My Failures — Part 1 of ?
I have been fretting over starting this article for two days.
The basic idea here is that I have made various errors of judgment, decision, and action in the past. Because I have not adequately examined these errors I have not sufficiently developed the ability to avoid them in the future and do better. To do better in the future we must learn from the past. To develop foresight we must develop hindsight. A number of psychologists and philosophers talk about this. My favorite is Jordan Peterson. Here are two selections from his paper “Self-Deception Explained”, and one from “Complexity Management Theory”. (Somewhere he expresses the exact idea that I’m using better, but I can’t find it at the moment.)
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…not only do those who avoid get worse, but those who voluntarily expose themselves to the anxiety-provoking and depressing — even if extremely traumatic — get better! Pennebaker and colleagues have demonstrated, for example, that normal individuals who detail their past traumatic experiences decrease their autonomic reactivity (Pennebaker, 1993) and their subjective experience of distress, stimulate productive behavioral change, enhance their immune function, and improve their physical health over time (1988, 1989; Pennebaker & Hoover, 1985; Pennebaker & Susman, 1988; Petrie, Booth, Pennebaker, Davison & Thomas, 1995), while suppression of emotional thought (Petrie, Booth & Pennebaker, 1998), by contrast, decreases immune functioning. Pennebaker is convinced, specifically, that the act of turning trauma into words is therapeutic (Pennebaker, Mayne & Francis, 1997).
The individual must be willing to voluntarily face the consequences of the errors of the past, to gather the information “embedded” in the territory whose existence is revealed by those errors, and to reconstruct society and self as a consequence of creative, exploratory behavior.
If my account of an event, say, as perpetrator, does not take into consideration your account, as victim (which means that it does not provide a story or encapsulation that is coherent, to you, and communicable, to you, and further, if it fails to convince you that it will not ever happen again), then your inability to forget and get on with your life is evidence for the insufficiency of my account. Understanding is the barrier to repetition. Understanding the past makes it go away. And “go away” means that it does not rear its ugly head in the present, in the form or recurrent “memory,” or in the future, in the form of replication of the original trauma.
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I recently saw a post on Twitter that stated “Painting is but another word for Feeling.” Well, painting is to feeling as writing is to thinking. One of the functions of writing is to refine thinking. That’s what we’ll be doing here.
Today I’m just going to write a list of things that didn’t work out that great in my life in various ways. It probably won’t seem that coherent because it isn’t. Then, later, I will be going through these instances and trying to figure out what went wrong, why, what I should have done instead of what I did, and how it might have worked out if I had done better. If successful this should help me to develop more certainty about my decision processes, actions, and judgments in the future.
Here’s a short list of My Failures:
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Inability to deal with Andrew’s death
Inability to deal with either miscarriage
Inability to get accepted to St. John’s College for Master’s degree
Not being aware enough to take full ride scholarship out of high school
Inability to do much with ShoulderMend
The whole Africa ordeal, planning and execution
Mishandling of football injuries, shoulder, concussions, thigh, ankle
Mishandling of job at Mt. Rainier
Mishandling of the end of relationship with Karissa
Mishandling of University of London philosophy program
Mishandling of 42 School date offer
Mishandling of 42 School opportunity
Lack of developing skill in trade, career, music, sport, art, or language
Mishandling of Aflac job
Mishandling in planning and execution of move to New York City
Mishandling of Parent Planet job
Mishandling of Vermont camp job
Mishandling of 5/3 Bank job
Moving from Texas
Mishandling of cold calling from home job
Lack of progress on writing contests
Lack of success as freelance copywriter
Various decisions involving Jeff’s Bait and Tackle
Headbutting in football game
Lack of organization in room, schedule, and priorities
Getting trapped on a mountain cliff
Passing out alone in the desert
Getting lost in the Bronx
Sleeping in the car in Fort Worth
Tent collapsing from snow out west
Karissa’s sunburn at Mt. Rainier
Karissa getting sick going over the Rocky Mountains
Selling the motorcycle
Mishandling of interactions with doctors
Failure to make progress on fiction writing
Failure to make progress on philosophy essays
Failure to start a business, and make money
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Well, I think and hope that’s enough to start with because it is intimidating looking at that list. I have no idea what’s going to happen when I start exploring these, but we will find out soon.
You can find more of what I’m doing at http://www.JeffreyAlexanderMartin.com