Nobody likes to fail. There is some sort of stigma that we attach to failure and even just saying the word can bring some people out in a cold sweat. Failure makes us uncomfortable. Failure hurts.
Many of us have come to despise failure so much that when it does happen to us, it can completely derail us. We can feel shame, disappointed in ourselves, guilt and a lot of embarrassment worrying what people will think of us.
I remember when I had my first experience of failure with a business, I was so sad and ashamed when it failed, I withdrew into myself. I thought people would make fun of me and I would never be able to do anything else. Of course, that was nowhere near true. Yes, some people were not very nice but these people on reflection were not real friends and I did not need them in my life. I found that the people that truly loved me, my family and true friends did not care about the fact that I had failed. I was still the same person as far as they were concerned. Yes, they were sad for me because I was sad about the way things ended but nonetheless they still stuck around and were there for me. More importantly, i learnt a lot about myself and my own tenacity.
There may be situations where our failures causes us to lose friends or family, e.g. in a marriage breakup or a falling out with friends, even then we have to hold on to that fundamental truth that failure is okay and we will survive it. Yes, it is helpful to have support from others but this is not always going to be the case, there will be times when we need to stand strong on our own and be our own cheerleader.
This may also be the case in situations where we may have to go out on a limb by ourselves and the people around us may not be particularly supportive, When we fail in such instances, it can be a lot harder to pick ourselves up especially if we are concerned about what people will say or think. Reminding ourselves that failure is part of everyday life and that everyone fails at one point or another will be immensely helpful.
We all need to remember that failure is an inevitable part of life and I would argue that failure is a necessary experience for us as human beings. Failure is something that happens to everyone at some point. Even the most successful people in the world have failed at some time in their lives. If we are going to try new things and take chances, then it is most likely that some of our attempts at doing something different are not going to work out. That is totally okay and if we cultivate a mindset that accepts that failure is a possibility then it is much easier for us to be courageous in the way we live our lives.
It is understandable that failure has a negative vibe for most of us after all, we have all been conditioned to see success as the ultimate goal. We are constantly bombarded with images and stories of successful people and their lives. Interestingly, we only find out about successful people when they become a success. Social media is also really good at marketing success. No one posts about their failures on social media. All we see are what people have achieved, what they are good at, be it financial or material success.
However, we have to remember that everyone no matter how powerful, rich or successful they may seem, will have faced setbacks and challenges. It is in fact the challenges that help shape our future self more than our successes. Being failure tolerant means that we are able to accept that we will face a certain amount of failure at one time or the other.
I have had many failures in my life, and when I look back at each one, I realise, each of those failures came to teach me something very valuable about life and about myself. I have become emotionally intelligent, more resilient and self assured from each one of these experiences and I would not be the person I am today without all of my failures.
I am not going to pretend that failure does not hurt, it can be painful, humiliating and devastating depending on the level of the failure but it is up to us how much time we spend agonising over the failure. Once we acknowledge our failure, it is useful to take some time to process it and decide what lessons we can learn from it. This also gives us time to grieve any losses that we may have had as a result of the failure.
Once we have done that, we must accept that it is now in the past and we must avoid the temptation to fret or spend too much time worrying about it. If we stay too long in that space of worry and rumination, we will find ourselves trapped in a prison of self doubt and fear. This is a bad place to be as it leads to us procrastinating and unable to take our next steps into a different experience.
It is important to reflect on our failures but it is just as important to have realistic thoughts about a particular failure. We should be willing to take responsibility for our part in the failure and be willing to adapt and change so we are not constantly making the same mistakes over and over again but at the same time we should not let the fear of failure keep us from trying again.
This is the case regardless of what area of our lives we have failed in, be it in our career or business, weight loss goals, relationships or family. Let us learn not to see failure as the be all and end all, instead let us face up to our failures with courage and humility recognising that this is part of life, this is living and this is how we grow.
We cannot sidestep the pain that comes with failure but that is actually part of the process of growing from our failures, Failure makes us so much more resilient and empathetic. It teaches us what does not work and points us in the direction of what might work. Dealing with the pain and allowing that to be, is important but once that is done, you can move on knowing that you are stronger for the experience.
When you fail and you are able to survive the failure, you realise your own strength and that in itself can be so liberating. It reminds you that you can get through difficult things and life will keep moving on regardless. No one really cares about your failures as much as you care about your failure and if you can stop seeing failure as a big deal then you will not be afraid to try again.
No matter what you’ve failed at, be reassured that it happens to everyone and you can get through it. Your failures do not define you and when you do become successful, it will be all the more sweeter because of those failures.