Failure comes in all shapes and sizes. From failing a test in school to watching your marriage crumble – and everything in between – life is all too ready to remind us of all the marks we have missed along the way. Maybe you can push past the pain or ignore the nagging feeling that you don’t measure up, but eventually everyone one faces a crushing defeat. The thing most people don’t know is that it’s not the failure that defines their life; it’s the moments, days, and weeks that follow the failure. Because believe it or not, the sun will rise tomorrow, and the world will keep going on. Will you?
Here are a few things to keep in mind when failure threatens to overcome you:
No human ever became interesting by not failing. The more you fail and recover and improve, the better you are as a person. Ever meet someone who’s always had everything work out for them with zero struggle? They usually have the depth of a puddle. Or they don’t exist. – Chris Hardwick
1. Separate failure from your identity.
Internalizing failure is a natural instinct, but it will only serve to drag you down in the long run. You are not a failure, you are a person who has come across adversity. The second you start linking your worth with your success rate, you will become unsatisfied. Instead of looking at yourself and your life through the lens of your failures, look through the lens of your character, strength, and courage found in getting up and trying again.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. – Winston Churchill
2. Learn from your mistakes
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Everyone fails. We know this, and at some level, we even acknowledge that the most successful people have overcome great failures, yet when it comes to our own set of struggles, we can’t see past our own shame and fear to move on and do something great. The people who are able to build success on top of failures are the ones who were able to learn from their mistakes and move on. Take some time to let it hurt, but then focus on what went wrong. Don’t waste your failure; learn from it.
Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing. – Denis Waitley
3. Don’t obsess over it.
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After gleaning all the wisdom you can from your past mistake – let it go. Dwelling over your failure will not change the outcome. In fact, it will only intensify the outcome. Spending a little time reeling from failure is ok, but letting it take root in your thoughts and actions will allow your past to control your future. This habit will lead to fear. There is nothing more crippling to moving forward than fear.
Everything you want is on the other side of fear. – Jack Canfield
4. Release the need for approval of others.
Another huge barrier in moving forward is what others will think of you. Everyone struggles with wanting approval from others on some level. Whether it’s your parents, your professor, or your peers, we all long for validation. This need for approval is never more apparent than after a failure. What will others think of me if I try again? Am I stupid for not giving up my dream? What if I fail again? I think this quote perfectly sums up what you can tell yourself when these thoughts creep up:
I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone. – Bill Cosby
5. Get a new perspective
From the time we are young, we are given a mindset about failure – “If I fail then I am weak, and stupid, and inferior.” But what if we could break free from that limited perspective? Instead of viewing failure as an end, view it as a necessary stepping stone. “If I fail, I am one step closer to success.”
Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
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