Saturday, March 6th, 2021

R Shopper Columns


'. . .the sound of a windblown leaf will put them to flight.
They will run as though fleeing from the sword, and
they will fall, even though no one is pursuing them.'
Leviticus 12:36

Fear is a powerful emotion that can paralyze us. It can keep us from trying new experiences or taking the risks we know we need to take.

Many of us are afraid to try new challenges or make the changes we know we need to make because we fear failure. When we do fail at something, it is extremely important as to what interpretation we offer for the failure.

The conclusions and reasons we make for the failures can impact our self-esteem and our growth. Where many of us make our mistake when it comes to failing is labeling ourselves.

For example, after failing a test some of us might label ourselves by saying, 'I'm stupid. I'm a failure. I never do anything right.' So now when we take another test or try another project, we have to deal with our belief about ourselves. We are actually setting ourselves up for failure because the next time we have to take a test we have to struggle with the message that we are not capable of passing.

We never rise above what we believe about ourselves.

When I was growing up, some rental cars and trucks had a device known as a governor placed on them. The governor limited how fast the vehicle could go. No matter how much a driver pushed down on the accelerator, the vehicle would not go over a certain speed. Most of us have some sort of governors within us that act like invisible barriers restricting or minimizing our potentials. Often the governors are the ways we think, our beliefs about ourselves and the labels we attach to what we do.

We work up to a point and stop. Or we won't try new things or take on the challenges because of these invisible governors.

Instead of labeling ourselves, we need to label the action. 'I failed the test because I did not study the right things or I put off studying to the last minute.' When we label the action instead of ourselves, we can make the appropriate changes so we will do better next time. It was said that Thomas Edison was asked, 'How did it feel to fail 1400 times when trying to invent the light bulb?' His answer was, 'I learned 1,400 thousand ways of not making a light bulb. Every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward.'

Here are some points to remember:

make the word 'failure' a verb; not an adjective.

Always label your actions, not yourself or others.

The only people who are failures are those who believe they are.

The truth is that events that look like 'failures' often become opportunities and doors.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700