Why I Need to Learn How to Fail.

Why I Need to Learn How to Fail

I need to learn how to fail and how to have confidence in that failure.

People make mistakes. I understand that. What I can’t seem to get through my thick skull is that I am allowed to make mistakes too. I treat my failures or mistakes like the movie Independence Day and the aliens are coming. Where is Will Smith?

But in all seriousness, when a friend makes a mistake I try to help or make them feel better. Instead, when it comes to myself, I have bad dreams over what I could potentially do wrong personally and in business. When I do make a blunder, one of the worst feelings come over–this sick to my stomach shame. I’ve no tolerance for my potential mistakes or the ones I actually make. Grace is hard to find when I consider myself.

It comes in waves for me. For months, I seem to be giving up my perfectionism to God (I call myself a recovering perfectionist) and then it rears its ugly head again. I am trying to figure out the connection between those times when I am able to give it all to God and those times I hold myself to an extremely high standard.


Maybe it is because I’ve had the rug pulled out from under me in a big way several times in my life? Recently, I was talking to my dear old mum about those times. I just said, “I feel like people have a certain emotional capacity, like a gas tank, and so much went down in such a short amount of time, at a time in my life when I was most vulnerable that it just created this perfect storm and…like, I kind of hope God recognizes how full it is.” I know that’s not how it works; it’s just how it feels sometimes.

Let’s talk about love languages (I am very much rolling my eyes at myself right now). Last time I took it mine was quality time. But affirmation in new relationships, specifically rocky relationships, or when I am trying or beginning something new, I need a pat on the back–which makes me feel so dumb. Want to hear something that makes me feel even more ridiculous? On one level, I just want to make sure I am doing things to someone’s satisfaction and if I am not, I want to know how I can do it to their satisfaction (I’ve been told by professors and managers that I am very good at taking constructive criticism and it is true that I love it because I always want to be better, better, better) but then when it isn’t about the things I do or make or work related, I just want to know that I am liked (so that’s the most ridiculous part).

All of this adds more stress to my body and my chronic illness is triggered by stress. So I’ll be getting to the bottom of why my perfectionist tendencies have been higher than normal this summer.

Are you a perfectionist–recovering or otherwise? What helps you?

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20 thoughts on “Why I Need to Learn How to Fail.

  1. Lindsay

    I relate so much to this. I’d say I’m a recovering perfectionist but I’m not trying too hard to overcome. I’m a people-pleaser and I also thrive off words of affirmation. Reading Daring Greatly helped me, but I’d like to read it again. I love how she says perfectionism is a form of shame- so true.

  2. Jessa

    I am struggling with no being perfect even though I know that I will never be. When stuff at work goes wrong I replay it over and over instead of learning from it and moving on. I tell myself we all need to make mistakes to grown and learn. Im slowing practicing giving it to God more.

  3. Anne

    I think you nailed sit on the head (at least with me): W just want to know that we are doing a good job and if not, how we can do better. I envy those who can easily brush it off and say “Oh well, I did my best!” I always dig deeper and try to figure out why or how come I had a certain outcome. I think we all need to give ourselves a little more grace. I am definitely not a perfectionist but I am 100% a people pleaser and that’s not good either to some extent. All of this to say, I feel you!

    1. Nina Post author

      I think if there was a venn diagram of people pleaser and perfectionist there would be a huge overlap!!!

  4. Sarah

    I had a counselor make me super uncomfortable with my perfectionism once. I was describing a failure of mine and how disastrous it was and she asked me, point blank, “If your best friend did this, what would you say to her?” Whoa. It was life changing. We talked through it and I was so much more supportive when my friend was in that position than I was with myself! Thanks for sharing. I know this sort of thing isn’t always easy to put out there. ♥

    1. Nina Post author

      That’s such a good question! It isn’t the easiest but it also keeps me accountable and I want to be authentic and accountable 🙂

  5. Ashley

    Oh my gosh – yes to all of this. I don’t even make it as a recovering perfectionist for “months”, I’m lucky to get a few days in before I catch myself in it again. But it’s something I’m working on continuously. Thanks for sharing these beautiful words.

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