We all fail. We all stumble, fall on our faces, try hard to do something that explodes in the worst way possible. You might have labeled yourself a “failure” or a “loser.” I’m guilty of doing this. Failure can feel intense to me and I adopt it temporarily as part of my identity. It’s not that I actually believe that I’m a permanent disaster because I don’t. But it’s frustrating to want something badly and have it not work out the way I envisioned. It’s probably my perfectionism that’s activated when I don’t accomplish what I set out to do. In reality, we don’t succeed at every single thing we intend to do. That’s not the way that life works. Life is series of disappointments followed by successes. There’s no way to tell which project you try will work or what you’ll succeed at. Wouldn’t that be great if there was? There are professionals that can guide you along the way and help you accomplish your goals.
When you fail, it hurts. It’s hard to not take it personally like it was a deficit in your character that made the failure happen. You didn’t try your best, you weren’t focused or dedicated enough to make it happen, whatever it is. That’s not the case, there are many reasons why things don’t work out that are out of your control. If you find yourself thinking it’s your fault, hear those thoughts and realize that’s all they are: just thoughts.
For me, it’s difficult to not take failure to heart. It seems to mean something negative about me, but I have to remind myself that failing isn’t an indication of my worth. When things don’t go the way I imagined, it’s not because of anything I didn’t or didn’t do. I ask myself these questions:
- What was my intention?
- Did I try my best?
- What could I have done differently, if anything?
I answer those questions honestly. The knee-jerk reaction I have is to criticize myself and pick apart what I did wrong, but that’s not going to help me. That’s my inner-critic running wild inside my head. I’ve been trying this new thing where I look at what I can gain from the mistakes I’ve made. What are they trying to teach me? Sometimes I can’t figure it out what the lesson is in the moment, which can be frustrating. Then there are times where something horrible happens to you and there’s no reason for it. Searching for why a tragedy happens isn’t productive; there are times when bad things happen to good people. When something awful occurs, like a violent crime, for example, you didn’t bring this upon yourself.
Setting goals and accomplishing them requires that you fail at some point. You’ll likely fail multiple times before reaching your final destination. However, each of those “failures” brings you a little bit closer to success. That’s a part of the process, and when you fail, you’ll learn how to reframe failure as a part of your successful journey.