Hi! I'm Carrien.

Are you really failing right now?

Published 7 months ago • 6 min read


Writer, Parent Mentor, Coach

I failed at least five times before breakfast today. (I haven’t had breakfast yet, so that number could change.) You see, I want to be able to hold a handstand for at least 30 seconds. I try if every day. After my morning Yoga practice I position myself next to the wall, (because I’m still scared to try it without a wall) and kick up into a handstand. I'm trying to get up without touching the wall for balance, and hold it for several breaths. Most of the time, I have to come down right after I go up, or one of my feet finds the wall to steady myself. But there was one moment when my hands gripped the floor properly, and my bones aligned just right, that I felt steady for a few seconds. I'm definitely not to 30 seconds yet.

I did not reach my goal today. But I keep pushing toward it. I wouldn't have progressed in the way that I have if I wasn't willing to try, and fail, over and over again, in order to build the skills and strength to do what I want to do.

The people who are constantly pushing their limits fail all the time. Elite athletes do this, musicians, artists… They keep challenging themselves to be better. They keep reaching for a higher level. Many of them don’t see this as failure though, they see it as progress.

You and I though, we don’t often tend to view ourselves that way when we’re pushing our limits. We tend to only see the ways we fall short of where we want to be, rather than the progress.

It’s when you’re pushing all the time that you might feel like you’re failing most days.

Every time you try a new thing, or try to level up on a thing you already do, you risk doing it poorly. (That could be anything from a new skill, to a different family schedule.) You keep trying to do things and handle all of the new challenges that life throws your way. You may constantly feel like you don’t know what to do.

In some cases it lasts years, this state of feeling like you are on the edge of failure every day, constantly falling short, making mistake after mistake, after mistake.


Want to change the story you tell yourself but not sure how?

I can help you with that. Let's talk.

Pan Out

Sometimes it takes a change of scenery, or a step back, to see how you’ve been pushing your limits, and living at the edge this whole time. Something happens that causes you to look back and see your progress, and notice how far you’ve come. Maybe you talk to someone who’s just starting out in something you’ve been doing for years already, or explain your work to someone who understands what it is you’re trying to do and they are impressed by what you’ve accomplished.

The first time I had a baby, caring for a new born felt like the hardest thing I’d ever done. (It probably was the hardest thing I’d ever done.) But by the time a had a third baby, parenting a new born felt like a vacation compared to all of the hard things I had done since then. (There were rare moments when someone would take over caring for my older children for a few hours and take them somewhere. Suddenly, being at home with only one baby felt like a rest.)

When you have small children you just do what you have to do. You keep your head down and endure the long sleep deprived days, just trying to do it as well as you can. Eventually the day comes when you look up and realize that it’s not as hard as it used to be, not because it’s any less hard, because you’ve become stronger. In the middle of it though, most days did not feel like #winning.

It’s nice to enjoy that realization for a short time before life moves on to the next hard thing, and you’re back at the edge, pushing hard to do what you have to do, and always feeling a little bit behind.

You Aren't Failing. You're Progressing.

The point, my friend, is that if you feel like you are a failure, the opposite is probably true. You aren’t failing. You are progressing. You are taking on harder and harder challenges and as you do you are growing and gaining strength.

When you start to feel defeated, look back. Look how far you’ve come. Listen to the questions of that first time parent who hasn’t done all of the things you’ve learned how to do yet. (Or any other category of life; that intern who’s just starting out in a field you’ve been working in for years, a person taking their first Yoga class when you’ve been practicing a long time, a teen learning to drive, a friend writing their first blog post, etc.) You know some things. You’ve gained a few skills. You’ve endured hard times. Because of that, you have progressed to a point where your younger self might not even recognize you.

You might just be so used to what you now do everyday that you don’t recognize how extraordinary it really is. There was a time when you could not do the things you now do every day without even thinking about them. There are many people in the world who can’t do what you do every day because they haven’t put in the time like you have, and gained the strength and skills.


Children find it even harder than we do to maintain perspective on things.

They don’t remember the steps they’ve taken so far to get to where they are at present. They only notice how hard the next step seems to be. You can help them back up and see the big picture. Remind them how far they’ve come, in any skill.

“Last year you could only read simple little books and now you’re trying to read all of these words. Of course it feels hard. But you’re so much better at reading now that I’m sure if you try, you’ll find out you can do it. Let’s just read it together, one word at a time.”

Remind them that once they couldn’t walk. Maybe even ask them to imagine what would have happened if the first time they fell down, they decided to never try walking again. Make it funny. "If you’d quit then, I’d still be carrying you around. That would be silly, wouldn’t it?"

The next time the word “failure” whispers its way into your ear, ask that voice a few questions.

Am I failing? Or is this just really hard? Have I stopped trying to do it well? (If you haven’t, you’re not failing.)

Am I failing, or am I actually at my limit for today? Am I failing, or do I just need a rest?

Athletes who train take rest and recovery days, they are vital to improving performance. Yogis and athletes use props to help them complete a movement that they are learning as part of training themselves to do the motion correctly. They give their bodies an assist so that they experience what it is to complete a motion they are still building the strength to do unassisted.

Maybe you need a rest day. Maybe you need an assist. Maybe you need to back up and look a little wider than this current moment so you can see more clearly how far you’ve come.

What I'm certain of is that you are not failing. You continue to show up for your life, every day, and try again. That takes courage my friend.

The next part might look like it's too hard, because you've never done it before. Just remember how many hard things you've already done, that got you to here.

Love, Carrien

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Hi! I'm Carrien.

I help parents raise resilient children, without feeling overwhelmed, so that they can be brave to try hard things.

I'm a writer, parent mentor, and resilience coach. My passion for helping parents to protect their children and raise them to be resilient has extended to creating resources that have helped thousands of refugee and migrant families on the Thailand/Myanmar border through my work with The Charis Project. - I am also the mother of 6 amazing and rather resilient humans, who have managed to thrive in spite of their unconventional upbringing and being dragged around the world by their parents. - Join me here for words to heal and fill your parent heart and shape the words you give to your children.

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