I Have Failed! Now What?
All of us have failed at something, we all made mistakes and the difficult thing about that is the story loop running in our heads. The story loop probably goes like this: I am a failure, I am so hopeless, what will my friends think of me, how am I going to face them again, I cannot get anything right…
Some of us are better at stopping the loop whilst others have a really difficult time making peace with failure.
Phycologists distinguish between 2 types of individuals:
1) Approach – This person sees the mountain. Decides to climb it, knowing that challenges will be encountered along the way and that challenges are part of the journey. This person tackles the challenge head-on or decides to pursue something else.
2) Avoidant – This person sees the mountain and the glory of being on top but would rather avoid setbacks and ultimate failure. This person plans to avoid the pitfalls, thus lowering the chances of success. This person finds it difficult to bounce back and would rather abandon the journey altogether.
Let’s say the mountain is a goal; ask yourself: What is the motivation? Are you going to try to achieve the goal or are you focusing on not failing?
Sticking Smiley faces everywhere and telling yourself to make lemonade from lemons does not work. The only thing that does work is managing the negative emotions.
The question now is how to transform failure into an opportunity for growth.
1. First of all, acknowledge your feelings, sit with the feeling and then accept it. From experience, the feelings will return with a vengeance if you are trying to minimise the feelings or distract yourself.
2. Take responsibility and do not play the blame game. Ask yourself if any external factors influenced the outcome. Take responsibility for the factors that were within your control and think about how you are going to improve from this point forward.
3. What do you focus on? Studies found that the more a person focuses on not failing the more likely they are to fail. Remember energy flows where focus goes.
4. Forget about “status anxiety”! Most people’s views about success and failure are so tied up in what other people will think of them. With the result that they are too afraid to even try. If you fail, so what? At least you are the one with the courage to life live on your terms.
5. “I never had a failure. It was all feedback”. That’s what Thomas Edison said about failure. He did not make it personal. When you feel like something failed, take a step back and ask yourself “What is the story I am telling myself in my head?” Is it: “ I am a failure. I cannot manage anything. I am useless?” Or is it” How can I use this feedback?” Now you focus on the “why” you feel the way you do, rather than the “What” are you feeling.
6. What is the gift? Failure is never a good experience, the shame and guilt that ‘s going with that is awful. Instead of sitting with the awfulness, why not ask yourself what lesson you can learn from this experience to help you move forward? Figuring out what caused you to fail, will help you to feel better but also help you to recognise the gift.
7. Face the fear and plan your next move. Sometimes the answer to what the gift is is not immediate. But it is important to face the fear, to step outside your comfort zone, to plan the next move. Just one step at a time.
8. Locate your “flow”. After a failure, we need to get in touch with ourselves. Do an activity that you fully enjoy, that requires engagement on all levels, thus putting you in the “flow”. Note that the activity is for your enjoyment not for your partner or children.
Failure is not necessarily a stepping stone on the road to success, but our ability to manage our negative emotions will ensure a more joyful journey to the mountain top.
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