For a second there you thought this post was going to be about swearing didn’t you?
This post is about how we cope with failure (perceived or actual).
Feeling that we haven’t done well at something can be a bitter pill to swallow. Dealing with a plan that goes completely pear-shaped can leave us feeling negative and confused.
Knowing that we have failed spectacularly can leave us feeling devastated.
Here are some ways to come to grips with our thoughts on failure.
Just a heads up, this post isn’t so much about actions to take when you have experienced a failure but more to do with the feelings you might be dealing with along the way.
Get in touch with your feelings
You might not even realize you are struggling with feelings of failure.
You could be feeling depressed, flat or down in the dumps. The truth is you could be feeling a whole range of emotions. Do some soul searching about how you feel and what specifically is upsetting you.
I will use a general example. Imagine you are thinking to yourself ‘my life sucks’. Not only is that completely negative, it also doesn’t help you in any way. Instead pinpoint the core reason for feeling a sense of failure and work on that in a positive, healthy way.
Avoid the words ‘I am’
I am sure we all know how powerful these two little words can be. We tend to believe what we put after them.
Think about how you feel when you read each of these sentences.
I am a failure.
I didn’t reach my target this time around but I will do better next time.
Which one fills you with the most dread, disappointment and feelings of inadequacy?
Definitely door number one.
Whenever your hear yourself framing yourself negativity using “I am’, reframe those thoughts into something more realistic and positive. This isn’t about rattling off any rubbish to make yourself feel better, this is about realistically sizing up your situation to get a better perspective.
Feel free to use ‘I am’ for good not evil.
Don’t go into a negative spiral
Negativity spreads like a virus. One moment you are feeling a bit down about a setback in your career, the next you are doubting the stability of your relationship and before you know it your whole life seems a big old mess.
If we allow it to, we can let negativity spread into every aspect of our lives.
If you are not doing as well in one area of your life as you would like, keep your feelings focused on improving that one area; not tearing the other parts of your life to pieces.
Focus on the elements of your life that are a success. Focus on what is working.
Let go of perfectionism
Perhaps you achieved what you wanted or reached your goal, yet you still have this niggling feeling of things not being quite right.
Things aren’t perfect so you see that as a failure on your part.
I think we would all be a lot better off if we deleted perfect from the English language altogether. Stop beating yourself up with this one.
Enough of the perfect partner, perfect home, perfect job, perfect day, perfect life crap.
Let go of the way it was supposed to turn out
Sometimes our feelings of failure are more based on the way things were supposed to turn out. We can often spot this fairly easily by taking notice of when we use the word ‘should’. Our age can also play a big factor in this one. You know the way it goes – I should have done such and such by a certain age.
Often we picture a certain outcome and when it doesn’t turn out exactly the way we thought it would we feel disappointed. We feel a sense of failure when there isn’t a need for one.
As we all know life takes a lot of twists and turns and we have to adjust our big picture along the way. You might not get to point B the way you initially planned. You might decide point B isn’t what you want after all and choose a completely different path.
Don’t blame everyone else
Be warned – this one might sting a little.
Say you are trying to get yourself out of financial trouble. The creditors are breathing down your neck and your finances are a mess. Instead of dealing with your situation and the feelings associated with where you currently sit, you blame everyone else for your financial failings. Your boss doesn’t pay you enough, clients are not buying enough to help you pay the bills.
The truth however could be something completely differently. You are shopping with money you don’t have and living beyond your means.
At some point you need to take responsibility and be accountable for your actions.
Ditch the denial
We often cover up our feelings of failure with total denial. Denial that any of our current circumstances are our fault. Denial that we have done anything wrong or that we should have done things differently.
We convince ourselves that our problems are caused by external factors and no work needs to be done on our feelings or bad habits. Step away from the denial and you will have a much better chance of fixing the real problem.
Admit to failing
Sometimes we just have to admit we screwed up. Our plan failed, we didn’t come close to achieving our goal or objective despite how hard we worked.
We crashed and burned.
This isn’t easy. It takes a lot of strength. It will feel painful.
In cases like this, it’s a matter of changing strategy and realizing what we did wrong the first time around and working out the correct way to proceed. It is about learning from our mistakes.
Dealing with failure is never pleasant but it is an inevitable part of life.
Overcoming failure and turning that failure into a triumph can be one of the greatest feelings of all.
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