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Stop failing. Succeed now || Acharya Prashant, with NIT-Silchar (2022)

Author Acharya Prashant

Acharya Prashant

10 min
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Questioner (Q): My question is related to failures. I’ve been a very positive-minded person, and I’ve been trying my best to do everything that I can, give my best in everything; but I’m disappointed with myself - not disappointed with others - but with myself. Now, I feel that there’ve been a lot of failures in my life – both in personal and social life. I try hard to please people, I try to give my best in a relationship, but what I get is disappointment and dejection.

So, I don’t know how much I can recover myself, because after every time I fail, it weakens me, internally. Even if I try to stand up once again and work more, I don’t have the same spirit. So, I want to know how to tackle this issue? What approach should I take in my life to overcome these failures and succeed - both in personal and social life.

Acharya Prashant (AP): You don’t need an approach to deal with failure, you need reality. You see, you wanted to do something. If you wanted to do something, there must have been a reason, or are you just randomly pushing yourself into something? That doesn’t happen, right? If you don’t do that thing, if you don’t attempt doing that thing, you suffer. That’s the reason why you are doing that thing.

What you’re attempting is important, that’s why you are attempting it. If you don’t attempt it, you won’t feel good. If you don’t attempt it, there would be a hollow within. So, that’s your situation when you start. I’m suffering that’s why I’m acting.

Now, when you act to relieve your suffering, you push yourself into the action to relieve your suffering. The action demands a price to be paid. And the price to be paid includes failures - failures in terms of results. You wanted to do that thing a particular way, you wanted your project to take a certain form, but it doesn’t take that form; so you suffer.

Now, the question is which suffering is bigger? You’ve to remember that. It’s a relative situation. If you look at only one suffering, it’ll appear too big. Do you get which two sufferings we’re trying to compare?

The suffering that, first of all, impelled you to do what you’re doing, to pick up the project. So, there’s a suffering that pushes you to pick up that project. If you don’t pick up that project, you’ll suffer even more. But when you do pick up that project, that project brings in its own wake, suffering of its own kind. Now, this suffering starts appearing very big sometimes. It starts appearing big, because you tend to forget the mother suffering that, firstly, pushed you into this project. If failure is so very painful to you, then don’t act at all.

Any project that you pick up, if it’s worthy enough, it carries a significant risk of failure. And the risk of failure looms large irrespective of how worthy the project is. In fact, it’s possible that more worthy projects carry a higher risk of failure. And if failure pinches you too much, then I’m saying, “Don’t act at all.”

Why act at all? Because failure carries a large probability of happening. You know in advance that there is a ninety percent chance of failure, and failure hurts, so why act at all? But you’ll act, why? Because what you’re doing is important. If you don’t do that, then that not doing, that inaction, will hurt you even more. We forget that, we forget the mother suffering. So, the subsequent disappointments that come our way start appearing too big. “Oh, I did this, and in the process of doing this, I am meeting with so much resistance, and it takes so much effort; I’m tired. And people are saying that I’ve invested two years into it, and nothing is coming out of it.”

If it’s all so bad, just drop it and don’t do it. We forget why the thing we’re doing deserves to be done in the first place; the mother reality we forget. That’s why I’m saying, you don’t need methods to cope with your pain, you just need a dose of reality. I understand that failure hurts, hurts all of us. But how deeply would it hurt to not act at all? You tell me that.

Q: If I would not try, I would be hurt more.

AP: Exactly. So, if you’ve to choose between these two sufferings, choose the lesser suffering.

Is not acting an option at all? Is not trying an option ever?

When you start something, you very well know that there is a huge chance of failure. Irrespective of that, you start off. Don’t start thinking that success is your birth right or something. And do not be taken in by the sellers of pleasure who tell you that suffering is optional, or needless, or whatever.

Suffering is a fact of life. The best you can do is choose the better suffering. Choose a higher suffering. I’m not saying ‘bigger’ suffering, I’m saying the ‘higher’ suffering. Suffer you must because you’re alive; suffer rightly.

If there’s a cause worth dedicating yourself to, plunge into it; give yourself to it. And when you do these things, a lot of circumstantial forces will strike you. When you proceed in the right direction, you’ll meet headwinds. There will arise a feeling within, “Why am I doing all this? Why must I needlessly invite so much trouble?” Then the way is to remind yourself that the trouble you’re facing is not needless. And if at times, the inner clamour grows too loud, then say, “Alright, if this seems too much to take, then I’m resigning, I quit”. And then see.

Q: I cannot quit.

AP: You cannot quit, that’s the thing. Irrespective of how bad it is to continue, you still cannot quit. That’s why pick only the right things in life. When you pick the right things in life, then you stay put even if the road goes bad, even if the going becomes quite difficult. Because you know in the first place, and you can remember very well, what made you start off.

Always have a solid reason to start off. Don’t randomly throw yourself in any direction. And never, never expect a trouble free life. I’m guaranteeing you in advance. If the cause is worth it, then troubles will be plenty. In fact, chances are if you pick up something very trivial, something quite worthless, then you’ll have a relatively trouble-free life. Is that what you want as a young man?

Q: No sir, I want my ambitions to come true.

AP: Great! First of all, pick your ambitions wisely. Know very well, why the things that you want deserve to be wanted. Be very choosy and very discreet in deciding your goals. Most of the things that tempt us and attract us don’t really deserve to be pursued. So, be extremely wise, extremely mature, and very patient in knowing what deserves your attention and your perusal.

And, as you gain in clarity, as you zero in on your goals, you’ll find that you are now imbued with an inner inspiration that cares for no obstacles; because that inspiration is coming from a deep clarity - a clarity that will be prepared to accept all sufferings along the way.

Only when your goal is not coming from your heart, will the sufferings along the path become too much to take. You start complaining, you become fidgety, you become nervous, and you drop out. I’m not saying dropping out is a bad thing; if you’ve picked up an unworthy goal due to some mistake, it’s a wise thing to drop out.

So, pick your goals with caution. If you’ve picked them rightly and if you’re still facing suffering, remind yourself of the mother suffering. Remind yourself of the kind of suffering that, first of all, made you pick that goal. And remind yourself of what happens if you’re not loyal to the goal you’ve picked up.

Am I being somewhat clear?

Q: Yes sir, you’re almost clear.

AP: Thank you.

Q: Sir, I would like to ask a follow up question. Sometimes, in our social or personal life, despite putting our best efforts into relationships – with parents, relatives, or friends – we don’t find that it’s reciprocated or acknowledged. How to deal with that?

AP: Why must you do anything? Go to the fundamentals always. You do something because it is important to your inner state. Otherwise, why must anybody do anything?

You help someone because that fellow deserves to be helped. You display respect to someone because the fellow deserves respect. You put something into a relationship, because the relationship is worth it. And relationship is worth it only if it nourishes the people in it.

So, ask yourself the fundamental question: Is the relationship nourishing both of us - the other person and me? You said, “I am putting a lot into the relationship”. (16:03)Why are you putting so much effort?

Q: For support from my family and relatives to achieve my goals and dreams.

AP: Your goals are your goals. As a young person, why do you want ratification or support from others? If that support comes, great; it’s a bonus. But I don’t suppose, at your age, others can have a great role towards energizing you in your journey.

In fact, you might discover at some point, that it’s a worthy project to help the people around you, and help them by correcting them. And when you try to correct them, they will offer resistance. Now in this project, where they will face inconvenience because you’re trying to correct them, would you still expect them to support you?

Q: No.

AP: That’s right. Worthy projects can run only on innate inspiration. I do realize that being creatures of flesh and blood, we all are affected by what others are saying and doing. We are motivated by others support, and lack of support makes us feel lonely - those things happen. But those things have to be kept to a limit. Otherwise, life will be an exercise in helplessness; you don’t want that.

Q: Thank you sir. That was very valuable advice. I’m motivated, and don’t want to think of giving up. Thank you so much.

AP: Thank you!

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