How to Not (Completely) Feel Like a Fool by Sarah Taylor

It’s April, the month of the fool!

We’ve all tripped in front of people we’ve wanted to impress. We’ve all put our foot in our mouth and said the wrong thing at the wrong time. We’ve all made mistakes. Had our heart broken. Failed.

This is just part of being human. When we were plucked out of the Great Mystery and plopped into a human form this lifetime, we did not receive a written contract from the Universe stating that things would always go our way, and that others would see us as Divine, 24/7. We are gloriously imperfect creatures. We are hard wired to mess up. And this is true for every single one of us. You are not alone.

As sociologist and research professor Brené Brown says: Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that were all in this together.” 

Saying something ridiculous at a party or falling down in front of everyone at school…it can feel like the end of the world when you’re young. But if it happens to you (and you’re not fully living life unless it does), take solace in knowing that everyone on the planet has done something foolish in front of others. The moment it happens, know you are not alone.

Dust yourself off and try to laugh at the absurdity of trying to keep it all together.

If you’ve fallen on your butt, make eye contact with someone, crack a joke, connect with someone you trust. You’ll put it behind you. And you may make a new friend through being a fool.

Usually we fear screwing up in ways that make us look bad. But often we fear not living up to an expectation that could possibly further us scholastically, socially, career-wise. Our survival mechanism wants us to persist and conquer and be successful. But it’s important to remember that mistakes and missteps don’t automatically mean you are doomed for a lifetime of failure. Hell no!

Michael Jordan, widely considered to be one of the greatest basketball players had this to say: I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Understanding what doesn’t work helps you to realize what does work.

Whether it was learning how to teach meditation to students or making an audience laugh at my stand-up comedy shows, I have failed over and over again. And I don’t regret it. It’s how I’ve been able to navigate toward areas in life that feel more in alignment with my purpose, how I’ve connected with others, and how I’ve honed skill sets that have served me well in all areas of my work and life.

And I’ll continue to fail. I know this all too well, now. And I know it’s alright. It’s just part of life.

You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.” Sidonie Gabrielle Colette, Nobel Prize winning French novelist

Ever stay quiet rather than reveal your heart to another person? If you’re wise – or foolish, or both – you’ll dive in anyway and share yourself with someone to whom you yearn to be close. That’s the only way trust and intimacy is built in relationships. By being vulnerable, you lead the way for others to be vulnerable.

And I don’t know about you, but I’d rather know the contents of another’s heart rather than stay in the dark guessing. Sharing your heart with others is contagious. So dive in. Be curious over being “cool”. You’ll find the ones whose hearts match yours, but there’s only one way to find out: by taking that risk! 

So here are 3 things to remember when you mess up:

  1. Everyone is imperfect and makes mistakes, and this brings us closer together, not further apart. While we fear separation from others because of our imperfections, it’s precisely because we are imperfect that we belong to this tribe called human beings. Embrace your flaws, and embrace belonging. Your empathy deepens, your capacity to understand others and yourself grows, and you help people feel comfortable in their own skin. Self-acceptance leads to others feeling accepted around you, and that breeds closeness and bonding.
  2. If you’ve hurt someone with your screw-up, just apologize. People usually soften and open when they receive an apology. It can even bring you closer — or impress a colleague, boss, or teacher. In the rare instance that the person uses that opportunity to pummel you further while you already feel bad enough, take heart. Know that they probably suffer from a rejection of their own imperfections. You being brave enough to admit your mistakes is healing to others, and it shows strength. People get to see what true vulnerability and courage looks like – you. And that’s inspiring. I’d rather be inspiring than “right” or “perfect”.
  3. If you yearn to be closer to someone, risk looking “foolish” and open up. Be vulnerable. Take a chance that they may respond to what is in your heart in a way that you’ll be thankful for. But also, drop the need for them to receive it in any particular way. The joy of being open is in the openness itself, not how it’s received. When you share super vulnerable thoughts and feelings with someone, focus more on connecting with them, rather than protecting yourself. Drop the need to appear a certain way. Vulnerability is power. The kindest, bravest, wisest people are able to drop their armor and reveal themselves – warts and all – to others.

    1sarahAbout the Author: Sarah TAYLOR is one of Your Monthly Mentors, a meditation teacher and a Master Level Reiki Practitioner, as well as an actor, comedian, and writer based in Los Angeles, CA. Drawing from a Buddhist background as well as the other non-dual spiritual traditions, her classes and talks are accessible and filled with humor. She was a series regular for three seasons on NBC’s “In Gayle We Trust”, can be seen in the comedy feature, “The Golden Scallop” and has made appearances on Hot In Cleveland, Bunheads, and numerous other TV shows and films. Read More about Sarah or read many more of Sarah’s Articles… 

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