Failure Helps Build Resilience

We are imperfect beings which means that we are going to fail in our lives again and again. How we learn to deal with failure is what matters most … 

Failure is life’s greatest teacher, and he truth is that most successful people have failed numerous times … we just don’t see their failures, only their successes. 

In many ways “failure” is a self-inflicted limitation because in reality “failure” only becomes a failure when we lose the determination, strength and will to keep trying. 

As the famous basket-ball player Michael Jordan says:   “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

Proof that in many ways then, failure is only failure when you give up trying again. If you ever learnt to ride a bicycle or drive a car, you’ll know what I mean … you only failed if you gave up trying and learning.  It’s useful therefore to see failure as a steppingstone toward experience, knowledge and a deeper understanding of yourself. As an invaluable experience.

AND … the good news is that failing really helps to build resilience. The more we fail, the more resilient we become and the more we grow and mature and reach a deeper understanding about our lives and why we’re doing the things that we’re doing. Recovering from failure is where our focus should be: 

  • The first step is in recovery is understanding that failure is unavoidable and in fact advisable. 
  • The second is to acknowledge the importance of it and shut out or down the criticism from others. 
  • The third is to allow yourself to feel bad for a bit – don’t avoid the pain – and lean into it so that you can shape a better version of yourself.
  • Now, use those learnings as leverage to try again. But before you do, revisit your goals and your plan… maybe is there a SMARTER way? What else do you need? Spend time analysing how and why you failed and then create an action plan for the way forward and CHOOSE how you are going to respond. 

If the “failure” is a big and emotionally painful (maybe even feels embarrassing or shameful) – one that really challenges your self-esteem – then find the help you need. Finding the right therapist or coach for you could lead to many major breakthroughs. Or carefully select someone you respect, admire and trust as a sounding board. But remember that in the end, it’s YOU who will start the process of coming to terms with and internalising the learnings from your failures. You will need to own it and own up to it in order to move on. And remember, that a failure is actually only a failure when you give up trying. 

-Written by Gabi Lowe

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