Tears began to well up behind her eyes and I knew she was beating herself up.
No, not one of my horse friends who share my field with me, but Emily. She’d received a far worse mark than she’d expected for some test or other at school. She couldn’t believe it. She’d practised hard for the test and she was devastated with her result.
She wrote herself off as being a FAILURE!
On top of that, she didn’t dare tell her mum Elizabeth about it, because she was in hospital and had been operated on only the day before. A double whammy for Emily.
Anyway, during the next visiting hours, Emily did tell Elizabeth about it, and do you know what Elizabeth said to Emily?
Firstly, she tried to placate Emily and tell her that although the results were disappointing, she must learn to stop seeing this as a problem with herself. The message being
There is no failure, only feedback!
And there’s the thing. Things hadn’t worked out as Emily had planned, so she went into a downward spiral of self-blame and calling herself a failure. Elizabeth told Emily that whatever happened in this case was neither good nor bad, nor in any way life threatening. It was only information.
When Emily was little and learning to ride me, Elizabeth lead me around with a lead rope. That didn’t mean that Emily had failed as a rider, just that she learned the results of learning to ride in that particular way. She gained confidence and now can ride very well without having to be lead around. It’s all a learning experience. She used the information or feedback each time to improve her riding skills.
So, Emily decided to talk to her teacher about it and gather more information from her as to why she had given Emily such a low mark. Once she’d had this talk with the teacher and gathered information, she then worked on a plan for improving her grades in the next test. Step-by-step. Learning from what she observed and basing her actions upon what she’d learned.
I’m sure you are well aware of Thomas Edison who after trying 9,999 ways to perfect his electric light bulb, famously insisted that “I did not fail. I just discovered another way not to invent the electric light bulb”.
It is important to differentiate the processing of this information: if you have a sense of failure, your behaviour will always be affected adversely by the low self-image it creates. Lower-levels of achievement can then become your subconscious goal!
It’s your attitude that keeps you going. You learn from mistakes and can then turn the outcome, however painful or disappointing it might be at the time, to your advantage.
You start to recognize the behaviour that gets you results and adjust accordingly.
Emily can do it. And so can you.
Enjoy your ride.
(Photo: Mittinger www.babystorkz.com)
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