La Coop P.A.- General and Forensic Psychiatry - Boutique-Private Psychiatric and Forensic Practice in Tampa-Clearwater-Florida


September, 2012 - You can't achieve success without failure.


Each day I see patients I learn...

This newsletter topic comes from a young male patient I see in treatment with many talents. However, he has a fear of failure. One thing that he has that has helped is that he has insight (knowledge that he has a problem and that it causes him distress) into this problem which is why he's seeing me. However, just because he has insight doesn't mean that he changes his behaviors that are ultimately self defeating. Many people do this which is why I thought this would be a good newsletter topic.

I have failed so many times and continue to do so. However, I would not have the opportunity to fail if I didn't put myself out there. Because I have failed, I have learned lessons (some harder than others). One can be taught only so much in the classroom and the rest is from experience. Experience comes in many forms: a mentor teaching, a parenting parenting, sticking your neck out, a doctor doctoring, etc.

Today I am writing about participating in life as the classroom.

Dr. L

"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

This proverb has been traced back to 'Teacher's Manual' (1840) by American educator Thomas H. Palmer. I remember the first time I heard it when I was a child in school - about 5th grade. It is something that really stuck with me. It gave me hope that other people have failed as I had, and that if I just work hard - I will be able to overcome any problem.

It seems like today, people don't want to work. They want it handed to them because it's not easy to work and if someone will give it to them without working - all the better! I see this a lot with my inmates and spoiled children (going up into the 20s).

All people want to be winners (let's be REAL). They want to be successful (everyone has their definition of what that is). However, some people want all of the good of going out there and taking the punches without getting a few bruises. It only works like that for a VERY FEW of us. Most of us have to gain stamina in order to get through the marathon of life. The way that we develop stamina in life is to seek out potential opportunities no matter where they are and take them. Another part of building the stamina is to go down the path of resistance. That is typically the one that is right. Nothing worth having has come easily to me and I think that it's because I know what is right and I know what is easier and they usually don't co-exist.

Now, going back to the example of my patient. He's a young male, working at a job to make some pocket money while he lives with his parents. He has a tremendous talent in art and does everything from photography to sculpture (I actually have one of his sculptures in my office!). There was one point where he went to school for a short while. He dated a girl for a short while that broke his heart as well. Now, he's depressed and a lot of the reason for that (aside from biological) is because he's not where he thought he would be at his age given his known talents. There is also a substance abuse component in there as well.

We came to a breakthrough in his last visit (which he always starts by saying that he doesn't think he should come back because he's not doing what I tell him to do) where the fear of the responsibility of success came up. Additionally, this concept of not trying for fear of failure in his mind - even if he is the only one that recognized the failure. If you don't try you can't say that you failed. You just say I never tried.

In that last visit, we talked about re framing the thoughts in his mind from, "I won't do it unless I'm sure I will do it well," to "At least I'm trying - even though it may not be perfect."

How do you translate this into your own life?

  • Most of the patients I see have dreams that they have yet to realize. I'd like you to investigate those in your own mind, or better yet write them down.
  • Go through the dreams/goals step by step to see which ones are still relevant.
  • Once you have the list of viable dreams - do some research to find out what you would need to do to make that happen.
  • Carve out time in your schedule at least weekly to make one step toward that goal no matter how small.
  • If you need help with the list or the steps - we can talk about that in session!

BOTTOM LINE - Keep trying! Not only will your life be more exciting, it will also be more fulfilled. By simply knowing that you are making steps toward doing something you have always dreamed of you are bettering your mood.

Keep in mind - If I didn't do this same exercise I would not be a doctor, I would not be a wife, I would not have paid off my student loans, I would not be an active artist, etc.

Until next month!

Dr. L

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