For most people, failing is never easy. Sure, you get the odd few people who seem to be able to naturally view their failures in an optimistic light. However, for most of us, failing feels terrible and can trigger all manner of negative thought processes. At times, it can feel as though life is an uphill struggle. Starting a new job, money worries, relationship breakdowns, the list continues. Although these problems can seem overwhelming at the time, they might just be leading to some great successes that wouldn’t have happened had you not stumbled over those hurdles to get there. Here are 5 reasons to start seeing any of your ‘perceived’ failures as successes.
1. Teachable moments
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”
Without failures, there would be no successes. Whether it’s an exam, a job, or a relationship that’s gone sour, it’s important to remember that although these moments may cause temporary suffering, there is always the opportunity to learn from them afterwards. In schools, children are increasingly taught not to worry about their mistakes. In fact, they’re becoming more and more aware that they can only begin to answer the difficult questions once they’ve got a few answers wrong. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the message taught to older generations. Even young adults in their early twenties are still the product of a system that had a lot of emphasis on results and instilled fear in them for getting an answer wrong in front of the class. Moving forward, it’s important to cherish any failures you’ve made, secure in the knowledge that they are setting you up for bigger successes.
2. Failing gives you an opportunity to practise being positive
Failing tends to hit perfectionists pretty hard. If you think of things as either good or bad, black or white, it’s much harder to begin to accept all of the possibilities in between. For example, if you’ve been laid off from your last job, you might perceive this as a failure. A black and white thinker would immediately start associating this loss with their own negative thoughts about themselves e.g. not being worthy, competent or deserving of love. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. When presented with a situation like this, there is more to gain than you’ve lost. Of course, things might be difficult financially for a little while until you get back on your feet. But, look at what you’ve gained in the meantime. Now, you have the opportunity to do what you want. You’ve regained your free time and can start looking for something that will really inspire you to wake up every morning and go to work. And if they’ve let you go, the likelihood is that they didn’t deserve you in the first place!
The more you fail, the better you’ll become at dealing with failure. Yes, it will hurt initially. But as time goes by, failure will inevitably teach you to let go of some of those unrealistic expectations that you’ve placed on yourself. Not only will failing teach you new and wonderful things about yourself, it will also build up your resilience to further potential failures. Sometimes, people put on a façade to show other people that they’re strong and unfazed by disappointing situations. However, whenever this is the case, it’s almost always masking a great deal of hurt that is bubbling beneath the surface. Rather than giving the impression as though you can cope with anything, resilience is how quickly you can begin to see your failures and successes. And the best way to become more resilient is to dare to do something that is challenging and allow yourself to fail. Perfectionists, especially, like to travel in their comfort zone where they won’t risk failure. However, you will become a much more resilient person and better able to deal with challenging situations when you give yourself permission to fail.
On a last note, failing at something doesn’t equate being a failure. Whatever your personal challenge is, just remember that it’s only a small obstacle on your pathway to success.