Imagine a baby learning to walk. The ideal approach for the parent or caretaker is to allow the baby enough space to have minor falls. The kind of fall where the baby can pick herself back up and try walking again. These experiences are important because the act of overcoming them gives the baby a sense of mastery and confidence in her walking. At the same time, you don’t want the baby to take such a serious tumble that she ends up hurt or terrified, and cannot pick herself back up to walk again. As a parent, you want to try, as much as possible, to allow the little one enough freedom where she can experience manageable falls.
I find this image of the baby learning to walk a helpful one to keep in mind, because I believe the concept applies to individuals across the age spectrum, engaging in most activities. We should strive, as much as it is possible, to lead our lives and to open ourselves up to situations where we can experience such manageable falls – and even manageable failures.
We are taught to push the limits. If you fail; try, try, and try again until you succeed. To never fail is to miss out on experiencing the valuable self-confidence that emerges when you succeed at the task you weren’t able to accomplish previously. But to be able to get back up on that proverbial horse, you can’t have been knocked unconscious by the initial fall.
Just as a parent provides a dependable environment for the baby learning to walk, so that she may fail yet still feel safe to try again; we should allow ourselves, no matter our age or circumstance, the opportunity to experience manageable falls.