Failure or Lesson? In your Money House…

written by Bari Tessler May 29, 2013

“The only difference between a failure and a lesson, is how much you were paying attention.”

When I recently read this on Joshua Onysko’s Facebook wall, I felt a big YES! My mind was flooded by all the ways this relates to our money relationship and the path to money healing.

I’m curious . . . Looking back on your money story so far, do you interpret challenging spots as money failures, or money lessons?

More often than not, I find that many people fall on side of failure, especially when it comes to money. We shame ourselves for all of the ways we failed around money, and we hold ourselves in unforgiveness, often very harshly.

Can we zoom out a bit here? There is a better way.

We do not fail our way into change, shame our way into change, or unconsciously react our way into change. We can only love ourselves into change. We learn our way into change.

In your relationship with money, and anything else, there are choices in all of the enormous and teeny moments of your life. Shame or love? Learn from or repeat? Forgive or resent?

It’s very useful to notice what choices you’re making – usually unconsciously – and assess whether it’s serving you.

Here are few examples of money situations that can be easily interpreted as Money Failures OR Money Lessons:

  • The 3K you spent on credit cards during your Italian vacation 5 years ago. (And debt in general).
  • When you spent an inheritance and regretted the way it was done.
  • The time you didn’t read the fine print and spent a lot of unnecessary money.
  • You made a budget (or “Map of Intention” as I prefer to call it), but overspent this month.
  • You finally took a look at your numbers and found a few recurring expenses that you didn’t want or need, which have been automatically deducted from your account for months.
  • You used your savings for unexpected veterinary expenses for your dog.
  • You created a big ‘ole Money Mess with the IRS . . . or with an ex-honey.
  • You stayed quiet about your feelings in a money situation, and it left you feeling off and out of integrity.
  • You saved and saved . . . and wish you had indulged once or twice on life’s pleasures.

Have you lived through any of these scenarios, or similar ones?

Where are they filed in your heart and mind: Failure or Lesson?

How to shift from Failure to Lesson (and shame to love, and resentment to forgiveness . . .)

    1. Identify how it’s working now. Is holding yourself in unforgiveness and failure helping the situation? Does it help you feel inspired to take on your relationship with money with more consciousness, awareness, and love? Or does it encourage you to rebel, check out, and put your head in the sand.
    2.  Deep breath. Body check in. Remember that you have a choice.
    3. Explore. What did this so-called “failure” make possible? What did you learn about yourself, or others in the process? What would you do differently next time? What might you need to put in place — support, systems, information — to make those changes possible if you found yourself in a similar situation again?
    4. Feel into it. What was it like to reflect on this experience as a lesson? To let go of resentment, shame, and anger? Do you feel lighter, happier, energized? Do you feel sad? How does this perspective change the way you think about moving forward?

While we’re at it, here are a few more failure quotes I love:

I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy. ~ Tony Robbins

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit. ~ Napoleon Hill

Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t waste energy trying to cover up failure. Learn from your failures and go on to the next challenge. It’s OK to fail. If you’re not failing, you’re not growing. ~ H. Stanley Judd

When failure is not an option, innovation and creativity are not options. In a highly critical scarcity-based world, everyone’s afraid to fail. As long as we’re afraid to fail, we’ll never come up with the big, bold ideas we need to solve these problems. ~ Brene Brown

We all really do make mistakes. We make money mistakes.

The key to a thriving money relationship is being willing to truly learn from all of these moments, acknowledging the money shame, forgiving yourself and moving forward.

Sometimes, in this process, we do need to name the so-called “failure” part. “Ok, I failed.” That’s okay. However, please don’t stay there. Move steadfastly into the lesson part of this journey.

Let’s love ourselves into change. Because it feels better and because it works.
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