Four Suggestions to Avoid Feelings of Failure When Your Party’s Over

When the party’s over, IS it over? In a good way?

Or do you have a dark notion that something wasn’t quite right with the event?

Do you ever have the odd, empty feeling after a special occasion or project you orchestrated is completed?

Unexplainable feelings of failure, even when on the surface everything seemed okay?

Bright pink balloons floated above the guests and hundreds of tiny white lights trailed from the ceiling. Merianne’s decorations for the surprise 40th birthday party for her friend, Dana, sang with style and color.

Anyone would agree Merianne’s home appeared immaculate, festive and stunning.

Guests dined on garlic roasted shrimp cocktails and sweet figs stuffed with creamy ricotta cheese, topped with honey and pistachio nuts, and sipped on a fine pinot gris, 2006 J Russian River.

“Merianne, this is incredible of you! I’m so touched. What a total surprise,” said Dana, the honoree.

Then why, for days afterward, did Merianne feel plagued with something more than just the expected “let down” after the perfect party to honor her friend? Merianne second-guessed everything about the party: food choices, decorations, the guest list, and she agonized over if Dana had truly been surprised, or maybe just faked it.

And that’s why everything you do has some weird failure in it. – Kabir (version by Robert Bly)

These weird feelings of failure may show up after other personal endeavors besides throwing a party: taking a trip, a phone conversation, giving a gift, coffee with a friend, an art performance of some kind, weddings and funerals. What makes the feeling seem weird is that there may be no obvious reason for it. Nothing you can distinctly put your finger on that went wrong.

The last line in the Sufi poet, Kabir’s poem haunted me for three decades after I first heard Robert Bly in person read the his translation of the poem. Even though I didn’t understand the concept completely back then, I sensed some truth in it. (Complete poem at end of post.) I knew I’d experienced the feelings myself  when I’d put myself out there to accomplish a task or extend an act of generosity to someone.

The important question is how do we come away from the conclusion of any personal endeavor with a warm feeling of success rather than an obscure sense of having gotten it wrong?

Four suggestions to head off a feeling of failure when the party’s over:

1. Avoid attachment to the outcome.

2. Let go of the addiction to perfection.

3. Stay fully present before and during the activity, but let it go afterwards.

4. Remain connected throughout to the authentic spirit of the heart regarding why you are engaged in the activity in the first place.

As I’ve said countless times, my blog posts often parallel what is going on with me personally. As life would have it, a week after I began this post, I was asked to host a family brunch for my son who is moving to China. I’ll get back to you on how it all went and if, when the gathering is over, I felt that natural high from success or some weird feeling of failure. Party on….

I talk to my inner lover, and I say, why such rush? 
We sense that there is some sort of spirit that loves birds and animals and the ants–
   perhaps the same one who gave a radiance to you in your mother’s womb.
Is it logical you would be walking around entirely orphaned now?
The truth is you turned away yourself, and decided to go into the dark alone.
Now you are tangled up in others, and have forgotten what you once knew,
   and that’s why everything you do has some weird failure in it. – Kabir


  1. I love this poem. I heard it a a yoga class you were teaching. It’s haunting and yet somehow seems so true.
    Maybe it has to do with being afraid to believe we are enough, unconditionally, and needing affirmation
    from the outside. I hadn’t thought of this poem for a long time…thanks for bringing it to my attention again!

    • Heather says:

      Rachel! You are right!

      This Kabir poem goes much deeper than just throwing a party. Feelings of failure haunt us much more than is necessary! I am grateful you remember this from one of my teachings from years back. That makes me happy to know! Love.

  2. Lovely post! And timely for me as well.
    Thank you!

  3. There seems to be a “timeliness” to your posts when my spirit is open and ready to listen. This one resonated with me, as well. I’m always the party-giver in our family and sometimes I experience a bit of a let down afterwards. Less so, over the years. But this is about much more than that and I thank you for cracking open my heart and shining your light inside.

    • Heather says:

      Lori! I’ve been to a few of your gatherings and know you are the ultimate when it comes to creating ambiance and a friendly atmosphere for your guests. I think one can be totally frazzled after entertaining and still have that little sweet feeling of success within. And you’re right, the post has deeper meaning for us than just throwing a swell party. Everything we do…. Thanks!

  4. Pat Kriso says:

    I too am involved in my daughter’s wedding; first the shower and then the wedding. I am the ‘decorator’. I don’t usually have a wierd feeling of failure from this. I do relate to it though when the party is at my house and I have ‘gone all out’ and everyone seemed to enjoy it–I often feel a sadness once it is over. Per the poem, we make decisions to strike out on our own having only to please ourself. But when we involve ourself in other peoples lives–we lose control. We don’t really know how they see us or how they feel.

    • Heather says:

      Beautifully stated, Pat! Thanks! When we worry too much about what others think of us, we disconnect from our own accepting spirit of the heart. The wedding date is coming up fast. I’ll need you to send a photo of all of you on that special day on the beach. 🙂

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