Failure. This one, single word throws us off so much. Just the sight and sound of it makes many of us want to flinch and run the other direction. However, that’s the problem. We shouldn’t be scared of failure - instead, we should embrace it.
Everyone experiences failure at some point in their lifetime. It is perfectly okay and normal, and there is nothing to be afraid of or to get upset about! Here are some helpful tips on how to cope and deal with failure.
Remember: You’re not a failure just because you had a setback
We will all experience setbacks in life - whether it’s getting a bad grade on a test, not landing a job that you interviewed for, messing up in a presentation or forgetting a friend’s birthday. These things are all a part of living and being human.
When we have a setback, it is easy to start thinking that we will always fail in that area of our life. Then it starts to get into our heads that we are failures. However, we need to remind ourselves that just because we got one bad grade on a test or didn’t get the internship we were hoping for, that doesn’t mean we will do it again tomorrow. Which brings us to my next point: failure is a learning experience.
Failure is a learning experience
When there’s a setback, try asking yourself the following:
- What’s one thing that I can learn from this?
- How can I avoid making the same mistake again?
- What can I do differently next time?
We use failure to learn and to grow. We can use our mistakes, such as procrastinating on a project and then getting a bad grade on it, to do better next time. Usually the feeling of getting a bad grade reminds us that we do not want it to happen again, so we treat it as a learning experience. If we chose not to learn from our mistakes, then the same failures will continue to happen over and over again. Many people see failure as a terrible thing, when really it is valuable feedback for something that we can improve.
Accept how you feel
When we fail, we may feel anger, embarrassment, sadness or even frustration. Sometimes the emotions may be stronger for some than others. That is okay. Pushing failure away by distracting yourself, or covering it up with a smile will only make it worse. It is best to just accept the feeling because in the long run it will be easier to move on.
Celebrate your successes
Junior year I received a bad grade in a class. I studied very hard for the final because I knew it was going to be difficult, but I still did not do well. All of my other final grades turned out to be amazing. However, when my dad congratulated me on my grades, I said “what’s there to be proud of?”, because I was only focused on the single bad grade.
My dad reassured me not to be too hard on myself and to enjoy my successes. He is correct. When we fail, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Remember to celebrate your accomplishments, and rather than dwelling on the failure, use it to change things, make them better in the future and move forward.
We mostly only hear about people's successes. However, the road to these successes tends to have many setbacks. Michael Jordan summed it up with this quote: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 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.”
We must embrace our failures, and along the way they will lead to our success. Remember that it is okay to fail! We are not perfect, we are human.