We all want to have happy lives. I am pretty confident that we all want success, however we define it. I often wonder why so many people stop trying for what they want (people including myself!) when it gets difficult.
Failure is a weird notion. To fail it means that you had a goal in mind and an outcome you wanted and things did not turn out as you had planned. In response to failure, some people get more motivated and can see there way through multiple attempts to the desired outcome. Some feel the pain of failure and hold onto it because it is loaded with all sorts of stuff like pain and regret and even shame. To avoid that outcome again, it seems easier sometimes to not try again. So if things don’t work out, we just stop trying. But… why? Why can some people keep going despite rejection and their missed attempts while other people stop reaching?
Yes, I have another parable to share! Actually it comes courtesy of Reverand Takano at my Buddhist temple, and its a scientific experiment I think you will enjoy.
Scientists constructed a big fish tank with a glass divider in it. Fish were put on one side of the divider. Fish food was placed in the other side of the tank. When fish saw their food they swam toward it but were met with the glass barrier. They tried and tried to reach the food to no avail. Soon they stopped trying for the food and just swam around and hung out in their portion of the tank.
The divider was then removed.
Suddenly the food was available to the fish, flooding the water with tons of food for them to eat. Their food was right in front of them, practically in their mouths. They never ate the food.
They had failed to eat it so many times that they believed that it was unattainable, despite the fact that it was now moments away from them without obstacles in the way.
This story helped me to understand a bit more about failure and belief.
By failing multiple times to get what is desired, it seems unattainable. It becomes a fact, if you allow it to be a fact.
At any moment, the opportunity can arrive to eat the food you want, have the job or the love or the solution you desire… and if you have been conditioned to believe, like the fish who hit the glass wall, that it was not possible to have it, it will just float away.
That glass wall of obstacles will move. You can move around it. You might need to persist. You may need to readjust your sails.
But… if you get attached to the idea that you can’t have something, even if its put right in front of your face you will reject it or ignore it or even destroy it in some way because its not to be had in your reality.
Its worth digging deeper into our personal notions of what we “can’t” have that we do want to see that they are just conditioned.
It is my understanding- and practice- that, like starting an exercise program, you sometimes have to “re-exercise” your thoughts, words and actions to believe you can have it again. It may take time, but its well worth confronting.
Nothing goes away by ignoring it!
Here’s to your awesome life of freedom from limitations!
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