How our failures can make us a success

March 12, 2018

The concept of failure is a real stigma in our society. From childhood, the looks we receive when we fail or make a mistake are very similar to those we receive when we misbehave. Then we ourselves start to look at ourselves in the same way. Instead of being happy to find a wrong path and discard it, we get angry with ourselves. We curse ourselves and sadness fills us, as if that were the right emotion for the moment.

This way of dealing with failure makes us mess up more, because those negative thoughts don’t leave us any room to learn from our errors.

In addition, when we don’t understand failure as something positive, we usually close our minds, abandon the projects we had in hand and tell ourselves that we are useless. How are we going to benefit from what these errors want to teach us if we react in this way? How are we going to learn if we try to just erase everything that has happened?

People who don’t accept failure or who don’t know how to get some sort of benefit from it are usually people with low self-acceptance. They tend to seek perfectionism in everything they do, and when they realize that they aren’t perfect and their expectations are not met, they just give up on everything and fall into absolute hopelessness.

This attitude serves little purpose and only means that people with high potential and good skills stop trying, for fear of failing again. This attitude just keeps them in their comfort zone and they never grow.

Man facing failure

Growing through failure

The person who never fails is the one who never tries. He just stays where he knows the risks are minimal. But the truth is that these people long for a more exciting life, with challenges or goals to attain to. It isn’t even that necessary to fulfill those dreams or succeed…

…What is more necessary than the objective is the path itself, waking up each morning with the necessary motivation to try to achieve our goals.

When we stop trying for fear of failing then we are already embracing that failure. In this way we may feel less pain and stress due to the absence of the anxiety that we would feel in a situation that challenges our abilities. But, if we are willing to go through the challenges and the anxiety, life will acquire a much more vivid color.

Failure, far from being a door to the abandonment of our dreams, must be the signal that tells us that we are growing. It should be an indicator that we are exploring new paths and that, thanks to this, we will improve and mature and develop our capabilities.

It’s true that failure is not something we can control. The truth is that, if you want to achieve success, you have to assume that you are going to make mistakes along the way. What is under our control is the ability to persevere whatever may happen, and that is when we can invest our energies and get really positive results.

How to manage failure?

Failure is not the end. It is just an intermediate step. It is the indisputable movement towards success or triumph in that particular area of our lives. Therefore, failure has more advantages than disadvantages. All we have to do to realize this is to be aware that failure does not define us. It simply means that on the next occasion we’ll have to do things a different way.

Man jumping

To learn to deal with our failures better, the first step is a complicated, yet important, one – to accept what we cannot change. We shouldn’t keep complaining or grumbling about the cards that have been dealt to us. Those cards aren’t going to be dealt again, we just need to start another “game”. Regardless of the result, that hand of cards doesn’t define us, nor are we always going to be playing with the same cards. We are not defined by our thoughts nor by our conduct. We are much more than all that. We are complex beings, constantly changing, learning and looking for opportunities to improve.

We are valuable beings, regardless of our mistakes, and nobody has the value that we have.

Adjusting expectations

The next step is to adjust our expectations. We have to be very clear about the “real me” and the “ideal me”. The “real me” is the person that I am, nothing more, nothing less. I am shaped by my personal characteristics, abilities, virtues, defects and limitations. I know what I’m like, I know just what I can and can’t do or achieve.

The “ideal me” is the person I think I am, but in reality I am not. If I have very high expectations about myself and believe more in my “ideal me” than in my “real me”,  then I’ll suffer when reality shows me I must adjust those expectations.

To do this I must always realise who I am, bearing in mind that I am neither better nor worse than any other person.

Finally, learn to tolerate the frustrations that life brings us. Our projects and dreams don’t always go as you would want them to, but that doesn’t mean we are defeated. We just need to accept what we don’t like, including our own mistakes. Let’s learn from them, because what we get out of them will be what fuels our hope to keep moving forward.