DJ Spigener, MA, LMHC
Failure is an unavoidable aspect of our lives. We can formulate the “best laid plans” and try to account for every possibility, but the truth remains that each of us will struggle with disappointment and unmet expectations throughout our lives. So how can we begin to push past failure and avoid getting discouraged?
1. View Failure As A Learning Opportunity
Failing at a task or challenge we have been faced with can lead us to feel inept or hopeless. But if we view that failure as simply a step towards our eventual success, it can instead enable us to maintain a sense of hope and motivation to keep working towards our ultimate goals. This process of trial and error can oftentimes be necessary for us to learn and grow on our way to success! As the genius inventor Thomas Edison once stated, “I have not failed, I’ve only found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
2. Don’t Use a Failure as An Excuse to Beat Yourself Up
When we fall short of expectations, whether those expectations come from ourselves or others, it can be tempting to berate or degrade ourselves in efforts to provide new motivation or as a punishment for failure. Think about the last time you made a notable mistake – What did you say to yourself in response? For many of us, these mental statements (or self-talk) can be highly negative and critical. To overcome this trap, try taking yourself out of the situation, and imagining a close friend in your place. Would you say such hurtful and critical words to that close friend? If not, then why say them to yourself?
3. Don’t Dwell on Failure, Focus on What is In Front of You
The practice of mindfulness centers on being fully present in the current moment, without dwelling on past regrets or allowing anxiety about our future to overwhelm us. It encourages us to look inward, to observe our thoughts and emotions without judgment, and to be intentional in our choices and actions. By regularly using mindfulness techniques (such as meditation, breathing exercises, daily journaling, and practicing gratitude), we can remain focused on moving forward and overcoming failure, rather than allowing the past to haunt us forever.