Life sucks when you fail. We always want to succeed and do well in everything we attempt, but unfortunately we will fail. Let’s find out more about why failure is good for your mental health and how you can use failure to your advantage.
Ok so I am 100% sure that everyone reading this post has had one of those moments in life where something meant so much to them but ended up in failure. It could have been something as simple as a deadline at work, achieving a certain grade at school, or even a relationship. These moments can really bring you down if you let it. Last week I had an important event that I spent a lot of time researching, working on, and investing my time emotionally into. And when the moment came – unfortunately I let it pass and I failed to take the action I needed to. I was bitter and disappointed – but not for long. After reflecting and moving forward, I brought myself back to the fact that failure is part of life. So here are some of the things I reflected on to help you and I for our next failure.
Failure can lead to success, if you embrace it
This is a classic line that actually makes a lot of sense. If you fail at something, but then it means that you work harder or smarter to achieve that goal the next time, isn’t it all worth it? And technically doesn’t this mean that you didn’t fail at all? What I am saying is – was that event actually a failure, or was it part of the successful event that occurred later? You be the judge. The only way it is a true failure is if you never seek to achieve a result again. So just by getting up and getting back on with life, this is already making you a success. You might like to read ‘Face your fear… and jump’ to help inspire you.
Failing something means that you tried
You failed, so what? At least you gave it a go. Would you rather have stayed home and done nothing, only to later regret not trying? Or would you rather find out that it wasn’t meant to be and know that you gave it your all. And even if you didn’t give it all, at least you know that next time if you do give it your all, or change some of your actions you might get the result you were after. When we fail we feel like we are incompetent or not worthy; but I can tell you that this is not the case. We love to see people have a go; we don’t love those that sit on the sidelines and watch. Be interesting, be bold, and give it a go. And if you fail again, that is cool, because you know that as a society there is nothing more that we love other than seeing someone fail, again and again… only to eventually succeed. Why not make this person you?
Failure is our greatest teacher
This is something I really want you to focus on, because it’s something that is helping me massively. Throughout my early life failure wasn’t really something I was accustomed to; so when it did happen in life, I didn’t really have any of the skills to be able to cope. For those that have watched the latest Star Wars – Episode 8 (SPOILER ALERT), Yoda sits with Luke Skywalker and explains to him ‘The greatest teacher, failure is’. This is so empowering. If we didn’t fail at anything, we wouldn’t learn anything. If we were born with everything we needed to know, and all the skills we needed to have, and all the relationships we needed to cultivate, life would not be worth living. It would not be life; it would be like watching a movie of someone else’s life. We need to be able to make our own choices and fail, succeed and all of the in-between.
Sometimes failure means that you are on the wrong path
Ok this is not an easy one to swallow at first – but it needs to be said. Ask yourself if you are actually on the right path. Do you truly believe that whatever you are trying to push is something that you actually need or want, or is it not meant to be? Many analytical people like to be on a path, knowing where they are going; with the secure day to day routines and goals – and they don’t like to go sideways or backwards. I only know this because I am one of these people. But sometimes we need to change our path, we need to change our goals, and potentially change our lives. Were you in a relationship that recently failed (read Why Tinder is bad for your mental health) and you are persisting to make it work? Maybe it is failing because you are not compatible? Only you truly know the answer to this. This failure could be an awesome event if it means that you change your path to one that better aligns with where you want to be in the future. You can do it!
Failure builds character and strengthens your mental health in the long run
It is so counter-intuitive to believe that failure actually helps build your character and strengthens your mental health, but it is true. If we can learn to fail and get back up again and again, you are going to have an awesome life. You are going to fail, but learn from those failures and make changes that put your life in a better position. If you want everything to go your way, and to keep winning without failing, then you are in for a long hard life – because you will fail, and when it happens you won’t be able to accept it. Change the meaning of failure from something negative into a positive such as – ‘failure means that I learnt what to do (or not to do)’; or ‘failure has taught me that I need to work harder’; or ‘failure in this relationship means that I wasn’t really that committed and I will commit more next time – or maybe look for a person with more congruent values’.
You weren’t the only person to fail
That’s right! Believe it or not, you weren’t the first, and I can guarantee that you won’t be the last person to fail. Every day millions and millions of people fail at something. Why do you need to be so hard on yourself if you fail? If you were talking with your best friend and they recently failed at something, would you try and cheer them up or would you bring them down? Exactly. You need to read more about how to be your own best friend. Go out and fail, I guarantee that in most cases, a month later – you and everyone else won’t remember ‘that time you failed’.
Maybe you didn’t fail
For all of the reasons discussed above, maybe you didn’t actually fail. It is important that we look at the big picture and realize that the events of today, this week, this month or this year might only be part of a long term success where you are going to have many ‘failures’ along the way. If we can choose to see them as a learning experience and part of the journey of success ahead, we will be happier than ever without having to ‘succeed’ at each single opportunity or event.
Time to go out and fail!
Get back out there and go out and fail. I guarantee eventually you are going to have success, so embrace the failure as part of the journey and have some fun. To my readers – thanks for all of your support and for commenting and sharing the posts. My blog is still relatively new so please share this post, I will be extremely grateful. And please comment on any failures that you have encountered in your life that have led to success or happiness, I would love to hear from you and I am sure others will benefit from your story.
About the author – Stef – Mental Health Advocate
Stef is a mental health advocate who dedicates much of his free time to improving his own and others mental health. Read more about Stef’s story and why he is so passionate about mental health, wellness and positive living.