In yesterday's post on transforming your mess into a message that helps you learn to overcome the challenges of selling God, I promised you that I would help you find the lessons in that mess so that you can share them with other people and use them as part of your mission to change their lives for the better.
Admittedly, a lot of your past may be sad. It may be filled with abuse, betrayal, self-sabotage, and horrific loss. You don’t want to be the kind of person who walks in the room and brings everyone down because you’re sharing all that sadness. Nobody likes the person who brings the perpetual rain cloud with them to the party. How do you avoid becoming that person?
Give a Positive for Every Negative
For every negative moment of your past, you bring forward a positive that came out of that negative. You neutralize the past pain and leave them with a positive message that can help them. Your past pain, by itself, does not benefit them. It does not do anything other than let them know that you are human.
You must look for what you learned from those past painful moments. Every failure has a lesson. In fact, that’s what failure is. It’s a teacher. It’s designed to help us learn. The only reason we hate our failures is that we were trained to think they are bad or wrong.
Failure Means You're Learning
Babies don’t hate failure. They accept it. They fail millions of times in the course of learning to walk, talk, and sit upright. But they don’t give up and they don’t punish themselves for their failures. Parents don’t punish babies for failures. They accept that the falling and the babbling is normal and natural and part of learning.
It isn’t until we start school that we begin to fear failure. We fear the red F at the top of the page and the disappointment of our teachers and the punishments from our parents. We are told that F means no future for us. We fear the laughter of our peers and the shame of not having been able to get it right. And that’s where all of our troubles begin.
Don't Let the Fear of Failure Stand In Your Way
We fear failure enough that most of us stop trying to succeed. We stop trying to do anything meaningful because we’re so afraid of failing, so afraid of the consequences that come from failing, that we aren’t willing to take the risks required to succeed. That’s the truth of the matter.
There’s no bridge from safety and security to success and freedom. There’s a giant gulf between the two of them and you must be willing to take a leap of faith to cross that gulf. But if you let fear of failure rule your life, you’ll never find the courage to take that leap.
Don't Just Share Your Failures, Share Your Lessons
That’s why you should never be afraid to share your failure. Just be sure you share the lesson you learned from it when you do, so that someone else doesn’t have to fail the same way you did. That’s called passing on wisdom. Once you start doing that, people start coming to you for advice.
They know you’ve done a few things and you’ve got a lot of that experiential wisdom to share. You know what works and what doesn’t. You become something rare: an expert who has experience rather than just theory to back you up.
Every moment where you got hurt has a technique for healing attached to it. You were abused or raped or betrayed by someone you loved. What did you do to heal from that? How did you improve your life after that? The techniques you used to heal are INVALUABLE. Pass them on! Don’t hoard that gold. Share it with others.
Confront Your Mistakes
The hardest moments for us to share aren’t when someone did something to us, though. It’s when we’ve done something to hurt someone else. That’s when we’re most likely to lie to ourselves about what we did.
You know the lies.
“It wasn’t that bad.”
“Nobody REALLY got hurt.”
“They deserved it.”
“They can afford it.”
“They owed me.”
“I’m really doing them a favor, anyway.”
"They didn't REALLY mean no."
“They aren’t really human, so it doesn’t count.”
And, of course, our fail-safe favorite:
“I didn't have a choice.”
And we all know these are lies. It really was that bad. People really did get hurt. Maybe they did deserve it, but nobody appointed us as their judge, jury, and executioner. Maybe they can afford it, but that doesn’t give us the right to take it from them.
Maybe they did owe you, or maybe you’re just behaving like an entitled brat. If you’re really doing them a favor, you wouldn’t really feel guilty enough to need to justify your behavior. If they said no, you should always accept it at face value as no. If they aren’t human, what makes you so certain that you are? And as for the last one - you ALWAYS have a choice, whether you see it or not. You simply may not like the choices put before you.
Finding the Courage to Admit the Truth
It takes a lot of courage to look at these moments, when we are not the hero of the story but the villain of it, dead in the face and own up to them. It takes a lot of courage to admit to just how much darkness there is within us. However, until we can acknowledge the presence of that darkness, we can’t invite the light into it. We can’t pass on those moments and allow other people to benefit from them.
They become baggage that we are then forced to carry our whole lives, praying the entire time that nobody will ever figure out who we really are and just how bad we really are. It is time to set yourself free of that baggage. Own the damage you did. Use it to build a future for yourself and to help other people understand what led you down that path and how they can avoid making that same mistake.
Share the Good, Too. But Don't Hide the Rest.
Of course, your story isn’t just about pain and loss and the things you’ve done wrong. You also have successes to offer, achievements you’ve won, and struggles you’ve overcome. It’s easy to share those, though, because they make us look good. They make us look strong and admirable.
Those struggles we overcame are a hero’s journey, and we like to be the hero. But they aren’t the whole story of who we are, and if you want to reach the real people who make up your audience, you need to be just as real with them as you want them to be with you.
Tomorrow's Post: Identify Your Audience
There are many different people that your message can potentially appeal to. I'll be revealing the strategies you can use to sort through the potential people who might be interested in the story you have to tell and how you can pick just the right stories to support that message.
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