Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson once considered himself to be a failure. He played football in college, and his dream was to become a professional football player. He entered the draft, but he was never picked. He pursued his dream by joining a Canadian league but was cut. In some of his inspirational speeches he talks about how he had no career and $7 in his pocket. Today, he is estimated to be worth a net of $280 million. “The Rock” was considered to be one of the most successful wrestlers in his era, but he left that career to pursue another passion to become a prosperous actor and producer. While I am not personally interested in professional wrestling or the majority of the movies Dwayne Johnson has been a part of, I admire his drive to change his life.
One of the things Dwayne Johnson talks about is that success and failure are not sudden moments in our lives. He says that we move in the direction of success or failure with each step we take, each second that passes. Each decision we make moves us toward one or the other.
We have probably all read about various people who failed to do what they set out to do initially but went on to do even greater things. Thomas Edison is probably one of the most famous examples of this. In his attempt to create the lightbulb, he attempted unsuccessfully over 10,000 times. After thousands of these attempts he was quoted as saying, “Why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitely over 9,000 ways an electric lightbulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.” Not only did he figure out how to get that lightbulb to light, but he went on to have over 1,000 patents. I am sure many people wondered why he did not throw in the towel during his quest to invent the lightbulb, especially after so many “failures,” but each “failure” was actually another step toward success. This is true not only because he was finding what did not work to get to what did work but because he was choosing not to give up.
These two men probably transcended to roles that they and others assigned to them. Dwayne Johnson’s successful college football career set him up to believe he was talented, but the feedback he was given by the NFL and the Canadian league gave him a much different view of himself. Thomas Edison was told by his teachers that he was too stupid to do anything with his life. They believed he was incapable of learning. If either of these men had believed what others thought of them, they probably would not have continued to strive toward something better.
Additionally, Orison Swett Marden, an author in the late 1800’s who wrote about living successfully said, “What we sincerely believe regarding ourselves is true for us.” It is one thing for someone to communicate to us that we are a failure. We may grow up hearing that we are not good enough, not smart enough, not strong enough, not attractive enough, or whatever else the critic can say, but those voices mean nothing unless they become our voice. “What we sincerely believe regarding ourselves is true for us.”
My inner voice is a terrible critic: I am a failure, I am inadequate, I am incapable, I will never be enough, I will always be a disappointment, I am a f***up. I have this block in my brain that does not allow me to see the accomplishments in my life the majority of the time. Instead, my thoughts frequently travel the well-worn groove of past mistakes; those things I see as dishonorable, indecent, immoral, ignorant or unintelligent. I follow the path in my thinking from these mistakes to the effects and cringe outwardly and inwardly. I fight to show myself kindness every day in the midst of intense hate. I fight to keep from making another bad choice to punish or numb myself. I know that each step toward kindness and away from punishment and numbing is a step toward success and a step away from failure, but each step in a marathon gets more and more difficult.
I “sincerely believe” that I am nothing but a f***up – a failure, but I have been encouraged to acknowledge that there is so much more to me than that. Listing my failures would be so much easier, but as I have said before: “negativity begets negativity.” I will use my “failures” to recognize my “success.”
The following assessment of myself is not meant to make me look good or puff myself up, but it is meant to be an honest look at the “much more” of who I am. So, without further ado, I am funny, hopeful, organized, motivated, hard-working, brave, intuitive, energetic, passionate, compassionate, empathetic, loving, friendly, giving, discerning, intelligent, surviving, accepting, mindful, coping, living, entertaining, adventurous, independent, strong, curious, patient, self-controlled (most of the time), open-minded, committed, goal-oriented, encouraging, empowering, responsible, sensitive, logical, supportive, respectful, competent, thoughtful, appreciative, humble, playful, healing, thankful, grateful.
I have stayed out of the hospital for nearly 17 months and laced my “hospital shoes” again, worked hard to keep from self-harming, reached out for help when I needed it, discussed difficult memories and topics with my therapist, committed to honesty with my psychiatrist, self-sabotaged but recognized it and agreed to move toward the next telephone pole, tried to understand and experience my emotions honestly, become more aware of triggers, acknowledged fear, started seeing a nutritionist to have a healthy relationship with food and my body, joined a gym and push myself without trying to overdo (most of the time), maintained a part-time job for the past 8 months, communicated my own mistakes and times when I felt others disappointed me, apologized for mistakes and times I have disappointed or hurt others, recognized people who make me feel badly about myself and attempted to set some boundaries, worked on my relationships, begun to communicate needs and wants, set time for myself and my own preferences and attempted to become more intentional about connection with others.