The Right to Fail

It’s my contention that the average Joe or Josephine on the street doesn’t get their behavior scrutinized half as much as people living with mental illnesses do.

On the flip side, the push to advocate for recovery for everyone can be well-intentioned. Yet it can set a person up to feel crummy when a goal they set for themselves doesn’t pan out.

Pat Deegan was prophetic in advocating for The Right to Fail.

I don’t like to use the term failure precisely because it’s a loaded word. Thinking that you have failed sets you up to not want to try again.

Instead you should think in terms of the action you took not panning out. You’re not a failure–you simply tried to do something that wasn’t viable in the end.

Living through the pandemic I’ve been thinking often about giving myself permission to fail at doing things.

For one I’m temperamentally unsuited to clean my apartment. Instead of doing my own wash I have a laundry service pick up and deliver back my laundry.

As well there are two donation bags that have been on the floor since March to take to the Salvation Army.

Fail boldly, I tell you.

Take the risk to achieve a goal. The outcome might sink like a lead balloon in a pond. That’s the signal to do things differently or to do a different thing.

My failed first career in corporate insurance offices is a cautionary tale about failure. It’s also a redemptive one.

I’ll talk next about the emotions that come up surrounding taking risks. And why sometimes you just have to risk trying one thing and then trying another.

Learning from our failures is the goal.

Author: Chris Bruni

Christina Bruni is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Left of the Dial. She contributed a chapter "Recovery is Within Reach" to Benessere Psicologico: Contemporary Thought on Italian American Mental Health. As well as an author and activist, Bruni is an artist and athlete.

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