Failure. Everyone faces it, it’s so common, and yet it’s treated like such a dirty word. People shy away from it like it’s a personal affront, a defining characteristic. Unfortunately this mindset can stop you from handling failure in a healthy way.
Nobody likes to experience failure. I’m no different, I’ve dragged out many things I should have stopped, just so I wouldn’t have to admit failure. Why does a simple word strike so much fear in our hearts? And how can we stop it?
1. Stop seeing failure as a personality trait
We all do it, we label ourselves as failures like it’s a sin.
Try and separate the failure from your identity. You may not have found a way to do something successfully, but that does not make you, a living breathing diverse person, a failure. It just makes you human!
Remember that your personality is more than the mistakes you have made. Failure is not a label or a judgement, it’s an unavoidable part of life. You are not less of a person for having experienced it.
2. Learn from it
Instead of focusing on the negativity of failure, focus instead on the lessons you can learn.
What caused the failure? What can you do differently? How will you move forwards?
Try and see the failure as an opportunity for learning. Be honest and analytical with yourself and look at where you went wrong. Remember to be honest enough to acknowledge what was beyond your control, and what was due to your decisions.
Blaming yourself won’t change the outcome, but analysing the decisions you made and changing how you move forward will help you succeed next time.
3. Accept and own your feelings
Failure can create a lot of feelings. Fear, anger, disappointment. Own those feelings.
I’m not saying you should drown in them or let them overtake your life, but it’s ok to feel them! Once you’ve accepted their existence you can start working on how to process them.
Our emotions can only control us as much as we allow them. Don’t ignore them, stuff them down or pretend they don’t exist. Find healthy ways to work through these productively way instead.
These ways can include talking to someone, journaling, or anything else that helps you work through how you feel.
4. Stop living to impress others
We’re all guilty of this. Seeking validation and approval is completely natural human behaviour, but we can’t let it rule our lives.
The thing about trying to impress everyone else, is that the goalpost will be forever moving. You simply cannot please everyone, and trying to will lead to an identity crisis.
Instead find what values you hold and live by those. You are the only one who will always be in your life, and that’s who you need to focus on. Approval from other people will come and go, but once you find happiness within yourself, everything else follows.
Look for the successes in your life that matter to you.
5. Know when to let it go
While you should learn from mistakes and failures, it’s important to recognise when that stops serving you and when to let it go.
Dwelling on failures is so common, and so human. We all give more airtime in our heads to the bad than the good. Focusing on the bad is only helpful while we are learning from it.
Once we’ve learned all we can from it, we owe it to ourselves to let it, and all the negativity go.
Failure is a part of life
Every single person on this planet has experienced failure. I’ve experienced it many times!
My most recent failure was one that stung the hardest. I started a business, and after two years I had to shut it down. I put that decision off for months all so I wouldn’t have to call myself a failure. I wasn’t handling failure in a healthy way, and it showed.
This failure came from a mix of naïveté and poor decisions. It doesn’t make me a bad person, it doesn’t make me ‘useless’ like I thought. It makes me human.
Once I stopped that train of humiliation I started analysing. I found all the points where I made the wrong call and I learned from it. I took those points to make my next venture even better.
If you ever think you’re the only person who has experienced failure, jump on google. Thomas Edison, Oprah Winfrey, Stephen King. 3 names everyone knows, not for their initial failures but for the success they eventually became known for! The one thing that tied them together was knowing how to handling failure in a positive way.
They all failed and they all tried again, and so should you.
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