M7U2: Failure (print)

Thoughtful Lives | Module 7 | Unit 2


Objective: To explore your feelings and the ramifications of your experiences of Failure
Est. Time: One hour and 20 minutes


Audio Instructions



Remember that everything here is private. You will never be required to share this with anyone. The objective of the work here is for you to allow yourself to explore your emotions and personal experience in a non-judging way. Neither good nor bad — these emotions and experiences simply are.

Reading for this Unit

(Included in Action Step, below. Read after doing the first part of the Action Step.) — “When a Child Kills,” by Gregory Orr (8/29/2014) in the New York Times SundayReview 

Action Step

Thoughtful Lives | Module 7 | Unit 2 — ACTION STEP —

Instructions for Unit 2 Action Step

  1. Make a couple of lists.
    • List 5 disappointments you’ve experienced in your life.
    • List 5 things you fear.
  2. Circle one item from each list. Freewrite on each of those selected items. (3-5 minutes each)
  3. Write a rant about a time you followed all the rules and things didn’t work out. Get really angry on paper. Rant! (5 minutes)
  4. Look again at the lists you made in Step 1, above. Identify anything on the list that is due primarily to your own actions and choices. Place a check mark √ next to those items.
  5. Now, freewrite on one of the unchecked items, on something that is not due to your actions or choices, something that disappointed you or something that you fear which is not your fault. (If nothing on your lists qualify, then add to the lists!)
  6. Describe how it feels to be the “victim” of something you did not choose and did not cause. Write for (at least) 5 minutes, focusing on the sensations and thoughts you have experienced when you knew yourself to be a victim. Important: Do not try to solve these feelings or “figure things out.” Just feel what you feel, honestly. Yell or cry or whatever you feel–scribble it onto the page. Let yourself feel what you feel.
  7. Read the following article:
    “When a Child Kills,” by Gregory Orr (8/29/2014) in the New York Times SundayReview 
  8. Freewrite (5 min.) about the idea—the experience—of an accident. This may be a horrible accident that you have experienced yourself. It may be an accident that happened to someone you love. Or, it may be the idea of such an accident, some morbid fantasy of an accident.
  9. Freewrite for 3-5 minutes on the topic: “Crisis Management: When Finding Fault Is Not the First Priority.”


Let “F” stand for Failure. When Desire (D) fails. Or when Actions (A) fail. Or when Practiced (P) discipline or Maintenance (M) fails.

Imagine writing an essay entitled “What Failure Feels Like.” Draft some notes, an outline, or arc for an essay by that title. See if you can imagine what your essay on that topic might be. Can you make the reader feel what you describe? Can you use all five senses in describing that feeling, that experience?

In short, make notes for yourself towards writing such an essay, with the goal being to usher the reader of your essay into the experience, the sensation of Failure (F).

Action Step

Available Downloads

Audio File of M7U2: Failure (right-click to download)

Transcript of M7U2: (tbd)


Creative Commons License Thoughtful Lives: A Whole Person Encounter with the Apostle Paul by Virginia Wiles is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at GoodWayLearning.com.