“How can I deal better with failure?”
What motivates you to open a book, make a start at your work project, sit on your desk or make that dreaded call?
And what stops you in your tracks? What feeds your procrastinating self?
Soothing words of:
“it can wait..”, “I can always do it later..”, “there is something more important I need to do right now..”?
More often than not, what stops us from reaching our goals is the underlying feeling of fear. Fear of failing at that dreaded, difficult, boring or complex task.
Think about it for a moment.
If only for a moment, you could have that certainty that the project, the exam, the deadline or even the relationship would have a happy, successful ending would you delay much longer or would you start straight away?
So why do we fear failing so much?
…maybe it starts from some taunts in the playground, those harsh critical words of a parent and the undeniable feeling (well it's really a thought) that we are not good enough. Simply because we have failed.
But would we fear failure so much if we had the absolute guarantee that others would still love and accept us just the same even after we had failed? And more importantly would those (big or small) failures matter so much if we would still, at the end of the day, accept ourselves and care for ourselves enough to not beat ourselves to the ground with our own harsh, critical words?
Failing at something means just that. That you have failed at-that-particular-thing. At the greater context of things, it does not and cannot make you, the whole of you a complete & utter failure! That would be true, if that little failure had enough power to change you into this mistake-making machine and you wouldn’t be able to succeed at anything, nothing, nada even if you really, really tried. Now or never!
You wouldn’t be able put your shoes on the next morning, take yourself to uni or work, remind yourself to have lunch and have it, drive your car and so on. How could you? You are a failure, remember!? You would simply fail at everything, being the complete failure that you are.
But are you? Could that label EVER be true??
Well.. you could argue:
“there has been more than one occasion that I have failed in my lifetime!”
Point taken. You might have failed a few times. Or even many times. BUT…
Did you fail 100% of the time, at everything, always??
If your answer to this question is a resounding or even reluctant ‘NO’ then you really need to re-examine how you talk to yourself about yourself! If that horrible, bullying label ‘failure’ is NOT absolutely true then..
REFUSE to say it to yourself!
And if you keep saying it (and for a while you will because it is an engrained thinking habit) then..
REFUSE to believe it!
Challenge it, argue with it (in your head) and refuse to engage with it. Not because you are avoiding to think about it but because you dismiss it as a thought that is NOT valid.
“And what if I feel like I am a failure?”
That gut feeling DOES NOT make reality! Because you feel, for example, that your partner is cheating, that feeling alone does not turn a thought into reality!
What is real, is that you are as capable of failing as you are of succeeding.
You are a too-complex-to-be-rated individual that is unique in this world but also prone to making mistakes! No matter how much you fight this fact it still remains a fact!
You are also someone who simply tries to survive while trying to make meaning of this world. In the process you will stumble, you will fall but you will sooner or later dust yourself off and pick yourself up again.
And if you look back at that failed attempt and try to make sense of it by asking:
“what was the reason I failed?’”, “how can I prevent the same mistake from happening again?’”, “what have I learned about myself and how can I change?’”
you will brilliantly take dust and turn it into gold!
Because with all the answers to the above questions you will have gathered valuable data and you will know now what and how to change to increase your chances of succeeding the next time!
So, ‘failure’ rather than being this dreaded, horrible monster, can lead to more wisdom, more maturity and more self-awareness. ONLY if you think about it in such a way.
And if you fail again, that will be another lesson. A lesson about you, about others and about life.
And you will try again. Happily if you are still a friend to yourself and angrily if you are still your own enemy.
Now my friend, let’s go and fail (or succeed) at something!
Either way, we will become wiser!
For more advice on how to deal with failure please contact me!