Have you ever noticed we tend to be our biggest critic? Whenever things don’t go as expected or as planned, it is very easy to label them as failures and criticise ourselves.
While we intellectually understand failure is an inevitable part of life, some of us go to great lengths to avoid failure in the first place. It may well be because of the pain, embarrassment or shame we associate with failure.
Holding onto thoughts of failure or even labelling ourselves as failures can be very damaging to our self-esteem, self-confidence and what we’re willing to do at present or in the future. This is why being able to move past what we think of as failures is extremely important if we want to create a different reality for ourselves.
When I published my first book, Hoops and Freedom, I struggled to make the impact or reap the benefit I thought having a book would bring me. My confidence was deeply affected to the point where I did not write again for six years. It was during that period where I really learned the lessons I needed to about that experience and was able to move past what I perceived as a failure. As a result of coming to terms with that “failure,” I have since been able to write and publish three more books and have also become a three-time #1 Amazon bestselling author.
It doesn’t have to take six years or longer to overcome what we define as failures. Here are five simple ways to get over failure quickly so that we can learn the lessons we need to in order to create the results we really want.
- Accept how you are feeling. It is okay to have feelings of disappointment, remorse or be sad about something that happened or didn’t happen as planned. The danger, however, is in letting those emotions linger, fester and consume us. This is why allowing those emotions to pass through us is an important first step in overcoming thoughts of failure. The key is not to suppress those negative emotions. As the saying goes, “What you resist, persists.”
One technique I’ve learnt to let go of negative emotions quickly is called The Sedona Method, which comprises of a series of questions we can ask ourselves to release negative emotions. The steps are:
- Get in touch with the emotion you are feeling completely.
- Ask yourself – Could I let that emotion go?
- Ask yourself – Would I let that emotion go?
- Ask yourself – When will I let that emotion go?
- Repeat the process for every emotion you are feeling until you have been able to release them.
- Don’t make it personal. It can be very easy to create new labels for our ourselves after a perceived failure such as: I’m not good enough, or I’ll always be a failure, or They were right when they said I would fail. It is important to know that just because we haven’t figured out how to do something doesn’t mean we’re a failure. It simply means we haven’t yet figured out how to do something yet. Our experiences of failure do not makes us failures.
- Acknowledge the failure. Similar to accepting how we are feeling, sometimes it is better to say, “You know what? That really did not work out well. I thought I’d have a better outcome but it just didn’t work out this time.” Acknowledging something has not gone right takes away any power it may have over us. As a result, we’ll be in a much stronger position to move past it faster. Sometimes acknowledging something has not gone well can also come down to asking for feedback, whether they are from clients, colleagues or loved ones. Feedback can be an extremely valuable when it comes to doing something different and better next time.
- Look for the benefit or progress made. If we regard every experience as a learning experience that is supporting us become the person we want to be, then we’ll be able to find any progress we have made. According to one of the laws of the universe, the law of polarity, everything has an opposite, which means if something has not gone right, by law, there has to be something right or good about it. Therefore, it is up to us to find what’s good about something we deem as a failure.
- Get back up. A powerful way to overcome failure is to get right back up again and keep moving toward what we want. It means learning the lessons we need to and then starting a new project, with the new awareness and experience we have. Getting back up also means doing things differently in order to get different outcomes. Asking ourselves different questions can be a powerful way to start doing things differently. One powerful question is What can I do differently this time so that it becomes inevitable I will achieve the outcome I want?
If we continue to hang onto thoughts of failure, disappointment, regret or resentment, not only will we hinder any progress we can make, we will also make it harder for ourselves to look for anything positive that may have occurred. Learning to overcome perceived failures quickly can help us create the present and future we desire.
Question: How have you dealt with failure in the past and what can you do differently?
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