I am thinking about the Leaving Results that come out today and for many families it will be such a happy time, a real celebration. But some people will fail to get the results they hoped for and there can be disappointment and a sense of failure.
Part of being human is being fallible, i.e. we are not perfect. Failing to get something, to do something, to achieve something is an unpleasant fact of life but failing is a universal experience, even for our heroes.
So while failure is unpleasant and at the same time unavoidable when it does happen how can we minimise its impact, get back on track towards building the future we want, become more resilient and stay well? Here are 6 ideas to think about
In the immediate aftermath when things go wrong don’t try and think better just let yourself be human, feel the sadness, disappointment, whatever that emotion might be. Take any hugs and support you can get and treat yourself, be kind to yourself and give yourself a day or two.
After a day or Two re-group. We know that how we think leads to how we feel and how we feel leads to how we act so get back to the thinking!
- Re-Think Failing
Start re-thinking what failing means. JK Rowling, Michael Jordan, Lady Ga Ga and many others have failed, often repeatedly, on their way to success. Success, whether in the Arts or Business or Science depends on learning and learning is a result of trying something and often failing. So start re-defining failing as a learning experience. What have you learned about yourself from this experience, how can you use that learning to help you move forward?
- Don’t Magnify: “I will never get over this – this is the worst thing in the world”
Magnifying or catastrophizing the event or its impact on you will not help you feel and act better! If you tell yourself this you will feel even worse and give up! It is true that you have failed to get what you have worked for and hoped for and that is a setback but it is not true that that there is no way forward, that this is as bad as it could be and that this is the worst thing in the world. Re-frame your thinking into something that helps you feel and act better and is true! “This is a disappointment and it will take me a while to get over this but I will find a way forward”
- Mind Reading and Giving Up Too Early: There’s no point trying again, it won’t work
Remember as a young child when you ever had to try, try and try again before you could do something? Riding a bike? Tying your shoelaces? Well the difficulties you face now may seem a lot more important but the same attitude applies! Don’t give up too early!!! The past does not predict the future. When things go wrong we tend to tell ourselves a story about what will happen next but remember you cannot know the future, “Mind reading” is unhelpful and can cause you to feel down. When you feel down you will not cope as well and it will take longer to get up and move forward.
Re-frame your thinking into something that helps you feel and act better so that you can start moving forward!
“The past does not dictate the future. This event does not dictate my future. I can influence my future, I can find people to help me do that”
- Putting Yourself Down; I’ve failed at this, there’s more evidence that I’m a Failure
So here is a big truth to hold onto and keep going back to – You are NOT what you do. One event does not define you. Failing to get the result you want, get that job, get that course, and reach your goal, while disappointing does not turn all of you into a failure. We all want to get our own version of success but remember you have to fail at something in order to learn how to succeed at something. You do not become your failure. It would be true and better to think “I’ve failed at this but failing at this is one small part of my life story, of who I am and who I will be – it’s not all of me. Now begin thinking better, feeling better and acting better so that you can start making the next part of your life what you want it to be.