Have you ever failed at anything? I’ve failed at lots of things – tests (I failed plenty of those!), friendships, getting dates and girlfriends, making athletic teams, getting parts in plays and solos for music things, fixing things around the house and have to call in an expert.
Failure happens to everyone at some level or another, some of them are spectacular failures and some of them are just run of the mill failures that no one thinks about.
But sometimes our failures keep us up at night because we start to believe that our failures are our identity…like, because I have failed, it means I am a failure.
If you ever hear that inside your head, resist it with all your might – you are not a failure.
Read it again this way: I am not a failure.
And yet, failures still happen. So, how do you handle it in life when you fail at something?
1. Seek out opinions from someone you trust…
…Even the things you don’t want to hear…
You need someone you love and trust to tell you things you don’t want to hear, things that will make you cringe, make you look in the mirror and take responsibility for the things that have happened. It’s no fun to hear those things, but they are vital for future situations.
…And the things you do want to hear
Having someone you love and trust encourage you and be your cheerleader is extremely helpful in getting you through the doldrums of failure. They can give you a perspective that you cannot see for yourself and help you maintain a positive attitude through your turmoil.
2. Separate your value from your work
You are not the sum-total of what you have or have not done. Separate the value of who you are from what you have done. Your identity is not based on what you do for a living, not based on your successes or failures, not based on what your kids have done or what your spouse as done. You are you…a human being, not a human doing or a human working who gets their value from what you’ve built or accomplished…or your failures and what has fallen apart.
3. Believe in future success
Just because you messed up before it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try again. This may sound a little bit like hokey self help, just speak it into existence. Speaking things into existence is reserved for God, the rest of us generally have to work our tails off to make things happen.
You have to believe that it will work, it will survive, but you have to get involved, you have to DO something about it.
Don’t allow a perceived failure to keep you from trying again…keep working at it, keep trying. Get in there and get involved and have faith that it will work.
4. Release the Need for Approval from Others
This is kind of like getting your value from the things that you do, but a little bit different. This is when you try to make others happy and define your success by how happy others are with you, and therefore if you are a failure it’s because people are not happy with you.
You have to release that. Your success does not depend on how people accept you. Release the need for approval from others…that way your emotional health doesn’t rise and fall based on fickle humans AND you will have a better opportunity to define what success and failure is for your situation.
5. Define what success or thriving or accomplishment looks like
One of the biggest problems with success/failure is that we don’t know what either of them look like. You have a poor definition of what success is so that when it comes you don’t celebrate it or when you have a setback or a failure, you don’t correct anything because you don’t know what success looks like anyway!
It’s like building a road with no destination point, why build the road? Define where you want to go, chart a way to get there and then do your best to go thrive!
Failure is terrible, no one likes to lose but in the end, instead of it being our identity, let it be the fuel to drive you to your future success and thriving.