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1 Dec 2021
The Success in Failure
I had my first street fight when I was four years old. Billy was a six-year-old who lived in our neighbourhood across the street from us. One day I saw him steal one of our toys from the sandbox in our backyard. I ran after him and told him it was stealing. He just shrugged his shoulders crossed the street back to his house and sat down on his front lawn to play with my toy. I followed him home all the while yelling at him to give it back. Next thing I knew his mother came flying out of the front door of his house. Without a word she slapped me across the face and told me to go home.
It was the sixties; parents did that sort of thing.
My cheeks burned with pain and humiliation. Incensed and furious I ran back home. With tears running down my face I charged into the front room of my house and sobbed out my story to my mother. I stomped my little foot on the floor and demanded my mother defend me, like that Billy’s mother had. My mother just stood there calmly looking down at me as I wiped away my tears with the side of my arm. Then she did the unthinkable. She took me by the shoulders spun me around on my little white sneakers, slapped my butt, and told me to get back out there and defend myself.
Enraged at the injustice of it all I bolted out of the house ready for a fight. I charged back across the street and ran up to Billy who was still sitting on his front lawn happily playing with my toy. When he saw me coming, he looked up at me with this smirk on his face which made me just fume even more. I reached down and pulled my toy out of his hands. He stood up to his full height which was a good foot taller than me and grabbed the toy back. As we struggled in a tug of war while holding fast to my possession, I kicked him in the sweet spot. He fell to knees screaming in pain and I ran like the dickens back to my house. Thankfully his mom wasn’t around to defend him this time. I never did see him again which was perfectly fine by me.
News of the encounter quickly travelled around the neighbourhood. That little incident earned me a reputation it seems. Other kids weren’t so quick to mess with me after that encounter. What was more important to me, however, was that I learned a very powerful lesson that day. I discovered that I was perfectly capable of defending myself. My mother’s refusal to fight my battles taught me that there are wrongs in this world, and it is perfectly ok to make it right, even if they are older and bigger than you. I had a choice.
It helped to foster my independence and confidence. As I grew up, I developed an extremely low tolerance for bullies and emotional blackmailers. It got me into a lot of trouble over the years, especially in the workforce, which resulted in my being fired a lot. That made me feel like a failure.
Entering the workforce in those early years was quite a shock to be honest. I was quite surprised at the emotional atmosphere of a lot of the workplaces I found myself in. It wasn’t until I returned to school in my mid-forties that I learned a very important lesson from a college professor that really changed my outlook about the emotional environment of the workplace.
On our last day of classes one of our professors gave us a little going away speech. She told us that now that we are going back out into the workforce that it was important to not just take any job offered to us. She told us that when you are being interviewed for a job be aware that it is an opportunity for you to decide if this is an environment you want to work in. She wisely reminded us that the workplace is where you spend much of your time. For the sake of your mental health make sure it was a place you want to be in. Accepting a job just for the paycheque would only lead to unhappiness.
I had never looked at job hunting that way before. Who would have thought that when you are looking for a job that you had that much control over where you worked? It made me realize that I could be in control of where and how I wanted to work. I took that piece of advice to heart, and it radically changed where I chose to work after that. As a result, I had amazing jobs that helped me to grow and flourish.
It took me a long time to learn that not everything is a fight. But I also had to accept responsibility for the fact that every time I lost a job it wasn’t because I was a failure. It was because I didn’t fit in. I wasn’t being honest with myself. I didn’t choose where I wanted to work.
I started to accept that fact that I wanted to be my own boss. I wanted to set my own pace. I wanted to be able to love what I did in an atmosphere of cooperation. I knew that if I ever found myself in a position where I could be self-employed that I would be very clear about the how, when and where of what I was doing for a living.
When that opportunity presented itself, it took my breath away. I leapt at the chance and never looked back.
I had learned a lot of valuable lessons over the years and now I had the chance to incorporate that wisdom and be in control of my own future. Maturity taught me that there is a time to fight back and a time to walk away. Some battles just aren’t the hills you need to die on.
When I first started my healing arts practice, I knew precious little about the world of healing arts. I had no idea about what to expect when I opened my own practice. All I knew was that for the first time in my life I had found my passion. I was deciding on what I wanted to do. Getting certified in energy work ignited a deep desire within me. I just knew intuitively that I was going to do this regardless of what lay ahead. It was an opportunity and if it didn’t work out then fine. I knew how to fight for what I wanted. I knew how to lose and stop treating myself like a failure. When I first opened my practice, I didn’t realize how easy it was really going to be. I expected a mountain and found a mole hill. All of my life experiences – success and failures – had prepared me for this journey.
Fear of failure can be emotionally crippling. Uncertainty can feel like a huge mountain to climb. Maybe you are at that point in your life where you have a dream, but you don’t know how to get the ball rolling. You know you want to be in control of your own future and have the opportunity to choose the how, when and where. Sometimes all you can do is just leap. Will there be challenges? Yes, of course there will be. But sometimes you just have to have the courage to run with it and fight for what you believe in. I can tell you from experience that every battle you have already encountered in life has been preparing you for this next step. I can also assure you that your clients will benefit from that hard won wisdom. I see that every day in my practice and so will you.
“Failure always gets me to higher ground”
Atherton Drenth is the author of Intuitive Dance. Building, Protecting & Clearing Your Energy, (Llewellyn Worldwide) and Following Body Wisdom. Atherton is a Clairvoyant, Medical Intuitive and Holistic Energy Practitioner facilitating transformational healing for her clients. She has been extensively trained and certified as a Medical Intuitive and Holistic Energy Practitioner. She has been in private practice since 2000. She is also a compassionate teacher committed to helping others develop their full intuitive potential through yearly workshops. She has a private practice in Ottawa, Ontario.