It is often said that failure is necessary ingredient for success. However, when we experience failure, it can bring up all sorts of negative emotions.
Whenever we have a significant emotional event that results in failure, it can:
- Affect our identify and self-esteem.
- Cause us pain, shame, embarrassment and humiliation.
- Make us question our ability to achieve what we want in life.
- Cause us to avoid taking risks again or even quit on our dreams.
It’s important to be able to adequately process an experience we deem as “failure” because it will have an impact on what we are willing or not willing to do in the future.
It is often, in hindsight, easier to view an experience we deem as a failure differently, but when we’re actually experiencing it, it usually isn’t a pleasant experience.
Being able to look at an event we consider a failure from a different perspective will help us deal with other experiences we may consider as failures in the future. Here are 10 reminders of things we should always remember whenever we experience a painful failure.
- You are a failure only if you quit. Failure doesn’t necessarily mean we must stop doing what we’ve been doing. When we quit, we cut off any possibility of success. Generally if we quit at any sign of failure, it means we haven’t address certain behaviours or developed the ability to adequately process an event we deem as a failure.
- You will learn your most valuable lessons from your failures. Failure helps us deal with the challenges of life a lot better, and it also strengthens our resiliency. The more we fail, the more able we are to cope with bigger challenges in life.
- If you’re not failing, it means you’re not making progress. We can only grow or challenge ourselves when we are doing something new or something beyond what we’re familiar with. There are lots of unknowns when we do something for the first time and the chances of making a mistake is often high. If we’re not willing to do something new, it means we’re not growing which automatically means we’re stagnant or stuck.
- You are not your failures. Just because we have failed at something does not mean we should label ourselves a failure. It simply means something did not work out and we just have to try a new strategy or new action. We should not allow our identity to be affected just because we did not succeed at something initially.
- Sometimes failure is how you are informed you’re not heading in the right direction. Our results are an ongoing feedback system which informs us whether we are on-course or off-course. When we’ve failed at something, it is feedback that our approach is not working and it is an invitation to do something different.
- Your persistence is being tested. Often, our commitment to what we think we want will be tested through a failure or a series of failures. If what we are trying to achieve is not important to us, chances are we’ll use the failure as a valid reason to quit. If what we are trying to achieve is really important to us, then we will be required to be persistent and continue on despite the challenges. Most times, success is closer than we think it is.
- Don’t make a failure to be any worse or bigger than it really is. A failure is just an event or a result. We should always take it for what it is. Where we tend to get ourselves into trouble is when we start giving meaning to the failure and making it mean something about us or our capability.
- A failure is often a blessing in disguise. An aware person will often reflect back on a major failure and say it was one of the best things that could have happened to them. That is often because that failure made them experience something or see something they may otherwise have not done so, and also prevent them from making a bigger mistake in the future. If there is something bad about an event, by law, there has to be something good about it too.
- A failure means you have received valuable practice in something. Failing at something means we haven’t worked out the right way or the best way to do something. It is reported that Thomas Edison failed over 10,000 times before he invented the incandescent light. After each “failure,” his response was he learnt another way how not to create it. That is a good attitude to have. Each failure is a stepping stone to get us closer to what we want.
- Life will go on. It is our responsibility to learn from our mistakes and failures. The truth is life will go on whether we choose to learn from our failures or not. Things will always be changing and we will be required to do new things, so it is up to us to continue to grow and evolve, and be the best version of ourselves.
Failure can often define who we are and how we can deal with the usual ups and downs of life. If we’re able to change our mindset around experiences we deem as failures, then we’ll be in a much better position to deal with our ongoing challenges. A failure is not always a bad thing. We can always learn something from a failure.
Question: What is another good reminder when dealing with a painful failure?
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