4 Ways to Give Yourself Permission to Try Again

Jan. 15th, 2018

Before I solidified my journaling practice, I had tried on a number of occasions to start one. I have several journals from years and years ago that have writing only in the first handful of pages. In alignment with one of my goals for 2018, I moved these relics into a chest with my newer journals, filled notebooks, and a few other precious items. The chest is the kind of thing I would rescue during a fire. This action made me realize that these half-empty books are indeed precious to me.

I thought they might have come to represent failure. Because of this realization, I decided to do something to further solidify the symbolism. I chose one of the nicer journals (I live in fear of low quality paper or ink causing my writing to become even more illegible over time) and plan to start writing on the first available blank page. It is a way of showing myself through action that these old journals are not symbolic of failed attempts, but of the building blocks of something that was clearly very important to me.

Failure is a very complex topic. For ADHD individuals it can be even more so, because we have a hard time moving past what we view as failure. This could be because failures in our past have been traumatic in nature, or simply because we fear others commenting on our failures so much that we make it a point to highlight them first, as a defense mechanism.

Anything worth doing is worth trying again after an unsuccessful first attempt. “The best teacher failure is.” Yoda reminds us. So how do we give ourselves permission to get back in there and try again, after we stumble?

I wish I could say there is a quick and easy formula. “Tick all these boxes and you will be successful.” But there is no such simple answer.

Here are some things to consider, however:

1. Awareness

Many people are simply unaware they are not giving themselves permission to move on and move forward. This is partially why David Giwerc wrote his book Permission to Proceed. Before we can make the choice to give ourselves permission to try again, we have to be aware that, first, it is important, and second, that it has been lacking up until now.

2. Demolish barriers

Some negative events have such a devastating impact on the brain and psyche that any connection or similarity to those events, in the present, cause us to be unable to process things rationally. This is when a professional is needed to effectively deal with this emotional blockage before the individual can move forward.

3. Reconnect to the excitement

It’s hard enough trying again without fighting lack of motivation as well. Find a way to reestablish an emotional connection to the reason for starting and for preservering on that course. Then find a way to keep that reason in mind.

4. Understand what’s different

Although none of these points is necessarily more important than the others, this is a central point. It is an underlying principle of all change, that I mentioned here as well. If all we have when we try again is determination, we will fail again. Because not only is it likely we had the same amount or more determination last time, but determination on its own is not enough.

Knowing what is different this time around, be it because we hired someone expert in our goal, or have added education on the topic, have changed medication, can identify a new and superior support system, or whatever it is. That difference is the only thing we can rely on to indicate whether our chances at success have increased since last time.

What could you give yourself permission to do?