Failure is when we are unable to reach or meet a desirable outcome of which we expected to achieve. In a nutshell failure hurts. We may feel like we have let ourselves and others down and often we feel vulnerable and exposed. We may have thoughts like I am not good enough and become self critical or embarrassed. While it is important not to get to down on your- self there is benefit in taking some time out to feel the pain of failure. Staying with and feeling the disappointment, sadness and even the fear of maybe I will never be good enough to succeed, are part of the healing and growing process.
Unfortunately most of us don’t stay with our deeper emotions around failure, rather we dash off into self criticism, anger or blaming others in the hope that these deeply uncomfortable feelings will go away. The bad news is feelings around the experience of failure (like all feelings around memorable experiences positive or negative) do not just go away, because we push them away. Although it may feel like they have gone, in reality we have just disowned our deeper feelings by pushing them out of our awareness. Now they have the power to become the unconscious driver of our behaviour that may lead to further pain and failure.
What can we do when we fail?
Emotions move fast especially when they are strong and overwhelming and it takes courage to stay with difficult feelings that arise when we fail. To effectively work through failure we firstly need to slow down. Breathing is a great resource right at our finger tips that is often overlooked as too simple. It is however an effective way to calm down so we can be with our emotions and feelings in a more productive way. We can then reach out and speak to others, journal or spend some time reflecting on what we did well and what we need to do better next time. When we feel into and spend some time making meaning around our failure, we are rewarded with resilience. We learn to trust ourselves in our ability to overcome set backs, we learn that failure is not who we are, rather we just weren’t ready at that point in time for that part of our journey. We learn self acceptance, patience, persistence and flexibility. In essence we build our character, a solid base to jump from in our next attempt to have a go, even if we may fail!