Do you ever read a quote and have it change your life? I’m a little bit in love with Anaïs Nin anyway but I read this quote of hers and it finally gave me the courage to do what I’d been afraid of.
“You have a right to experiment with your life. You will make mistakes. And they are right too.” – Anaïs Nin
At the time I had a great job with great people but I knew that I wanted to be able to look after my family on more of a full-time basis. I also had a passion for mindfulness that I wanted to explore. I spent many months ruminating on the decision about whether to leave (I’ll tackle rumination in a different post) and there were two key thoughts that were holding me back.
- It’s highly unlikely I’d be able to return to research in such a fantastic position. What if I regret it and want to return?
- What if I fail? Everyone would see me fail and that would be embarrassing.
As I read that quote however, I realised that making mistakes IS inevitable. I could take all the precautions I wanted but at some point I would make a mistake anyway. We often see our lives (particularly our professional lives) as being a linear upward trajectory. We don’t expect to pause, to reset, to circle back around and come up again on a different path. But would it be so bad if we did? It suddenly felt quite liberating to acknowledge that I’d had an amazing time in research for 12 years but that right now, I could allow myself to take on a new challenge. And if I decided to return to research in the future, maybe I would find another amazing role to fill. There are no definites, only possibilities.
The other thought I acknowledged was that failing and making mistakes ARE OK. This is one I struggle with a lot and learning self compassion through my own meditation practice has been very healing. Yes it feels bad to fail, but it can also be a great teacher if we let go of the accompanying self-criticism and negative thinking that we often heap upon ourselves when we do so. We can be kind to ourselves instead. Acknowledge the hurt, explore what the experience has to teach us and then let it go. We can even be grateful to our failures for teaching us.
So as I prepare to launch my new classes this week, I feel that familiar knot of trepidation in my stomach. My anxious mind telling me that failure is a possibility. That it would be safer not to try. To remain unseen and untested.
And then I remember those words “You will make mistakes. And they are right too”. I remember that I have love to give. That I am passionate about what I do. That I want to share that feeling of loving life again that I had when I learned mindfulness for the first time after my first baby. That I can do this.
The best mentors often allow us to step outside our thoughts and see them from a different perspective. Thank you Anaïs.