Critical Lessons To Learn When You Feel Like a Failure

They create songs, novels, inspiring quotations, and movies about it, but they always speak of failure in the past tense, as if it’s alright to talk about once we’ve transcended, found purpose, and are back on our feet. Failure is a pain in the neck.

It might be difficult to discover the romantic, lyrical, or profound truths we are meant to learn when we feel like we have failed in life, primarily because we are too angry or broken-hearted to search for them.

It takes a lot of energy to feel like a failure in life, and it comes in many forms. The only thing we can count on in life is that we will fail.

We will do so frequently, and as failures pile up, it might feel like the ground beneath our feet is collapsing.

Here are some examples of how failure may appear and feel.

Failure can take the form of:

  • Losing your job
  • Going bankrupt or having financial difficulties
  • Being passed over for a promotion
  • Getting dumped
  • Getting off a diet
  • Divorce is something that many people go through, and some people go through it more than once.
  • When you wanted to get up, there was someone waiting for you.
  • Not completing a significant objective or even your daily to-do list
  • Even when you do everything well, you still appear to lose where it matters.
  • Something you spent a lot of effort on going horribly wrong (anyone remember the IKEA disaster?)
  • You’re in your twenties (kind of—just joking)

Failure can take the form of:

  • Disappointment
  • Disillusionment
  • Deflation (I know, a lot of “d” words)
  • Emptiness

Failure, on the other hand, might feel like:

  • growth
  • change
  • progress

So, what are the lessons that occur in the interim that help us move from despair to wisdom? They are, in fact, present if we are ready to perceive them.

When you feel like you’ve failed in life, here are ten important things to remember.

1. There Is Merit in Trying

If you’ve failed, the fact is that you must have worked hard to get to this point. Because of their fear of failing, many individuals prefer not to attempt in order to prevent the potential of failing.

Fear of failure affected 31% of 1,083 adult respondents in a Linkagoal study, a higher percentage than those who dreaded spiders (30%), being alone at home (9%), or even the paranormal (9%).[1]

If you’ve ever felt like a failure, it’s because you mustered the bravery to try something difficult. Remember that your courage hasn’t vanished simply because things didn’t go as planned.

Celebrate your desire to attempt, and keep in mind that this is the same attitude that will propel you forward in your career.

2. Failure Humbles Us if We Don’t Give It Too Much Power

We commemorate our failures as predictions of future unavoidable failures if we give them too much credit. It’s as if failing at anything in life means you’ll never be able to succeed at it again.

We catastrophize our failure, exaggerate its breadth, and transform a single event into a self-fulfilling prophecy that we will have to repeat.

We don’t have to, though. When we accept our failure for what it is—nothing more, nothing less—it humbles us. We take it in, label what happened, describe how it affected us, and leave it at that.

We see it as information and recognize that it has little bearing on whether we will succeed or fail in the future.

3. The Mental Gymnastics of “What if” Are Useless—Repurpose the Time

What has been done has been done. Nobody benefits from reliving our failed moment. “Would’ve,” “could’ve,” and “should’ve” flood our brains as we ponder all of the many ways things could have gone differently if only.

But the fact is that the time we waste in this realm of pointless repetition might be better spent striving to fully own the aspects of the failure that we have control over.

This is our opportunity to spend time in contemplation and to be really honest in identifying the important issues. When failure hurts too deeply, many of us look for ways to let ourselves off the hook.

We search for other sources to blame or distort the memories with justifications rather than confess to the item we could have altered.

While we may not be able to control every failure, there are many areas where we can be held accountable, learn from, and improve in the future.

It’s preferable if you “concentrate only on those things that are under your control.” Feeling in control is a powerful antidote to feelings of helplessness and defeat, motivating you to try again, reducing your odds of failure, and increasing your chances of success.” [2]

4. Accountability Cannot Be Shared

We don’t want to be blamed, therefore martyrdom isn’t our objective. Accountability, on the other hand, is critical.

We want to take full responsibility for the errors we discover via self-reflection and express complete accountability in conversations with others who were harmed by our mistakes.

Although responsibility can be shared and the other party may have a role to play, we should utilize this chance to state our effect regardless of our intentions in order to make sense of our failures.

Even if no one else is engaged, the goal is to eliminate excuses, acknowledge what happened, and indicate what will happen next.

For example, if you feel like you failed in life because you were passed over for a promotion in your career, you can reflect on whether there is any accountability for the times you could have been more intentional with your work and set a goal for how you can focus harder next quarter and make a point to self-advocate more publicly.

If, on the other hand, the failure is a break-up, and self-reflection reveals ways you could have been more communicative or transparent during the relationship, you should make a point of admitting it to the affected party and stating that this is something you plan to work on before pursuing your next relationship.

5. The Process of Elimination Applies

Consider the last time you took an exam with a multiple-choice question. You had to apply reasoning to narrow down the options to the most likely options, and in the lack of certainty, you had to make an informed estimate.

We are constantly presented with comparable possibilities, and we might perceive failure as a means of getting closer to the “correct answer.” All of the ways something shouldn’t go get us closer to understanding how it should.

In this sense, failure in life is beneficial to us. We move closer to the results we expect to discover when we can analyze our failures constructively, retrieve the knowledge they give, and proceed with understanding.

6. Subpar Stats Still Belong to Winners

Baseball players with a batting average of 300 or above are often regarded as all-stars or future Hall of Famers. However, if you have a batting average of 300, you are effectively failing 70% of the time. [3]

Doesn’t sound as impressive now, does it? However, the truth is that we fail more often than we succeed throughout our lives. It’s time to look back on your mistakes and put things in perspective.

7. You Find Out What You Are Made Of

Failure isn’t something to be taken lightly. It hurts a lot when you fail in life, and I mean truly fail. Overcoming the difficulties that come with major life failure is no simple task.

Even so, when we choose to get back out there and try again, we are proving something to ourselves.

The metaphorical step we take to “get back on the horse” proves to us that we are more resilient than we realised.

Trusting after having your heart broken, applying for a promotion after being passed over, asking the next person out on a date after being ghosted—the metaphorical step we take to “get back on the horse” proves to us that we are more resilient than we realized.

We’ve tried before and failed, so we’ll try and fail again.

When we learn to bounce back, we discover exactly how capable we are.

“Going outside of your comfort zone is rarely a pleasant experience, but the confidence and sense of relief—what we term ‘excitation transfer’—are extremely powerful.

‘Wow, watch what I did,’ that feeling of mastery, is a learning experience. The dread is unpleasant in and of itself, but no one remembers it. That pleasant high is what people remember.”[4]

We may master the art of failing forward when we push through failure in the direction of attempting again.

Little children who are learning to walk may fall to the ground hundreds of times, but they do not opt to crawl for the rest of their lives. They continue to stand.

We can approach life more lightheartedly and push back on all of the negative self-talk we acquire as we develop if we tap into that same childlike ease with failure.

“People will condemn me if I fail,” says the author. “If I attempt and everyone watches me fail, I will lose their respect.” What does it matter? Life is difficult.

8. It’s All in the Framing

You must select how you will think about and discuss your shortcomings in the future. What you chose to mention reveals a lot about how you felt about the failure.

You prolong life’s greatest issues if you linger on and talk about all of the unpleasant residuals of failure. As Yoda stated, “fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred, and hate leads to suffering.”

When you talk about learning, you perpetuate the progress that the world longs to see.

9. Sharing Is Caring

Repurpose your knowledge to save someone else the effort. I’ve always questioned the adage that every generation must learn for themselves that the iron is hot—I think that’s nonsense! Some people may pay attention to the warning.

Granted, failure happens to everyone, and we all have things to learn, but it never hurts to tell your experience.

In this manner, you share your ideas with the world, be honest, truthful, and courageous. Never underestimate the effect you can have by sharing the “aha!” moments that come from your mistakes, whether it’s in the context of a mentorship relationship, openly sharing on your blog, or bits you give when you sit on a panel one day. Your efforts will be noticed.

10. It’s Okay to Let It Go (You Know, Like What Elsa Said?)

If you’re famously harsh on yourself, you could feel driven to cling to failure, but after the introspection, responsibility, and learning have taken place, the failure will have fulfilled its purpose. Allow it to go and make room for your future actions. Besides, you still have a lot of failures in you!

Final Thoughts

Life is just one huge opportunity to get extremely excellent at failing. When you feel like you’ve failed in life, there are a lot of possibilities to screw it up, but there are far more than 10 important lessons to learn.

Consider each day a new opportunity to exercise courage—a fresh opportunity to learn from your failures and apply what you’ve learned to the next great risk. It’s fine to fail in life since it doesn’t mean you’re doomed for the rest of your life. Nobody has ever achieved success without first failing.

Whether you’ve been going broke or being cautious to avoid making mistakes, let today be the first of many days when you fail with complete confidence that everything you do has a purpose.

Reference:

  1. Los Angeles Times: We’re far more afraid of failure than ghosts: Here’s how to stare it down

2. Psychology Today: 10 Surprising Facts About Failure

3. MLB News: These are MLB’s unluckiest hitters

4. Los Angeles Times: We’re far more afraid of failure than ghosts: Here’s how to stare it down

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