How to Overcome Failure
Oftentimes things go OK or even better than that.
But on some days they don’t.
You make a mistake, have setback or you simply fail. It’s no fun. But you can’t avoid it either unless you avoid doing anything at all.
So what’s needed is a smart and self-kind way to handle such situations instead of letting them lead to vicious self-beatings and to them dragging you down into negativity for the day or month.
When you’ve just failed it will most likely hurt. Sometimes a bit, sometimes a lot.
Don’t try to push it away by distracting yourself or by trying to push the responsibility onto the rest of the world (if you deep down know that this one’s on you partly or fully).
And don’t try to paint it over with a smile.
I’ve found that it works better to not let yourself be lead away by those options or impulses.
But to just be with what I’m thinking and feeling. To try to accept it, to let it in and to hurt for a while instead of trying to reject it all and to keep it away.
Because when you let it in and accept it then it will go faster and in the long run be less painful to process what has happened.
If you reject how you really feel then those emotions will pop up at unexpected times later on and can make you moody, pessimistic, angry or sad.
You are not a failure, no matter what you are going through
When you’ve had a setback it’s very easy to start thinking that you will always keep failing in this area of your life. It’s easy to start thinking that YOU are indeed a failure.
Don’t fall for such a destructive and sometimes seductive self-fulfilling prophecy.
Instead, remind yourself that:
• Just because you failed today or yesterday doesn’t mean that you’ll fail the next time.
• The truth is that this won’t last for the rest of your life if you keep moving forward, if you take action and you keep learning and it doesn’t label you as some kind of failure (except if you decide to create that label in your own head).
Seeing what’s negative as a temporary thing instead of something permanent is an essential key to an optimistic attitude and to keep going forward in life.
Be creative and learn from it.
See it more as valuable feedback and something you can use to improve rather than only a big blow and setback.
I’ve found that the simplest and most helpful way to do that is to ask myself better questions (instead of the common ones that send you off into a negative spiral).
• What’s one thing I can learn from this?
• How can I adjust my course to avoid this trap/making the same mistake and likely do better next time?
• What’s one thing I can differently the next time?
Take some time with these questions and be honest with yourself as you answer them.
There’s no rush and while some of the answers may be immediate others might take an hour, day or even a week to pop up.
The important thing is to start thinking about the situation from this perspective and to be constructive about things instead of getting stuck in denial or negativity and apathy.
Remember, failure is always part of it if you want to succeed.
We often mostly just hear about people’s successes.
But the path to those milestones tends to have many setbacks. The story of someone’s success may seem only bright and fast-moving in what’s told in the media or we see in our minds.
But the reality – and the useful way to approach setbacks – is most often more like this quote by Michael Jordan:
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Do not keep it in you.
Another powerful way to handle the emotional fallout and the thoughts that come from a failure is to not keep it all bottled up inside.
But to let it out into the light by talking it over with someone close to you.
By venting about it while the other person just listens you can sort things out for yourself, help yourself to accept what happened instead of pushing it away and release that inner pressure.
By having a conversation about the situation you can see it from another perspective and through someone else’s eyes.
This person can help you to ground yourself in reality again, to encourage and to perhaps even to find a way forward