Paulelmo's Blog

A healthy treatment for failure

boy sitting on concrete bench while holding laptop
Photo by Nicate Lee

I wish I had enough money to buy everyone a copy of Max Lucado‘s book Anxious for Nothing: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World. I do not, but at least I can recommend that you spend the ten or twelve bucks it costs and get one for yourself. If, because you have read this, you do happen to buy a copy and read it, then I will have accomplished the same thing; it’ll just be you who have had to part with the cash, rather than me.

Still, I want to share something with you that it has inspired me to write. I want to share something with you that Mr. Lucado shared with me. I would have wasted a lot less time being anxious if I had read these words earlier in my life.

He asks what would have become of him if he had never developed “a healthy treatment for failure.” Further, he asks “What kind of person does unresolved guilt create?”

He doesn’t have to answer those questions for me. I know the answer because I was the person living with unresolved guilt for decades. I was the man who had never developed a healthy treatment for failure.

The answer he gives defines the person I was during those years to a T. He says that person is “an anxious one, forever, hiding, running, denying, pretending.” I could see the person that I was even more in the words of a man he quoted to help him personalize the universal. “I was always living a lie for fear that someone might see me for who I really am and think less of me, disapprove of me, reject or judge me.”

Now, you old friends who were always wondering why I couldn’t figure out how to get out of the brutal spiral I was in–or have ever wondered the same of someone else–that’s pretty much the reason. I lived constantly with untreated failure, which led to unresolved guilt, which led to the anxiety that made me feel the need to recreate myself. Then, the circle would start all over because the way I tried to recreate myself was by doing the very same thing that had brought on the failure, guilt, and anxiety in the first place.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones‘ “Another Drinking Song” comes to mind, as it did a lot in those days. The whole song is quotable and I saw how it pertained to me. Here are a couple of stanzas that really stand out for a person in the grip of this spiral.

Countin’ on a remedy I’ve counted on before
Goin’ with a cure that’s never failed me
What you call the disease
I call the remedy
And what you’re calling the cause, I call the cure

Just a devotion to a potion
Now please no applause
And a dedication to a medication and a crutch, a cure, a cause
What I’ve counted on to pick me up has knocked me to my knees
Before I hit the floor, once more I’ll call it the disease

The irony of problem drinking is defined well in “Another Drinking Song” by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.

It’s such a difficult merry-go-round to get off of, and, while I told myself for years that I could get off of it, I’m not really sure if I ever really thought I could.

I could, however, and I did, and the amazing thing about the whole deal, the ironic aspect of it, was this: Not doing that thing that I thought would help me deal with the anxiety and help me create this person I thought others would like and respect is what has helped me become a likable and accepted person. Not doing that thing has taught me that the failures I was trying to live with are all in the past. Not doing that thing has helped me dispatch with the guilt.

And why do I write all this now? I write it hoping that it might help someone in a similar situation. If you’re using alcohol or drugs or whatever to help you give off this impression that you’re someone you think others will like and respect, and you’re using that thing so much that it’s a problem…not using that thing is going to give you the results you’re looking for. Quitting is going to help you come to terms with the failures of your past; it’s going to help you do away with the guilt; it’s going to help you be less anxious; and it’s going to help you to more closely resemble that person you’re trying to be, help you project that image you’re hoping to project.

And I so want this for you, friend, because I know first hand how wonderful it is to experience. What’s more, I know you can do it, whether you know that or not. You can get off that spiral and live an altogether different one. The spiral I live on now is similar in that it is ever recreating itself, but the habits are healthy. I wake up in the morning and I go through the day, every day, doing the next thing that needs to be done. The habit that has been created doesn’t allow for the time that the nonsense I used spend my time on required.

Yes, building this spiral of habit takes a while, but I have every faith that you can get there, and I’m here to help in any way I can.

That’s all I have right now, friends. Again, they aren’t perfect thoughts, but I’m gonna leave them out there with faith that they’re enough.

We’ll talk more about this sometime soon. Until then, you’re in my prayers, and I’m here if you need to talk.

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