Bouncing Back After A "Failure"
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Failure happens to us all. Minor failures like getting rejected for a second date or flunking a test are disheartening. Bigger failures like losing a job, the end of a relationship or a business decision that goes wrong can be devastating. Failure can be a major blow and the fall-out can last for a long time. We lose confidence in ourselves and our abilities. Our hope for the future might fade and we are reluctant to take on new opportunities. The failure might affect our relationships and even send us spiralling into depression. Then we become even further away from success.
But it doesn't have to be this way.
We can use failure as a catalyst for our personal growth and future success, as long as we have the right techniques.
Here are 6 steps to bounce back after a failure, and make it work in your favor.
Step 1 - SEPARATE SELF FROM EXPERIENCE
We tend to start thinking negatively about ourselves when we experience a failure. When something doesn't go our way, it is a natural response to try and work out where we went wrong. The first point of blame is often ourselves.
When I consider my failed relationship, my first thought might be, 'I am unlovable.'
When I look back at my failed business venture, I may think, 'I am useless.'
But if we attribute our failure to something that we convince ourselves is inherently wrong with us, we cut off any future chance of success. A person who believes they are unlovable will reject future relationships and be mistrustful of those that genuinely love them. A person who believes they are useless will never be motivated to get themselves back on their feet to try a new business or apply for a job.
The fact is that one event rarely reflects who we actually are. The failure is likely to have been caused by many different factors, some that are to do with us and others that are not. When we are not sure who we are, or if we have low-self esteem, we might take the failure extremely personally. But if we are honest with ourselves, we know that we have also had many victories and successes. To write ourselves off as unable to achieve or fundamentally flawed is simpy inaccurate.
The important thing to remember is, 'This experience does not define who I am.'
Step 2 - SEPARATE PAST FROM EXPERIENCE
Another natural response to failure is 'pattern identification'. This can be a useful self-development tool to create success (discussed further below) but can also have devastating effects. Whether it is helpful or harmful depends on our emotions at the time we use it.
After the shock and emotional intensity of a failure, 'pattern identification' is disastrous. We call to mind all our previous failures and replay them over and over in our heads. We forget all our previous successes and develop a warped picture of our lives as failure after failure after failure. This can send us into a deep depression.
When our emotions are still raw, we should avoid analyzing our past. The key thing to remember is, 'This experience is not representative of my life. I have had successes in the past.'
Step 3 - SEPARATE FUTURE FROM EXPERIENCE
Looking to the future when we are upset about our failure is a recipe for disaster. Our mood taints our view, makes us doubt our dreams and visions and convinces us that we are destined for a life characterized by failure. This is simply not true, as the way we think, feel and act are the most powerful indicators of how our future will turn out. These things are not fixed, which means that our fate is not fixed either.
For healthy personal growth, we must keep in mind, 'This experience does not determine my success in the future. My choices do.'
Step 4 - MOURN EXPERIENCE
Once we have made sure that our thoughts are healthy, using Steps 1 through 3, we can begin to mourn our failure. This is a very important step. Hoping and planning for success and it all going wrong can be very disappointing and upsetting. When we let ourselves honestly feel these emotions, we might find our thoughts becoming destructive. That's normal, but it's a destructive habit that we have to break for our future well-being and success.
If you are familiar with meditation, you will notice this is similar. In meditation, all thoughts that arise are let go as we bring our attention back to our breath or the thing we are meditating on.
Here, our thoughts are brought back to this statement:
'I hoped for success, and didn't get it. That hurts.'
Step 5 - EVALUATE EXPERIENCE
Once we have processed our feelings about our failure, we can now analyze it without our emotions skewing our logic and problem-solving skills.
We can now go through the process of pattern identification, which means that we go through this event and other similar events we have experienced, trying to find connections and similarities between the events. By doing this we can work out what actions of ours might have contributed to our failure, and work out what we can do differently in the future to facilitate our sucess. Try to look at what happened objectively, as if you were looking at someone else's life rather than your own. The more emotional distance you can get at this stage, the better.
'This is what I can learn for next time.'
Step 6 - REINSPIRE SELF TO CREATE FUTURE EXPERIENCE
Once you have worked out how you can do better next time, it's time to jump back on the wagon. Connecting with your passions and your dreams can inspire you to seek your success again. Visions of how you plan to succeed in the future, coupled with the new insight you gained from your failure, will help you gain enough confidence to try again.
'I am ready to try again.'
As part of this Step, you may decide to watch inspirational videos or read motivational material. Here are some inspiring quotes about failure from successful people:
'I've not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that don't work.' -Thomas Edison
'It's fine to celebrate success but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.' - Bill Gates
'It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.' - J. K. Rowling
'Mistakes are the portals of discovery.' - James Joyce
- Iman Mohiki
Quotes from brainyquote.com