Life has its ups and downs, for sure; we have all experienced the highs and elations of success: graduating high school or college, getting our driver’s license, marriage, babies and birthdays, work promotions, sports trophies and awards for excellence. Photographs proudly displayed and certificates upon the wall remind us of these moments to be highlighted and fondly remembered.
However, what of the times when things didn’t go so well? When we didn’t make the grade? When our attempts yielded few results? Failure can feel absolutely devastating, and even heart-breaking: the romantic rejection, the failed exam, the sixth attempt to pass the driving test; the months and months of unacknowledged job applications, and then, finally, the job interviews that only result in further rejection.
These experiences can be very difficult to bear, especially when we take them personally. They can be demoralizing and pull us down into a pit of despair, if we haven’t learned how to see failure in a positive way.
Life is short and we might as well learn how to navigate its waters in an effective and self-loving way. We might as well enjoy the ride, right? Here are some ideas on how to deal with failure in a positive way:
Every cloud has a silver lining. How many times has a seeming disaster turned out to be the precursor to a marvelous happening? Does this scenario strike a chord with you?
A guy falls down a step and breaks his ankle. A stranger comes to his aid. She turns out to be the love of his life.
Corny maybe, but you get the idea. Each time you “fail” at something, try to look for the silver lining. There is a positive gain in there somewhere.
There is no such thing as failure; everything is learning. Try to learn from your mistakes and failures, and rather than judge yourself as “worthless,” choose to be gentle and kind to yourself. Have compassion, as we all go through this, and ask yourself, “What can I do differently next time? What can I learn from this?”
Failure is life’s greatest teacher: in order to reach our potential, we cannot fear failure. If we accept it without judgment as part of life, and a valuable way to build experience, we are better prepared to take the big risk we need to take in order to achieve big success.
Practice Gratitude for the good and the “bad.”
As Jellaludin Rumi (translation by Coleman Barks) says:
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
So…treat your failures as honorable guests, and “be grateful for whatever comes”: “each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
By reframing your failures as learning opportunities or as a precursor to some greater joy yet to come, you can learn to see failure as a simple step along the path to success. When you judge it less negatively, you can deal with it with more grace and ease, and find yourself able to move on much quicker to the next adventure, which awaits you.