Why I Stopped Trying

by Mark Ivar Myhre on February 16, 2008

Here’s one of the most insidious ways we limit ourselves… and block ourselves… and put up walls to any and all success in our lives.

It’s the number one reason I myself was so miserable for so many years.

It’s why I felt like such a failure for most of my life.

It’s why I’d get so close to success – I could taste it – but so often it alluded me. You know how your mouth literally starts to water as you begin to eat? That’s how close I used to get to success – only to fail one more time.

After a while, I ‘learned my lesson’.

That’s when you stop trying… when you just want to avoid greater pain.

“If I stop trying – then it won’t hurt so bad.”

So I learned to live a life of getting by – with as little change as possible. Don’t rock the boat; just go through the motions of pretending to live a life.

That’s where I found myself: afraid to try because I didn’t want to feel the pain of failure one more time.

Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with failure. It can be a teacher and a guide to show you what doesn’t work:

“Here’s another way to not make a light bulb. Let’s try something else for a filament.”

Failure can be a wonderful teacher if you let it. But here was my problem:

Every time I failed, I ‘internalized’ it. Meaning, I took my failed experience – whatever it was – and used it to prove I was a failure. See the difference?

“I failed” is a vastly different statement than “I am a failure”.

It’s funny, because I’d actually say, “This doesn’t make me a failure – it just means I failed here.” I’d say those words, but guess what?


I would tell myself, “Mark, you’re not a failure.” But my belief and attitude was – I AM a failure. And I felt like a failure. I thought I was a failure. I decided I was a failure.

But I covered up those real statements with a lie: “Mark, this doesn’t mean…”

My slumping shoulders, I’m sure, betrayed my true feelings. Too bad I didn’t take a good hard look in the mirror!

Here’s the point:

I honestly didn’t realize I was internalizing my failures.

I wasn’t recognizing the pain I felt from failing. I covered it up instead. I used my failure as proof I was a failure. Without even realizing it.

That’s called shaming yourself.

When you shame yourself, it’s like putting on a blindfold and walking naked into a field of cactus.

It’s going to hurt. But who put on the blindfold? And who chose to walk into the cactus?

Nothing good ever comes from shaming yourself. Even though a little admonishment – on occasion – may produce a favorable result. Maybe.

Shame, however, only produces pain. It robs you of your power. It fosters irresponsibility. And it almost always goes unnoticed.

It becomes such a habit, we don’t even realize we’re doing it. For example:

“I deserve to be punished” is a shameful statement. Yet it almost sounds like a responsible statement.

When it comes to deserving – what you deserve as a result of failure is more love, more healing, more forgiveness, and more self-acceptance. Period.

I don’t know why it took me so long to figure this out; especially since it’s so obvious.

But once I did understand – “hey, I’ve shamed myself so much when I’ve failed, that now I’m afraid to even try! Because there’s a mountain of unresolved pain I’ve stuffed down.”

Once I understood what I was doing, then I could get about the business of feeling the pain of my past failures, so the pain would release.

As the pain is felt, it releases.

As the pain releases, it gives off power.

As it releases, the energy behind the pain is retrieved, and I become more powerful.

Feeling my pain – honestly, cleanly – makes me more powerful. Hiding, stuffing, avoiding, denying, running from my pain, pushing against it, fighting it – makes me weaker and more ashamed.

You can’t win a fight against pain.

All I have to do is ‘go into’ my pain – as a warrior – with an open heart and an open mind… yes, I may cry for a day or two or three. It happens sometimes. So what?

I’d rather be powerful.

Most of my life I’ve experienced emotional pain of varying intensity. But I discovered the running and avoiding was worse than the pain itself.

The tendency of pain is to release itself.

I had to make it stick around. The best way I knew of was to shame myself. Put myself down. Internalize my failures. Give up on life.

I got to where I was afraid to try because I was afraid to feel my pain. The fear was worse than the pain.

Because of the fear – I kept the pain alive. I waited decades to face my pain. Then I realized it’s never too late to change.

Be willing. Choose. Then let the ability to change flow into you.

That’s the secret.



Anonymous February 17, 2008 at 11:24 pm

I stumbled on your blog while trying to figure out my non-anger issue. It helped so much to put anger in perspective. Thanks for that.

Then I came across this posting. I have recently started "trying again" and this has given me encouragement. I just interviewed for a job that I would have thought "beyond me" not two months ago.

It's nice to know I'm not alone in my dealing with my past attitude problems nor am I alone in my attempts to change them.

I will visit again for some of your insight. Once again I realize there are no such things as accidents.

Think warm thoughts for those of us up in Chicago.
Joan Z.

ivar February 18, 2008 at 7:49 am

Anger was one of the toughest emotions to feel. I was so scared of my own repressed anger because I was afraid it would make me be 'out of control'.

I didn't think I'd be able to control my own anger. Then I realized it's not about controlling it. It's about feeling it cleanly – without any stories attached.

Now I LOVE to feel anger. Although I hardly ever do. Sigh.

You're definitely not alone, Joan.

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