What to do When You Feel Like a Failure

I’ve been thinking a lot about failure lately.

resilient_05-2016It tends to be something that we don’t like to think about too much. It is easy to think that other people are perfect, that they don’t make mistakes. The reality is that we all fail sometimes.

In fact, I can’t imagine how it would be possible to not fail because there is so much that were faced with on a daily basis—literally hundreds of micro-decisions to make in a day: what to eat, what to wear, what time to get up, whether or not to exercise, whether or not to answer the phone, what to work on first, etc. I don’t know about you, but I get hundreds of emails each day, have lots of different things I need to respond to, and then I go home and have a whole host of items to deal with there, too, whether it’s catching up with my children, caring for my dog, or spending tie with my husband.

Whether pleasurable or draining, the activities we do and micro-decisions we make each day can wear on us and take us away from being in the here and now.

It is next to impossible to glide through the hundreds of daily decisions smoothly without failures and mistakes.

Then, there are the bigger decisions like where to send your kids to school, where to work, where to live, whether to stay in your job or leave, whether to change your career direction or stay with what you know, how best to spend your summer, how to get healthier, how to deal with aging parents, how to get along better with your partner, which way to vote, how to best deal with midlife crisis, ad infinitum… There are innumerable issues that make it hard for us to stay present so we can make sound decisions. I’m actually surprised we make as many good decisions as we do, given all the stimuli!

With all this information swirling around us, we hold ourselves to impossibly high standards. It’s easy to look at somebody else’s outsides and think they have it all figured out (and we don’t). It’s as if you are juggling balls made of glass, feeling like if you drop one it will break. That’s the way that many of us feel much of the time. Like, the cost of failure is too great; everything is precious. This is a sure way to run ourselves into the ground.

The reality is that we’re much more resilient than we think. We drop a ball, and even if it breaks, we can recover. We all have things that haven’t worked out, that have crashed and burned, that we have failed at. Whether you have been fired from a job, left a marriage that crumbled, or not made progress you’d hoped for on a cherished dream, you are part of the human experience. You are not alone.

This is where entrepreneurs have a bit of an advantage over the rest of us.

Entrepreneurs are expected to fail, with a majority of their ventures failing miserably within five years of launch. Entrepreneurs encounter—and embrace—failure on a daily basis. Over time, the pain of each failure lessens, as they build the plane as while flying it.

Entrepreneurs navigate by making the best decision they can in the moment, and then having the confidence that they will be able to deal with any fall-out that comes from it.

Regardless of whether or not you are an entrepreneur, embracing failure and recovering quickly are skills you can learn. Regardless of what has happened to you in the past, decisions you’ve made and failures you’ve had, you always have the choice to be present in this moment, knowing in the deepest part of your being that you can truly make something wonderful happen in your life by changing your thinking.

Somewhere along the way, someone introduced me to the idea of stinkin’ thinkin’. The more I learn about, and witness, how people manifest what they want in their lives, the more I understand and embrace this simple concept.

Change Your Life for the Better

To change your life for the better, it is as simple (and as hard) as changing the way you think. When you find yourself berating yourself for a perceived or actual mistake or failure, thinking that your life or career is over, that there’s nothing good out there for you, that life has passed you by, or that you screwed up, notice how you are talking to yourself and consciously shift your self-talk (even if you don’t believe it in the moment—it doesn’t matter).

Talk to yourself kindly and see how your results change.

Regardless of your spiritual orientation, opening your (metaphorical) arms to the universe expecting it to provide for you and show you the way shifts the tide of your life. Consistent positive self-talk shifts your feelings, which changes your belief systems over time, which shifts your actions, which then transforms your outcomes. It is a chain reaction, simple to talk about but not so simple to implement because it takes consistency. Trust me, it’s worth the effort.

You have this one precious life and, with the power of your mind and your attention, the ability to make it what you want…even if you are like most of us and fail every single day.

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