By Dietitian Jill Place
Well … YOU know that word even though I’m disguising it … but political-correctness (and search engines) do not permit. A couple of weeks ago, I was having a lovely breakfast with my lovely friend, Anneleise, in the lovely Bath Street Inn in Santa Barbara when I blurted out, “F&#%ing Up is a Learning Experience!”
I don’t even know what the conversation was about at the time. But I instantly said … “That’s my next blog!”. And so it is!
Because the conversation then strayed to how much we HAD f&#%ed up throughout the years. And since we had over a hundred years of living between us, there were a few.
I was thinking I’d tell you about a few of mine here. But I’m sure … like me … when thinking about it … you could call up a few yourself.
Instead … this article is a cautionary tale … and an uplifting one. First of all … let me get the cautionary tale out of the way …
When F&#%ing Up ISN’T a Learning Experience
Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood ~ Helen Keller
Experience may frighten us and weaken us. This fear may make us unable to move forward in our lives.
Haven’t you met people like that? I certainly have. And if you’re a woman … I’m sure there are more of us. Because … quite frankly … we don’t have many role models that are strong and overcome all obstacles.
Yeah … you read about female role models every day … but they seem so out of reach. And iconic. And SCARCE!
Years ago … when I was a young actress … there was a student in my class at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute named Dale. She shared with me that she didn’t think she was beautiful.
I said, “You’re on a F&#%ING billboard on Hollywood Boulevard!” (there she was … full-bodied in a bikini) “What are you talking about?”
So this absolutely GORGEOUS woman not only didn’t get how gorgeous she was … she was in a very abusive relationship with a powerful man … a producer. Obviously … she never went anywhere. And probably got lost … and eventually lost her looks (don’t I know it!) … like so many pretty young actresses do.
What I’m saying is that Dale was probably stuck in a maze of poor female role models, early scripting about her value, and possible trauma. She lacked the ego strength … and the courage … to move forward.
Or even consider mantras like “I feel compelled to go to places I haven’t been to before. I think I can go anywhere and do anything!” It’s funny that I say that because I actually blurted it out during a dinner I had with a friend a long time ago.
In response to her comment of “I don’t push myself much.” Which was weird because, as a therapist and author, all she wrote about was change.
What a large volume of adventures may be grasped within the span of his little life by him who interests his heart in everything ~
OK … here are some ways to make f&#%ing up a learning experience …
Embrace F&#%ing Up as a Given
You learn a great deal from pain than you will ever learn from pleasures ~
I was sharing this very topic with my girlfriend, Jeannine, AKA wonderful author E.A. Carter, during our weekly call yesterday. Jeannine and I met when she interviewed me months ago for a podcast. And we’ve been friends ever since.
She’s in London … I’m in L.A. … eight hours apart in time. But we manage to talk almost every Friday morning (for me).So when I said ... 'F&#%ing Up is a Learning Experience' SHE asked, 'who would have it any other way?'Click To Tweet
I’m sure Jeannine has done a bit of f&#%ing up in her life … as have most of us who have lived a bit. But … instead of getting scared and shutting down … she’s embraced it as a fact of life.
The pre-Socratic philosopher, Heraclitus, was the first to champion change as the essence of life. His quote, “change is the only constant”, is still quoted today.
Heraclitus believed that only those who pursued truth could be fully awake and fully alive. And to not be afraid of change because it’s inevitable and will have to be dealt with eventually.
I agree with Heraclitus. So why not only embrace this new mindset. But enjoy the process too?
Think “How Can I Learn from F&#%ing Up?”
I was told by Lee Strasberg that I passed my first Actor’s Studio audition because I was “a good actress”. Icon, two-time Oscar winner, and my mentor Shelley Winters told me “you’re fantastically talented but over-trained. Go get a job!”
That was all great to hear. But I think that the biggest take-away from that whole part of my life was developing curiosity (another side-benefit of f&#%ing up) about how I did whatever I did.
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. ~
Even more important … when stuff happened I would think “Boy, can I use that!”. And began to dissect it … my motivation for it … and the emotion behind it.
It helped in so many ways besides my acting. First of all, I learned a lot about myself from taking apart things that I did. Especially when I f&#%ed up.
Because I have a life-long tendency to dwell on … obsess about really … my f&#%-ups. It started with a pair of red shoes I ruined when I was eight at my first singing recital. I must have obsessed about those for weeks. And tried to clean them … which make them even worse.
But when I f&#% up now … after years of asking myself what I have to learn from this (because I don’t think my f&#%-ups are random anymore … they’re usually either about not paying attention or being out of balance) … I’m good at it.
I’ve gotten to the point where I can let go of things a lot more quickly than I did those red shoes. And dissecting what I do really helps me put it into perspective.
It also … and I think this is most important …learning from f&#%ing-up gives me enough clarity to NEVER MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE TWICEClick To Tweet.
Figure Out Ways to Be Positive
I’ve found … in my own life … that working on developing a positive attitude was all-important in my learning about myself. And that learning to be positive about myself was in itself a learning experience.
Not to mention embracing change with all its hairy-headed monster faces. Because if you walk around thinking gloom-and-doom … or “I don’t push myself” … when bad things happen … they’ll just get worse.
It’ll be especially difficult when you f&#% up. During those times, you may in danger of falling off the earth, meeting those dragons, and never recovering a good attitude.
Positive anything is better than negative nothing ~ Elbert Hubbard
My all-time favorite way to start off the day in a positive way is to do gratitudes. There are many ways to do this. One is by simply writing on a piece of paper, “I am so grateful and happy now that … ”
And list them. See if you can get to 100.
But my all-time fave is to put one foot on the floor when you get up in the morning and say to yourself “thank” … Then … when you put the other down say or think … “you”.
And all the way into my kitchen and while I’m making my morning coffee I do the same with every footfall as I think of all the things I’m grateful for. Works every time to start your morning right …
Great things happen to those who don’t stop believing, trying, learning, and being grateful ~
But that’s just the beginning ofdeveloping a positive attitude. It takes believing, trying, and being open to learning. Also being curious about how you tick. And finally allowing yourself to feel those feelings that can be so scary if you don't allow them out on a regular basis.Click To Tweet
Yeah … this all takes time and effort. But I ask you … what’s the alternative? Hiding, being stuck, and never growing? I think not.
I know you know people like that. They don’t call it “lives of quiet desperation” for nothing! Don’t you be one of them …
Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony ~ Mahatma Gandhi