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S2 EP136 – Learning from and Celebrating Fall – Inward and Outward

Episode Summary

Sometimes, reaching for the help you need takes bravery and courage because of the fear of rejection and the heartbreak that follows this rejection. And it’s vitally important when asking for help from others or from your spiritual guidance to make sure you are asking from your loving adult rather than from your wounded self.


Hi everyone. Dr. Margaret Paul here with the Inner Bonding podcast. Today I’m talking about both what we can learn from the fall weather, which we now have here in the US, and what we can learn from our own falls – our stumbles, mistakes and failures.

Once again, this topic was suggested by Dr. Erika Chopich, the co-creator of Inner Bonding, so I asked her to speak about this. As some of you already know, Erika is still recovering her voice from the stroke she had in April of this year, which the doctors told her is the result of long COVID, which she had since March of 2020. Listeners have asked why she doesn’t speak on these podcasts, and this is why.

Here is what Erika said about this topic.

“For many people, fall is their favorite time of year. The winding down from summer, the spectacular beauty, and preparing for the restfulness of winter impacts us in such beautiful ways when we embrace the fall.

“But there is also another celebration of fall. When we as individuals stumble and fall, there is also a celebration and a rebirth that can happen. Sometimes people look at their own stumble and turn away, or deny it, or make an excuse for it, rather than move deeper into it to celebrate the metamorphosis that it can bring. Each stumble, each fall, can push us one step closer to the light, to enlightenment, to peace. It’s a matter of perspective. We celebrate the beautiful changing of the leaves, and we celebrate the movement forward, but yet this time of year is also about the passing of the vitality of summer. In some ways it is a small death in nature that we trust will be born again into something equally or more beautiful in the spring.

“When it comes to our own journey, when we stumble and we fall, we perceive it so often as a step backwards rather than a movement towards a new spring and a rebirth.

“I see all of my stumbles, all of my falls, as a God wink nudging me ever closer to truth and to peace. That is also what happens this time of year. As the leaves fall, so do they also shed their seeds and plant new life, and this is also a God wink and a promise of ongoing life and love. Even in the dying of fall there’s much anticipation for the aliveness to follow. We look forward to the holidays. We look forward to the invigorating beautiful white snow days, and we enjoy the cool evenings of fall instead of the blistering heat of summer. Everything is a movement forward, whether it’s our own personal fall or the most beautiful time of year – fall.

“Did you ever notice that if you peek under a large red leaf from fall you very often will find the seed? It’s the same thing with us. If we are just curious enough to look at what is under our stumble and our fall, we find a piece of light and knowledge and an awareness that helps us to move forward.

“So often I encounter people who are ashamed of their stumble or so discouraged by their own fall that they fail to see the beautiful bright seedling underneath the fall that is, in fact, an arrow pointing the way to bigger growth. Judging yourself for a stumble or a fall in your path would be like judging the beautiful colors in this time of year. It makes no sense. Your wounded self would love nothing more than to make you feel bad in the stumble and your wounded self would also like you to not appreciate the beauty of this time of year. Nothing is negative in the fall. It’s all beautiful.

“This is the time of year I watch my horses shed the dying hairs of summer and grow beautiful soft luxurious coats that will wrap them in warmth all winter long. It is a metamorphosis of nature that not only effects every animal and every plant, but it affects us as well. It’s a time when we seek out comfort and prepare ourselves to face the coldness of winter wrapped in the warmth of truth and love and connection. But this beautiful transformation can only happen if it is free of judgment. My horses delight in the cooler temperatures and become more alive in the fall because they sense the change, and they experience it also as a growth time. We can learn from that. We can learn from them.

“I know with some certainty that your stumble and your fall is not a mistake or a failure but a gift. There’s something wondrous for you to look under and to see the seedling of peace and love that is there for you.”

Erika is a wonderful role model of learning from her falls. I’ve never seen her give up, no matter what, and she is constantly learning and evolving.

As Erika said, judging yourself will keep you from learning from your mistakes and failures.

Something magical happens when we are open to learning from our mistakes and failures and are compassionate toward ourselves for being human. Humans make mistakes. Humans fail. Self-judgment keeps us stuck while self-compassion opens the door to learn and move forward.

We hear a lot about how important it is to be compassionate toward others, and it is very important. But are you compassionate toward yourself? Do you feel at least as much compassion for yourself as you do for others and even for animals?

In the many years that I’ve been facilitating Inner Bonding, I’ve discovered that the most common underlying cause of anxiety, depression, addictive behavior, relationship problems, procrastination, and being stuck in life is self-judgment.

The most prevalent self-judgment is “I’m not good enough.”

There are many variations to this core shame false belief:

“I’m not lovable.”
“I’m unworthy.”
“I’m flawed.”
“I’m not important.”
“I’m bad.”
“I’m a failure.”
“I’m stupid.”
“I’m not okay.”
“I’m not enough.”

However you phrase it, it is saying the same thing. It is a profound judgment against who you really are – your beautiful essence. And it is the opposite of self-compassion.

The moment we judge ourselves, we are telling ourselves that we have no good reasons for our mistakes and failures – that we are just not good enough. Yet, as Erika said, when we fall, we have an incredible opportunity to learn, grow, and move forward. Self-judgment stops us and self-compassion, along with our intent to learn, propels us forward into new learning and new opportunities.

Since people tend to treat us the way we treat ourselves, the more you judge yourself for your mistakes, the more others might also judge you.

What is your first response when someone judges you and blames you for a mistake?

Do you judge yourself or judge the other person, or both? What happens when you judge yourself or the other person? The chances are that the interaction goes nowhere, and you are left feel awful for your mistake.

What would happen if, when someone blames and judges you for a mistake, you opened to compassion for your feelings of both making the mistake and being blamed and judged for it?

Let’s take an example of how different an interaction would be with self-compassion rather than self-judgment. In the following interaction, John attacks Mary for having made a mistake in their checking account and being over-drawn. In the first example, Mary goes into self-judgment. In the second example, Mary goes into self-compassion.

“Mary,” yelled John, “we are overdrawn in our account again because you forgot to enter some of the checks. What is the matter with you? Are you stupid?”

Mary immediately judged herself, thinking, “I’m stupid, I can never do anything right,” and she then defended herself and attacked John, saying, “I just forgot. What’s the big deal? I’ve been too busy taking care of your stuff. If you would do more around the house, I wouldn’t forget things like that.” Mary abandoned herself with her self-judgments, and then yelled at John from her wounded self.

Of course, John and Mary end up in a fight.

But here is what might happen if Mary is compassionate with herself for her mistake and for how John is treating her, instead of judging herself and then judging John. In response to John’s attack, Mary first turns inward to how badly it feels to be attacked by John. She has compassion for her own feelings of sadness and loneliness at being attacked by someone whose love is important to her. Then, she brings compassion to herself for her mistake, and she says to John, “John, this feels awful inside. My stomach hurts when you attack me like this. I’m willing to talk with you about the checkbook and the mistakes I made, but not when you are attacking me. Please let me know when you are ready to talk with me about this without judging me.”

Because Mary moved into compassion for her own feelings, she was able to respond to John in a way that was loving to herself and to him.

Moving out of self-judgment and into self-compassion takes much Inner Bonding practice, especially when we make mistakes or fail. Most of us have been practicing self-judgment for so long that it has become our automatic way of being. It takes much consciousness to move into self-compassion but with practice you can move out of abandoning yourself and into being loving to yourself.

It’s important to understand that self-compassion is not a feeling we generate ourselves. Compassion is a gift of spirit. When we are open to learning with our higher guidance, we are able to access that compassion that is spirit, along with the love, peace, and joy that are spirit.

Do you judge yourself for past mistakes? This is guaranteed to keep you stuck not learning from your mistakes and moving forward.

Brianna asked me in Inner Bonding Village:

“I am having a difficult time forgiving myself of past mistakes and it feels like it haunts me every morning and I get bogged down in swirling thoughts which only holds me back from focusing on what I want to do. I know this is my responsibility, but I am truly struggling with focusing on the things I’m grateful for, my strengths, and the good things I have done. I didn’t even know any better than to make the choices that I made, and I can’t seem to forgive myself and let it go, even though I know I only did the best that I could and wouldn’t even judge anybody else for those mistakes. I stayed in a relationship too long and now I’m really hurting…I would have let this man go long before if I knew now what I have subsequently read about men and relationships but I kept on trying to make it work for two years and I still feel terrible that I couldn’t figure out how to make him love me….and I know that I need to learn how to love me better before anyone else could ever love me.”

The questions for Brianna to ask herself are, “What am I trying to control by judging myself for my past choices?” and “What am I trying to avoid feeling right now by judging myself for the past?”

Focusing on past mistakes and judging yourself for them is an addictive process that your ego wounded self has learned to do to avoid present feelings and to attempt to have control over not making the same mistakes again. However, judging yourself doesn’t lead to any new learning – it just keeps you stuck.

I would ask Brianna, “What do you need to learn from the choices you made? There are good reasons you made those choices – your fears and beliefs – and this is what needs exploring.

“If you weren’t judging yourself for the past, what would you be feeling right now? Lonely? Heartbroken? Helpless over your ex-partner? These are all hard feelings to feel, and the ruminating and judging yourself about the past are ways to avoid feeling these core painful feelings.”

When we lovingly and compassionately embrace our painful feelings and allow them to move through us, then we can learn what we need to learn from our stumbles and falls and move on – whether it’s about a relationship, our work, our friendships, or a checkbook mistake. When you judge yourself rather than compassionately embrace your feelings, you keep them stuck in your body, which can keep you stuck in your life.

Our ego wounded self loves to avoid the present by focusing on the past or the future. Yet it is only by being present that we can feel and compassionately manage and learn from our feelings and from our stumbles and falls – our mistakes and failures.

Our challenge is to treat ourselves in such as way that we end up succeeding as a result of our mistakes and failures. Listen to what Michael Jordan, Former Professional Basketball Player and Entrepreneur said:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

How did failure get such a bad name? When did it become something to avoid rather than something to learn from? If you fear failure, did this come mostly from your parents or other caregivers, or mostly from your school experience, or both?

I guess I was lucky that my parents didn’t care how I did in school. I don’t ever remember the word ‘failure’ being used as I was growing up. It wasn’t a concept that I even thought about. My view was that I would keep trying to do something until I became good at it.

I remember that I wanted to get good at free throws. We had a basketball hoop in our back yard; I would spend hours practicing free throws and I finally got really good at it. I can’t remember how many I could do in a row, but it was a lot. It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t succeed at getting good at it – with enough practice. I did this with many things in my life, and I was able to get good at many things. It didn’t matter to me how long it took – what mattered was that each time I ‘failed’ or made a ‘mistake’, I learned. I didn’t even see it as a failure or as a mistake when I missed a shot – it was just a learning experience.

Looking back, this was such a blessing for me. When I read one of my favorite books, “Mindset” by Carol Dweck, I realized what a blessing this part of my childhood really is. People who fear failure have what she calls a ‘fixed mindset.’ This means that they are so afraid of failure that they never even make the effort to try. If you are stuck in your life, you might be stuck in a fixed mindset, being too afraid to make the effort required to succeed, because you have such a judgment on stumbling and falling. You might be operating from a belief system that if you can’t do something well right away, people will judge you as stupid. This fear may be keeping you stuck.

People who don’t worry about failure have what Dr. Dweck calls a ‘growth mindset.’ This means that they receive great joy in making effort toward what they want and don’t even think about the outcome.

This has been my experience. I don’t think much about the outcome, and I receive great joy in the effort. I’ve found, like Michael Jordan, that I’ve succeeded due to learning from my many stumbles, falls, mistakes, and failures, but I actually never even saw them as failures. They were just learning experiences.

If you are stuck in your life, I encourage you to let go of focusing on the outcome and instead focus on the joy of making effort, and the joy of learning from your falls just as you can receive joy from our fall season. When you focus on the effort, then you can receive great joy in the process of learning something.

I remember when I was about eight years old, and someone gave me a gift of a pogo stick. I decided I wanted to get really good at it and I had so much fun practicing it over and over. I have no idea how long it took me to get good at it because time wasn’t important to me, but eventually I could ride that pogo stick forever without falling. But I had to be willing to fall over and over to reach that goal.

If you are willing to stumble or fall or make mistakes or fail over and over, you will eventually get where you want to go!

I hope you join me for my 30-Day at-home Course: Unlocking Your Inner Wisdom, to learn how to connect with your spiritual guidance and access the love, wisdom, and compassion to learn from your falls.

You can learn so much about Inner Bonding from my recent books:

Diet for Divine Connection: Beyond Junk Foods and Junk Thoughts to At-Will Spiritual Connection

The Inner Bonding Workbook: Six Steps to Healing Yourself and Connecting With Your Divine Guidance

6 Steps to Total Self-Healing: The Inner Bonding Process

And, How to Become Strong Enough to Love: Creating Loving Relationships Through the Six-Step Pathway of Inner Bonding

And we have much to offer you at our website at

I’m sending you my love and my blessings.

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