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3 STEPS to Dealing with Failure

“Failure is a necessary ingredient for success”

Bran Ferren

When you fail, it hurts. It may feel like a whole wall just collapsed on you. It is sore. It makes some people feel angry. It makes some feel sad, heartbroken, shuttered, disappointed and all sorts of feelings.

It creates self-doubt, uncertainty about how to proceed with life, especially if you are someone who has never failed before.

I have had my share of experiencing failure and I continue to fail. I live by a quote from the book The Alchemist that says

“The secret to life, though, is to fail seven times and get up eight times”

Paulo Coelho

I shared some of my experiences of failure as an undergraduate student in Chemical Engineering at UCT in another blog. You may want to read more about this here

Today I want to share 3 possible steps to follow in dealing with failure, academic and otherwise.

They are:

  1. Acknowledge and embrace your thoughts and feelings about your experience of failure;
  2. Take charge to process your thoughts and feelings about your experience of failure;
  3. Pick up positive lessons from the experience and let it go.

I believe in the power of these three steps. I have seen it work over and over again for students that I have coached. Let me elaborate on each.

Acknowledge and embrace your thoughts and feelings

As human beings, we have minds. Part of our minds hold our thoughts and feelings and these two carry energy – they have a vibration. Your thoughts and feelings about failure, when unacknowledged, may lead you to store negative energy in your mind and body.

As the saying goes, you cannot address what you do not acknowledge. Therefore, the first step to dealing with failure is to acknowledge that it has happed and to embrace that it came with specific thoughts and feelings that are likely to be negative. I don’t know whether there is anyone who experiences their failure as pleasurable. I am yet to meet such a being.

Take charge to process your thoughts and feelings

The experience of failure carries with it negative thought and feelings/emotions that carry with them negative energy. If you do not take charge to process them, they may have negative consequences on your well-being.

Taking charge means being practical about processing them, and this you can do yourself or through the help of professionals, including life coaches and therapists. The secret to taking charge is to find a safe way to express your thoughts and feelings so that they lose power to control your destiny. Underline the word “safe”.

Pick up positive lessons from the experience and let it go

I call the process of picking up lessons from failure and other negative experiences ‘re-contextualisation’. By simply learning to focus on the positives and potential lessons from a negative experience, you may have a different perspective on it, of why it happened and why it needed to happen. Once you can learn something about it, once your mind has made sense of it, you may then consciously decide to let it go. It is in your best interest to learn to let things go.

And in the end…

We all fail at some point in life. I worry about people who never fail at anything, especially students, because later in life they do not know how to pick themselves up from difficult situations. Yes you may not fail as a student, but you may later fail in business or in marriage. Take failure as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Regardless of the area in which you will experience failure, the 3 steps I share here may help you move forward.

Failure is a painful yet necessary step to your growth. Embrace it. Learn from it. Rise above it, because you can.

I wish you love, strength and healing.

Your coach


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