How to put yourself back out there after you fail:
I lay on the floor, staring up at the half painted wall, the perfectly selected shade of paint running slowly from my abdomen, onto my legs, down onto the floor.... And off the walls, and all over the arm chair.
My foot throbbed. I am not sure if it would be accurate for me to say that it broke my fall but despite landing on my back it was the only place in my body that felt like it was in pain.
Unless you count my ego. In that case my foot and my pride (and some furniture) were the only things injured by my spectacular 2 story plummet down from the painting ladder on Saturday afternoon.
“Thank GOD no one saw that.”
My older children tore into the living room very concerned - only for as long as it took for them to notice their matriarch in cookie monster pajamas covered in dusty pink paint. Soon I was joined on the floor by two children rolling in hysterics. “We can’t wait to tell daddy about what happened to YOU!!!”, they squealed.
I really was ok. My foot got bruised and my ego even more so, but as I began to clean up my mess, in between chuckling at what I must have looked like lying there, I caught myself laughing nervously as I glanced up at the wall that still needed to be painted.
“I am going to have to get back up there.”
“Why don’t you just make Daddy do it?”, my oldest caught me (she’s extremely observant)
“Because mommy needs to learn how to position a ladder properly, and how to stay on it if she wants to finish what she started here AND if she wants all those plans of hers to become a reality”... great… Danny’s home… and he’s decided to be empowering. Yuck.
The next day he wasted no time in repositioning the ladder and called me over - “up you go”. My stomach lurched. It felt like a stone moving further into my throat every step I took up there. My arms were trembling.
“I've got you… now grab the roller and finish it”.
I wanted to throw it at him. I wanted to scream. Tears started to roll down my cheeks.
“This is scarier than I thought it would be”
“I know, but I am here, and you need to finish this, you know what it feels like to fall down a 2 storey ladder, now you need to know what it feels like to finish the job, and to stay up there long enough to do it.”
And so began the long, arduous, stomach-churning task of trying again.
Step-by-step… piece by piece we got that wall finished.
Nervous trembles became steady hands.
Stomach-turning courage became confidence as eventually I was leaning a little further, climbing a little higher, and even moving up and down with a roller in one hand.
We did it.
We stood back shoulder to shoulder surveying the finished product and out of nowhere, something else started rising up from inside me.
Fresh tears, but this time they were proud, they were relieved, they were overjoyed.
Tears of joy. I can paint two stories up. Saturday’s fall was not the end of my story.
Life is full of moments like I had at the bottom of the ladder. Covered in paint, injured egos, bruised appendages and laughing onlookers.
It really is easier to clean it up, stay in bed and either get someone else to do it or forget we even wanted to change up the living room in the first place.
We may choose to try again - but we aren’t the same as we were the first time we tried, before we knew how much mess it made and how much it hurt to stumble and fall, before we first felt the pain of ‘failure’.
The stomach turning, the trembling, the tears - all make it infinitely harder to stay steady, to do our best, to make it work the second (or 3rd or 4th) time around.
But the satisfaction, the beaming pride, the tears of joy, and the confidence on the other side of your courage are all worth it.
If you’re standing at the bottom of a ladder, with a paint roller after you’ve taken a tumble… and you’re wondering how on earth you’re going to make it this time… here are 3 things I’ve learnt from getting back up and out there - 3 things that I believe will make it easier for you too:
1. Ask for help.
Find someone who’ll hold the ladder, show you how you messed up last time and won’t let you quit on yourself. We need people around us who will push us forward, not hold us back.
2. Make Intentional Changes
Go back to the scene of the crime and learn from what happened and why. I learnt the day after my “incident” that i did in fact, not know how to position such a big ladder (we had borrowed a new, taller one from a friend and it required some insight I didn’t have just yet). Part of the process of trying again needs to include trying differently. We aren’t failures when we experience failure, we just needed support or knowledge we didn’t have just yet.
3. Be brave ASAP
It doesn’t have to be climbing back up the ladder you fell off 24 hours ago - but do SOMETHING a little scary (push yourself back out of your comfort zone just a little bit). Show your brain and your body that you can do hard things… grow in some confidence before tackling something daunting again.
If you’re facing some serious fear, and you’re struggling to get back out there again - I’d like to invite you to “The Brave Hearts Club: Courage Week” - a free virtual event over on Facebook in my Facebook community.
- hear from women just like you as they bravely share their own experiences with fear & courage
- hear from women who walk ahead of us as they share with us what they WISHED they knew when they were in our shoes
I’d love to have you join in… Click HERE :)