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Does a ‘Failed’ or ‘Unsuccessful’ Psychedelic Experience Exist?

Can we truly discern success or failure when delving into the intricacies of psychedelic experiences? How do we genuinely evaluate and extract meaning from our journeys without imposing judgments of “good” or “bad”?

This topic transcends any one simple explanation, necessitating a deeper, tailored understanding of our own unique definitions of “success” and “failure,” especially when it comes to mental health concerns.

We argue that all experiences are brushstrokes on the canvas of self-discovery, and therefore, conventional notions of triumph and defeat can dissolve in the psychedelic landscape.

In this article, we confront important questions about what constitutes a good or bad trip, the importance of maintaining a healthy relationship with our expectations, and how to move beyond the ego and egoic thinking.

By embracing the unpredictable ebb and flow, we discover that surrendering is a profound form of success—a celebration of our capacity to let go and harmonize with the rhythms of the universe.

The Good, The Bad, The Uneventful: Labeling The Psychedelic Trip

In conventional society, success often assumes the guise of accomplishment—a clear-cut goal achieved, a destination reached, the fulfillment of an expectation.

Societal conditioning around this concept of success can imply that to be successful at something hinges on our ability to control it—that we have a firm grip on life’s reigns. 

But it is actually the nature of the psychedelic experience to be outside of the realm of our control, as well as for its events to be highly unexpected, and part of the medicine surely lies in those traits.

In fact, psychedelics teach us that pure magic happens in our lives when we let go and surrender to the beautiful things that life has in store for us when we aren’t vigorously steering ourselves in a particular direction.

And while a degree of preparation, planning, and research has real and incredible impacts on the quality of experience you have while on psychedelics like magic mushrooms or LSD, it isn’t a total requirement. 

Sometimes we are downloaded with wisdom from the source, and there was nothing we could have done to trigger that event outside of just staying open.

Let this be a breath of relief to you in knowing that, ultimately, there is nothing that is required beyond showing up and being open and willing. 

So perhaps it is not failure that we encounter, but rather uncertainty, confusion, overwhelm, disappointment, and vulnerability which are quite a different issue—and are teachers in their own way.

To get to the heart of the question—when it comes to psychedelic experiences, the concept of success can be a slippery slope. What does success really mean in this context? 

Defining success is a subjective endeavor, influenced by our personal perspectives and expectations. Some may see it as the attainment of a specific goal or the accomplishment of a predetermined objective. 

However, it is essential to recognize that these definitions often arise from our desire to exercise control and impose our ego onto an inherently uncontrollable experience.

We approach these experiences with preconceived notions of what should happen, how we should feel, and what insights we should gain. In doing so, we inadvertently place limitations on the limitless potential that psychedelics offer.

Expectations, by their very nature, project us into the future, taking us away from the present moment. This detachment from the now can lead to disappointment and frustration when our past projections collide with the reality of the present. 

We then construct narratives and label the experience as “good” or “bad,” failing to fully embrace the rawness of the moment. 

In truth, all that exists in these psychedelic journeys is the experience itself—a profound encounter with thoughts, emotions, and sensations. 

These aspects transcend the confines of our labels, and while labels can be helpful, they often separate us from the profound reality of the experience.

This is not an effort to dissuade you from setting intentions and preparing yourself. In fact, we have written articles on the importance of those actions. 

We can alter factors such as our mindset, the environment, and the participants involved, but ultimately, the psychedelic medicine will guide us on its unique path, and that realization keeps us in check.

Zooming out from the microcosm of failure, we gain a macro perspective that reveals the interconnectedness of events and the purpose behind them. 

Nothing is a mistake or coincidence; every moment holds the potential for growth and personal insights if we are willing to search for the hidden medicine within.

By reframing our expectations and finding meaning in every encounter, we open ourselves to the profound transformative power of these journeys. 

Success, in this context, transcends the mere accomplishment of goals—it becomes a journey of self-discovery, connection, and profound understanding.

The Brain on Presence: Moving Beyond Judgment & Ego

So, how can we navigate these expectations and redefine success in the context of psychedelics? It starts with a shift in mindset—a surrendering of control and a cultivation of presence. 

By loosening our grip on specific outcomes, we open ourselves to the transformative potential of spontaneity. Approaching the journey with a positive and productive outlook, we embrace what unfolds rather than fixating on what could have been.

Working with a professional facilitator can definitely help you find balance between adequate preparation and over-preparation due to pre-trip anxiety, and you can book a call with us today to find immediate support. 

To transcend this limitation, we must first learn to manage our expectations before embarking on the psychedelic journey

While setting intentions and having desires is natural, leaving ample room for spontaneity and openness to different outcomes can be truly transformative. 

Embracing the present moment in all its uncertainty allows us to be receptive to the profound insights and personal growth that can emerge from the experience.

Secondly, navigating the uncharted waters of psychedelics requires a profound act of surrender. As we let go of the need for control, we open ourselves to the vast mystery of the psychedelic experience. 

Trusting the process, whether it be the universe, a higher power, or our inner selves, enables us to fully immerse in the journey without resistance. 

Embracing the notion that what we see, feel, think, and experience during the trip is precisely what we are meant to encounter, uncovers the medicine that exists in every facet of the experience.

Zooming out from our singular perspective, we begin to grasp a more profound truth—there are no mistakes or coincidences in this cosmic dance. 

If you were underwhelmed or overwhelmed by your experience, had a painful experience or a lackluster one, accepting the event allows you to find the lesson and purpose in it. 

Every experience carries within it valuable lessons and hidden beauty, waiting to be uncovered. Viewing moments that may initially seem like failures as potent learning opportunities opens the door to transformative self-discovery.

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For harm-reduction purposes, we provide links to online psilocybin vendors, local stores, delivery services, and spore vendors for growing your own medicine at home.

What Influences a Psychedelic Experience & How to Accept What Happened

There are a few key things that impact a psychedelic journey: 

  1. Mindset — Are you afraid or nervous? Excited or antsy? In general, are you a happy person? Do you have an intention for the experience? The delicate makeup of your inner world will likely either be magnified or stirred up.
  2. Setting — This is the who, what, where of the journey, and factors like setting, music, company, if you do it in a retreat or solo, as well as what tools are present can make a pretty big difference in how the trip evolves. 
  3. Type & Dosage — We have written past articles on how to dose safely and how to choose which psychedelic is right for you, but of course these factors would have a large impact on the quality of your journey.
  4. Presence of a Guide — This factor can also make or break a therapeutic psychedelic experience, because having a professional help you through all stages of preparation, ceremony, and integration can be the difference between feeling “successful” and “unsuccessful.” We also wrote an article on if a guide is really necessary when taking psychedelic like psilocybin mushrooms.

Can Your Therapeutic Psychedelic Journey be a Failure?

Simply put, no! There is no way to fail at having a psychedelic journey, and we hope to support you along the way to give additional assurance that it will go as desired and planned. 

To summarize the most important thing—you get to decide how you feel about your experience. Even if you feel an initial disappointment, frustration, or fear, you get to decide how to alchemize that pain into pleasure, that poison into medicine, that negative into a positive. 

A reader said, “I’ve recently been on an individual guided weekend with both MDMA, and the following day, LSD. It was very relaxing, few thoughts and a sense of peace. In reflecting on past psychedelic journeys, it felt like a non-event and disappointing. In retrospect, I see it as the reality of the moment. Everything else is simply memory, and my sense of it being a ‘failure’ to go ‘deeper’ has resolved. Since that event I find myself more present in daily life.”

Lastly, sometimes, all we need is time in order to make out what the lesson was. It’s not just about finding the silver lining in the gray clouds, but to also see the beauty in the gray clouds themselves!

Explore How it Feels to be Connected

We at Psychedelic Passage want to offer a reminder that if you are in need of integration work to be able to feel better about the experience you had (or are still looking to get started), please book a consultation call with us today.

Our concierges will get you connected with our network of facilitators in order for you to get the support you need, no matter where you are in your psychedelic process. 

If you are just now looking into having a professionally facilitated journey, our guides are located all over the country and are pre-vetted to ensure that you, the journeyer, are getting optimal support.

For additional articles and information, head on over to our resources page for new and research-driven topics about the vast world of psychedelic medicine. Safe travels!

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Take the first step and book a consultation call with us today. We'll walk you through every step of the process after getting to know you and your unique situation.

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At Psychedelic Passage, we offer professional 1-on-1 guidance and companionship on your journey of healing. We simply can't sit back and let Americans continue to sit in silent suffering trying to battle mental health issues within a broken health care system, all while knowing that effective alternatives exist. We stand for the sacred, at-home, ceremonial use of psychedelics for consciousness exploration, which we believe to be a fundamental human right.


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