That sounds obvious, but self-help gurus and business lecturers would have you believe otherwise. By pushing a “Failure leads to success” narrative, self-help culture tries to factor the pain out of failure, which is an inherently painful experience. It’s a well-intentioned sentiment, but it doesn’t make dealing with failure any more pleasant, and leaning on this narrative can leave us underprepared when we inevitably find ourselves facing setbacks.
In reality, one of the most important steps to moving forward and growing from failure is to accept the sharp emotions that arise in its wake. Approaching these feelings with curiosity, rather than judgment, is a powerful way to examine the roots of a failure so we can prevent the same patterns from repeating themselves. To help you become aware of your post-failure feelings, here are a few common emotions people experience, as well as how to approach them healthfully.
Feelings You May Experience In the Wake of Failure
We’re prone to forming idealized versions of our future selves that depend on our achieving a certain goal to become reality. Letting go of these versions of ourselves because we have failed is not only painful but also frightening; it can throw our lives into uncertainty and shake our sense of who we are as individuals. Remember that our visions for ourselves can still become reality, we may just need to reevaluate how to arrive there. It may not be via the path we originally intended (or maybe it will be!), but don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board and find out.
Our culture has instilled in us a tendency to judge ourselves harshly in the wake of failure. But self-directed criticisms like “I’m not good enough” aren’t helpful and only serve to cause us additional and unnecessary distress. They’re also not true. There are many reasons why we might fall short of achieving a specific goal, many of which are guaranteed to be out of our control. Realize this whenever you notice you’re speaking hurtfully to yourself and choose to show yourself compassion instead.
We may become so identified with our idealized vision of our future self that we feel entitled to that version of reality. So when a failure throws a wrench in our plans, it’s not uncommon to it’s not uncommon for us to react indignantly. We should observe this reaction whenever we sense it arising and be wary of the temptation to pin our failures on others. Doing so can cause our egos to snowball into something that deflects pain and stunts the growth of our character.
A Desire To Escape
Having a scoop of Rocky Road or watching a few episodes of your favorite Korean drama can help break the post-failure spell of rumination, if only for a few minutes. But be careful that one scoop doesn’t turn into a half-gallon, or that one episode doesn’t turn into a week-long binge session. If you ever notice yourself engaging in this pattern of behavior, remember not to make yourself feel bad for slipping up. But also consider that you may be putting off sifting through the aftermath of failure. Take time to reflect on where this escapist impulse comes from, and take note of what in your life may be enabling it. Allow yourself to reset, then gently encourage yourself to be strong and confront your failure head-on.
Growing Stronger Every Day
At Oats Overnight, we believe that leaning into learning is the recipe for personal growth and success. Embracing setbacks and growing from our mistakes is how we got started as a company and how we continue to improve each day. We invite you to join us by pursuing your own goals as the strongest version of yourself, fueled by a premium breakfast and backed by a community whose members help one another overcome the challenges of daily life.
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