For some years now, thanks to the self-help literature, we have the impression that starting over is the first step after failure. But this is a slightly distorted perception. Self-help literature has the social function of helping to rewrite difficult situations so that they become more acceptable or manageable. That is to say, she tries to standardize the complicated events of life by showing how much they are part of life itself.
On the other hand, the language of coaching and professionals who give advice on life uses this expression “start over” a lot. Also, as in self-help, this restart is associated with failure prior to the process of restarting. Therefore, for both, the restart is not a routine event, but something that succeeds defeat, failure.
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When we look at it from the point of view of psychology, the restart is not and could not be linked to the sequence of a negative event. Almost as opposed to the cheaper and more commercial views, psychology understands the new beginning as an inherent and constant part of living and growing. For psychology, a new beginning is present in life as day and night are.
Therefore, living is an eternal start over. In fact, two very simple examples of this idea are breathing and day. These two cyclical events are repeated in an eternal restart, at the same time that they are the strongest connection we have with the very feeling of existing. The breath that is repeated every two or three seconds, restarting its process, either exhaling or breathing in the air of life. And the days marking our time in life.
The funny thing is that you can choose which one would be the restart in your point of view. Does breathing resume after inhalation or after exhalation?
The same goes for the eternal relay between waking and sleeping. With each awakening, we have a new beginning, or with each evening we have a new beginning, since, in chronological terms, the day begins in the middle of the night.
As in these two examples, psychology applies the notion of a new beginning to all activities of life. We start over all the time. As I write, I start over words, phrases, paragraphs, texts, and none of those starts is preceded by defeat or failure. Starting over is part of the life cycle.
In fact, for psychology, the notion of failure seems to be very short-lived and almost nonexistent. This idea of failure or even defeat technically does not exist. We have concepts of grief and loss. But defeat and failure are concepts imported from specific areas and used widely in self-help and coaching literature.
Defeat comes from the idea of combat, whether in sport or in battle. It comes from a notion of physical competition, where the best in the match is seen as the winner and the worst is the loser.
In psychology, this notion is not applicable. Life is long and its design, its path is not known. Therefore, it is dynamic, open, and insecure. Life is not a competition, and this notion of competition and defeat, imported from Rome and ancient Greece, is exactly what creates selfishness. Life is a process and its end is the extinction of existence. Therefore, there is no end, a finish line that allows saying who arrived first, better or faster.
Based on this idea that whoever is at a disadvantage is defeated, we run away or act as if we do not depend on full-time collaboration. Thus, we become people who appropriate, steal, kill to win. We do everything to win a competition that does not exist in reality, we run to win a competition that is created by social friction between those who aspire and those who were distracted living and enjoying.
The idea of failure, on the other hand, comes from the concept of “weak”. Failure is the achievement achieved by the weak, it is what the weak achieve. Driven by their weakness, they are unable to achieve what they set out to do and therefore build their failures. But this is not necessarily a bad situation, as the point from which the situation is assessed is what determines what failure is, which is not enough in order to fail, you need to know what success would be.
Having this parameter of success in mind, not having strength, or being too weak to achieve that success, creates failure. So, failure would be any step between nothing and a few steps before success. Success would be to achieve the whole. Anything that was built out of that success would be a failure.
“We sold 80% of the target, we did not achieve the expected success, the manager was fired for his failure, despite reasonable results”.
This means that all that 80% is a failure, while 20% that would represent the exit from 99% to 100% would be a success. And the crazy thing is that we take this very seriously in life. Quite. Getting 2nd is like failing.
This relationship between success and failure is so tenuous, it is so relative, it is so individual that I have seen students “grade 10” sad for taking 10 in the test because he has written in the test in an ugly hand. On the other hand, I saw people having Homeric losses in their lives and considering themselves to be great winners.
Thus, it is absolutely clear how starting over is not a process linked to defeat or failure. On the contrary, with every sale made by our manager’s team, negotiations with customers resumed. In each question of the test “grade 10”, there was a resumption of answers, reasoning, etc. Life is an eternal restart.
This eternal restart, so well represented by the day, can also be seen clearly in the seasons, in the passing of generations in a family. None of this linked to defeat or failure.
Of course, plants lose their leaves, animals exchange hair, light suppresses darkness. There is a balance between loss and restart. More than that, there is a relationship between an end and a new beginning. This relationship is not watertight nor is it clearly delimited. The ending process (which can bring grief and loss) is always a process that ends very early in the process of restarting.
On the other hand, the process of starting over begins within the process of ending. The idea of the resurgence of creative capacity coming out of the destructive process itself is the best portrait. This is not cheap philosophy, however, it may sound like that. But it is a principle that can even be found in Chinese Tao, Buddhism, and other oriental philosophies.
In Christianity, a little imbued with the idea of an end of the world, of an apocalypse, we do not see this mixture of end and restart. But also by counting time from a zero point linked to the relationship of loss and betrayal with the creator, we ended up trying to separate the end of his resurgence and vice versa. We build watertight notions.
This notion that everything has its drawer, therefore, clear, organizable, suitable, and adjustable limits, may be useful for material things, socks, shirts, cutlery. But when we think about the dynamics of life processes, there is no point where an end ends and a new beginning begins. Both are merged into a continuous and indissoluble amalgam.
The end of a marriage, of a relationship is a long one. It may be that the departure of one of the lovers of the house they shared is a remarkable thing, and is seen as the end. But the relationship did not end there. It has been deteriorating for days, maybe months, maybe years. And during this process of deterioration, during this process of ending, the ideals of restarting single life (o), seen in a negative or positive way were already present.
On the other hand, leaving home, felt like the end, is not yet the end, just as it was not the beginning. Negotiations, rearrangements, vessels, discs and CDs are still going and will return for a while in this stage where the restart is already more intense than the end.
Another simple and very common example of this amalgamation between end and restart is the exchange of jobs. The end and the restart start together, in the same feeling, in the dissatisfaction with the place or with the work. They start glued together. They start when it is no longer possible to stay in the same place.
As in marriage, things have reached a certain point where it is no longer possible to stay in the same place. It is necessary to change. It is necessary that this employment contract ends and a new one starts again.
So, during the end process, the restart is already there. Nobody resigns without looking or thinking, planning something new. During, or perhaps before, the search for a new job begins. And, after work begins on the new company, some calls will still be made, some actions in the labor court will still be carried out.
The end and the restart are an amalgam that is nowhere near defeat and failure. They may experience loss and mourning as in these two examples, but they do not experience defeat and failure.
No couple remains married just to win the race that those who stay married the longest without love. Nobody spends a life at work if there is no vision present. But, at the end of these relationships and at the resumption of new relationships, the losses and mourning of fantasies, dreams, expectations, and status are present. But this is not a rule of restart.
Not every new beginning implies grief or loss. But it always implies change or transformation.