“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
– Napoleon Hill
There’s a quote from Rocky that comes to mind about life, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.”
The most powerful words reside at the end, “if you let it.” We each have the power to decide what we allow, and especially how we feel.
So why do so many of us feel like we’re failing at life all too often?
We have an interaction at work, or with a friend or family member, or see the accomplishments of others are we’re ready to crawl into a hole as a complete failure. Our feelings about ourselves are inferior to those around us, all while feeling like we’re completely behind the curve.
So what are some of the common reasons you may feel you’re failing in life?
1. You hold a very narrow view of your life
On the alter wall of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City resides a masterpiece from Michaelangelo – The Last Judgement. When standing before the 1769sqft of art, you see the beauty, and it’s remarkable.
What would happen if I were to stand you so close to the wall your nose was touching? Would you see a 475-year-old masterpiece? Or paint smudged with the same skill level as a kindergartner?
The point is you need distance, a wide-angle view. The farther you are from the wall, the more complete the picture. And the more you breathe in the beauty.
In your life, you likely get sucked into the “rabbit hole of responsibilities.” From your personal to professional life, your head is spinning with must do’s, have to-do’s, and need to-do’s. All of which hold priority – at the same time nonetheless!
At times, you need distance. Distance from the madness of a single day, week, or month, to see and appreciate your life as a whole. And I don’t care who you are, everyone can find something to appreciate.
What can you do?
Pull yourself back from the daily or weekly grind and reflect on your life as a whole. Chances are you will make great connections and see the value and meaning you’ve made in the world already and boost your confidence.
This exercise is so profound that you should schedule it with some degree of regularity to offset the likelihood of falling down the spiral staircase. And that would mean now! Pull out your phone and set a date for the event titled, “walk away from the wall and admire it all.”
2. You compare yourself to others without thinking about the iceberg effect
You’ve likely seen a picture of an iceberg taken from the surface of the water, and chances are it looked humongous. The astonishing fact is that you only witnessed a percentage of the entire iceberg, roughly 10%. That means nearly 90% lay below the surface.
How is this applicable?
It’s one of the most powerful metaphors to reframe your perspective. When comparing yourself to others and feeling you’re off track, remember you only see a percentage of the story.
Perhaps you admire their level of success and compare your accomplishments with theirs, and suddenly you’re questioning your entire life’s decisions. Keep in mind you’re missing the 90% of what they went through, which if you knew, you’d likely realize you’re doing just fine.
Comparing to others can be advantageous and deadly all-in-one, but I’ll save these for another time. I’ll just advise using the iceberg reference so you refrain from making snap judgments and allowing your confidence to be hacked altogether.
Besides, you should look internally and reflect on the more important person, yourself.
3. You’re fixated on salaries or titles and you give them too much importance
Listen, I’ve been there before. All I wanted was to earn six-figures before I was 30 years old. An accomplishment I believed would defy the odds given my upbringing and family history. It would say “I made it,” and “I’m a somebody.”
There wasn’t much else that mattered. Relationships could fall by the wayside and facets of my life could deteriorate. They were simply collateral damage for the war I was fighting against anyone competing for the salary and title I was seeking.
So what happened when I hit my goal? Ask me what people said or what was written about it. Nothing!
Okay, maybe my family said “great work,” but that’s about all. It’s like the joke Kevin Hart makes about wearing expensive clothes and expecting people to recognize such importance (great little bit by the way).
So what did I realize?
Looking back, I learned the lesson so many preach, “money isn’t everything.” And though I firmly believe it certainly changes the quality of one’s life, it only does so in direct proportion to the quality of decisions that individual makes. More on this another time.
My path made me realize I wasn’t alone. Many people place their worth as an individual on their salary or title.
I once heard a top-rated teacher say the following in response to a major educational accomplishment, “it’s great, but I’m still not making as much money as other people.” It completely broke my heart to hear.
Maybe it’s our conditioning. Or maybe it’s societal. I mean, who wants to grow up to be the Vice President? Just about everyone wants the top position. “Go big or go home,” right?
If you’re feeling behind in life, I urge you to consider if your pursuit for a specific salary or title is the source of your misery. If so, snap out of the coma. As an individual, you are multifaceted. You possess many strengths. And if you’re having trouble finding them, use the first bullet point above and get some distance.
Your salary and title are very limited in the complete makeup you offer to this fine world. Salary and title are not the only prizes worth fighting for in life.
4. You see and believe the façade
So much of the world around us is a façade. By definition, a façade is “an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant or creditable reality.”
Let’s be honest for a moment. Have you been through a breakup where they called it off? Do you remember seeing them the first time after the dust settled? Did you give the impression life was simply amazing? Or better yet, were you posting pictures online with the devilish intent to arouse jealousy? Come on, be honest.
I’m not afraid to admit, I’ve been there. And just like many others, I wanted to create a believable facade. It was my intent to arouse jealousy while masking the pain inside. With people doing this all the time, believe me, there are plenty of facades out there.
Social media becomes the primary source of such falsities. It also becomes the source of jealousy and envy. And such feelings leave people to believe they are failing in many areas in life.
Before you fall for the trap, remember, anyone can literally be anyone online. Heck, a teenager can falsify their PayPal balance with a simple tutorial online and pose as a millionaire.
Be careful with what you choose to believe as gospel. We can all put on a happy face, tell a great story skewed to our advantage, all in hopes of concealing something. But it doesn’t mean it’s true.