Let’s Talk about the F Word… Failure – One of the most difficult things to experience is failure. Whether you flunk an exam, fail at a business venture, or a relationship falls apart, the result is the same – you feel immense disappointment, rejection, and guilt. When you experience failure, your brain immediately processes failure as a major loss. Your heart is then flooded with emotions and your body goes into fight or flight mode trying to regain some sense of control of the situation. Suddenly it’s a giant internal sh*tshow.
Failure has the powerful ability to keep you stuck in fear and paralyze you so that you are unable to move forward. Fear loves to see you down and keep you down. It’s exceptional at playing mind games and it’s also quite persuasive – it will get you to fall for all of its tricks. However, fear and failure (my two favorite F words) do not have to be your enemy. With a few helpful tools in your toolbox, they can be your greatest teachers and create opportunities for growth. The key is learning how to shift your mindset from the negative to the positive.
When you are experiencing deep pain from failure, make sure to feel all of your feelings. As I said earlier, failure is a death of sorts and you need to grieve the loss. You are grieving the life that once was and the life you thought would be. Whether you’re in a state of shock, pissed off at the world, or ashamed for being fooled, your feelings are valid.
Let go of the need to define yourself as a failure. When you are going through a breakup remember that you are not a failure, the relationship failed. When healing, it’s important to create a buffer between your heart space and the situation. Even in distress, your mind is logical and it doesn’t take anything personally. It sees the situation for what it is. However, your heart is where your emotions live, good and bad. And when grieving, the heart really likes to focus on what’s missing. The trick is to get your heart to catch up to what your mind already knows. Remind yourself that you are a rockstar and you did the best you could. When you are going through failure, your ego is hit hard.
Remind your ego that what you have in this moment is enough, you are safe, and you are not what happened to you. Whether or not you think there is truth to this, it’s helpful to reflect on your past with a sense of compassion and grace. Healing comes in waves and I promise you it will get better with time. Until then, be kind to yourself. Think about how you would comfort a friend who was going through something difficult. I’m sure you would support them, give them a warm hug, and remind them how amazing they are. Do the same for yourself. Treat yourself like a dear friend. Remember, every flower that has ever bloomed had to go through a whole lot of dirt to get there. You too have to grow through what you go through.
Speaking of friendship, take a moment to befriend your past self. It’s easy to lose sight of the young boy or girl you once were — the individual who had big dreams, a strong sense of self, and confidence in his/her ability to trust in themselves. Your past self thinks she/he knows what the future holds and it doesn’t. Take your past self by the hand and remind him/her that he/she is safe and loved and that you have his/her back as you navigate life together. Your past self will thank you for allowing them to be seen, heard, and valued. You can also print a photo of your younger self and put it on your desk or mirror. By putting this photo where you will see it often, you will shift your mindset and mentally carry the best parts of your past with you into the present.
Instead of viewing failure as the end all be all, remind yourself that it’s a season and it’s temporary. Just like a tree loses its leaves in the fall and grows new leaves in the spring, you too are shedding what no longer serves you in order to make space for what’s to come. Honor what happened, reflect on the lessons you learned, and what you can do differently next time. There is so much knowledge to be gained in failing. Every step backward will eventually lead you forward and your pain has the ability to lead you to your purpose if you allow it to.
Lastly, always hold onto hope no matter how bleak the path is. You have so much love to give and people need to hear your story. Look at your failure as a chapter in your book of life. Once you have fully grieved (and please take all the time you need to do so), turn the page, and only look back to see how far you have come.
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Big hugs, Dana-Maxx Pomerantz
Happiness Coach and Founder of The Be Happy Project