"The truth is that the only time we ever really "fail" at anything in our life is when we mistakenly walk away from it before we've allowed it to teach us its secret ways."
How do we normally develop a new skill? For example, how do we learn to high jump? We listen to instruction, and perhaps we watch someone else; but for the most part, we learn by doing; by trying it ourselves. Generally, with our first attempts we end up crashing into rather than clearing the bar, and when we do, there's no denying it. We can see, and feel, that we've come up short. Our collapsed condition tells us, unmistakably, that we've done something wrong. So now, we try a new angle of approaching the bar, or a new technique of leaving the ground. We do this over and over. And each time we fail to hit the mark, we see we've made a mistake and we alter our behavior, knowing that eventually our self-correction will lift us to the success we desire.
These elementary but exact laws of learning are the same when it comes to our psychological and spiritual development. Each time we feel an emotional pain, we should use that as a signal that we've made a mistake, that we've crashed and now need to find and try another new way. For example, our presently pained position is the proof that our past responses to personal crises are inadequate to clear the barriers we still are crashing into -- that we not only need a new way to meet life, but that our old ways just don't work. The problem for most of us is that we rarely allow ourselves to learn in this way. We have hundreds of experiences each day in which our expectations crash into reality. Whenever this happens, we have a close encounter of the truthful kind, because in that same moment of trial we see for an instant that we really don't know what to do. These small and large self-crashes in themselves are not a problem. They are, in a way, the school of life. The problem is that we won't admit we don't know what to do. We don't use the event to learn a new response. Instead, we become defensive and return to the same mindset that led to our latest collision.