Overcoming failure is something so important to learn in life. Spending your days petrified of failure can have a very negative impact on what you aspire to do, how far you challenge yourself and your general self-esteem and mental wellbeing.
I myself, have always been scared of failure. The idea of not passing an exam, making a mistake when speaking a foreign language or being rejected by somebody was the absolute most horrible thing that could happen to me. When I then ‘failed’ my career as a teacher by quitting, that’s when I completely fell apart mentally. Failure can seriously trigger some issues for many of us.
I still struggle. Yesterday I took a test, and I was pretty confident everything would go well. My friend I was doing it with passed, and then I was told I would have to come back and try again. I was quite shocked about how much emotion this brought out of me (I think the instructor also was, poor guy!!). It seems to have become a major trigger for me to lose it emotionally.
So, after going through the whole ‘I’m a failure’, ‘I’m not good at anything’, ‘everyone is better than me’ song and dance that my brain still loves to impose sometimes, I decided to google ‘overcoming failure’ and think about how to deal with this. I particularly liked the following points I found:
- Accept it and feel the emotions.
Your first stage is to deal with the fact that it happened. Don’t ignore it and go into denial, don’t go telling people you passed something to cover up the failure. Tell people and if necessary, let your emotions come out. Sometimes you just need to cry (preferably alone) and get angry (preferably with a cushion) to be able to then reflect and move on.
- Address the cause of your failure.
Now you can hopefully look at what happened. Was it something out of your control, for example you missed out on a job because hundreds of good people applied? Did you make a mistake that could be rectified? Have a good look at what happened and see how you could improve the situation next time.
- Don’t let it become part of your identity.
Do not make the mistake of thinking that one mistake or setback makes you a failure. It does not define you, it is your actions now moving forward and how you react which define you.
- Change your definition of failure.
I’ve always looked at failure as an incredibly negative thing, but how about we change its meaning? Failure is a good thing in many ways. We learn from our mistakes and improve. It makes us grow as people and understand ourselves better. Failure is necessary in order to achieve and succeed.
- Remember that the people who inspire us have spent their life making mistakes.
This quote from Michael Johnson sums it up: “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Turns out to succeed, you have to fail first… so let’s all go fail at something. As long as we get back up, it looks like we could really succeed 🙂