, dear readers, benefit, too, from his weekly pearls of froggy wisdom.