“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.”
― Winston S. Churchill
Even the most successful people fail occasionally – setbacks and letdowns will come along eventually. When failure hits, whether a job loss, demotion, physical defeat, or something else, properly understanding how to deal with failure is vital to thriving through that storm.
The Importance of Dealing With Failure
After the tough blow of not reaching a goal, you need to deal with that failure to continue on the trajectory toward success. If you don’t get a handle on the negative emotions resulting from your failure, it could impact your relationships, happiness, decision-making skills, ability to deal with future setbacks, and, most of all, create self-doubt.
Self-doubt is the fear of failure, and when broken down to its most simple form, is negativity. It’s that voice in your head that is constantly running in the background that continues to reinforce limiting beliefs. And how do you combat anything negative? You flip the script and turn it positive by changing the story you’re telling yourself.
Ready to explore how to deal with failure in a way that will change your life? Check out my top six strategies below!
1. Identify Your Feelings
Some people choose to ignore their feelings post-failure. I get it – sometimes it’s hard to deal with these uncomfortable feelings. But they shouldn’t be avoided. Give yourself permission to feel those emotions and name them.
Does your failure make you frustrated? Angry? Disappointed? Resentful? After recognizing your emotions, try to understand why you feel this way and what you can learn from these feelings.
Expert tip: Remember that thoughts and feelings are not always facts. During this step, set truth apart from illusion. While it’s fine to recognize adverse emotions, don’t fall into the trap of believing a negative core belief like, “I am a failure,” or “I’m never going to make it.” These are not facts – they are deceitful thoughts that will do nothing except block you from achieving your goals.
2. Be Honest With Yourself
Next, be transparent with yourself about your failure. While there are times that you may have done everything correctly and still not reached your goal, there may be other times when your actions played a role in your failure. If the latter is the case, hold yourself accountable for your mistakes.
For example: Perhaps you applied for a job you wanted and didn’t get the position. However, you filled out the application quickly and were late for your interview. These two actions probably relate to why you didn’t get the job. Own your role in your failure so you can do better next time.
3. Don’t Let the Failure Define You
When experiencing a personal or professional letdown, some people let that failure become their new identity. Never associate a single defeat as a definition of who you are as an individual. If you fall into this mentality, you will adopt a “victim” mentality instead of a thriving mindset, which will crush your chances of success.
Exercise: Create a list of your core values, “whys,” and your other life roles. This exercise will help remind you of your unique value and the worth you bring to the table every day.
4. Recognize Silver Linings
Next, look for the silver linings in your failure. In my book, Thriving in the Storm: Nine Principles to Help You Overcome Any Adversity, I discuss countless silver linings I’ve found throughout life – some came from life’s disappointments, my past baggage, and personal failures.
But I’ve come to learn that there is a silver lining to almost every situation – especially in the midst of failure. Look hard enough, change your perception, or just view things with an open mind, and you will find those silver linings. Instead of dwelling on the negative, ask yourself, “What did I learn? What was the lesson? And how can I benefit from this?”
5. Channel Your Frustration in Positive Ways
Instead of drowning in your defeat, find ways of using your emotions to find solutions and overcome your failure. Create an action plan once you have figured out what you should have done differently the first time.
In our previous example, I talked about missing out on a job due to a lousy application and arriving late for an interview. Instead of getting angry and labeling yourself a screw-up, review these actions and plan to take different steps next time.
Bonus tip: I recommend going above and beyond correcting previous mistakes. Find new ways to re-engage with your goals. How can you fix your past missteps AND improve things next time?
6. Give Yourself Grace
Last – but certainly not least – give yourself grace when dealing with failure. No one succeeds 100% of the time. Here are a few ways to engage in self-compassion instead of shaming yourself and falling into the “victim” mentality.
- Remember your past successes. Write down a list of things you’ve done right!
- Allow yourself to practice a few stress-management techniques like journaling and meditation.
- Participate in an activity or hobby that brings you joy and confidence.
- Seek support from a coach who can help you overcome your failures and find success.
The Bottom Line
Failure is never fun. But with these six strategies, you can realign your thinking and find ways to overcome any setback!
For more information on how to deal with failure, remember to order a copy of Thriving in the Storm: Nine Principles to Help You Overcome Any Adversity.
Don’t have much time to read? Listen to one of my podcasts instead! You’ll find topics ranging from hardening your mindset, thriving through trauma, overcoming adversity in your career, and more.