I tripped, stumbled, and fell on my face but I also got up, dusted myself off and learned a few things along the way. I also learned to redefine these terms for myself and I’m here to help you do the same with some things I’ve learned along the way. For starters, an attempt doesn’t guarantee a win and that is a hard lesson to learn, but a necessary one as it builds confidence. Confidence is about trusting in yourself and having the ability to cope when things go wrong, which they inevitably will. The truth is that there is strength in failure and if we can each reshape how we approach and deal with failure, we have so much to gain. So how do you shift your definition of failure and unlock confidence?
Reframe Your Beliefs
When you feel as though you’ve “failed” at something try reframing your beliefs to shift your mindset. Are you the type to get caught up in failure and completely miss the opportunity to learn something? I’ve fallen into the trap of trying to diagnose the cause instead of seeking the cure for more than a time or two. Try to find the benefits in your previous attempts. Did you learn anything? Maybe even how not to do it? Are you better at it than when you started? Have you made adjustments so as to not make the same mistake twice? Take notice of your efforts and give yourself credit. Maybe you didn’t succeed in the way you thought you would, but if you learned something try to find value in that progress. It takes effort to try, so even if you haven’t landed it just the way you expected, try to see the good in what you have done. Positive thinking strategies can be a great place to start in seeing the value of your efforts and attempts, especially when it comes to a new task. Each attempt puts you one step closer to your goal.
Failure can have a spiral-type of effect on your life. When I lose, fail, or simply don’t succeed the way that I imagined I would, I have a tendency to spiral. Suddenly one failure turns on my mostly peaceful life and wreaks havoc; one moment I’m tripping and the next I’ve fallen on my face entirely. I’ve gone from a simple mistake to I’m a mistake and in an instant sometimes. So, how can you use fear-based thinking to your advantage? If you can’t help from spiraling, go to your worst fear. Consider the worst thing that could possibly happen. What is the honest likelihood of your imaginary scenario playing out? Statistically speaking, you’re imagining something extraordinarily impossible 9 out of 10 times, trust me – I spiral too. And even if it were to happen, exactly as you’ve imagined it, would you be worse off or the same as you are now? Consider if this hypothetical situation is rational or not. Use the evidence and facts to inform an intellectual decision rather than a rash one. Likely you’ll realize that this scenario is highly unlikely, survivable, or isn’t that bad. If I apply to that job and don’t get it but I still have my current job, then what’s the harm in putting myself out there? What’s the worst that could happen?
Give Yourself Grace
Choose to be kind to yourself. Rather than kicking yourself when you’re down try to see the good. Bullying or belittling yourself and all that you have accomplished over a failed attempt doesn’t serve you or your goals. If you can’t be kind to yourself, try finding a friend or coworker that may be compassionate. If you don’t feel like sharing, try a stress-relieving activity like exercise or meditation. I have a hard time giving myself positive self-talk so I try imagining that I’m talking to a friend instead of myself. As strange as it sounds, it’s easier for me to be nicer to strangers than myself when I feel the defeat of failure. Try thinking about how you would encourage a friend or motivate them to try again. Whatever happens, try to learn from it and acknowledge your feelings without shame. It’s easy to jump to the negative but allowing yourself some grace can give you room to grow.
We all fail at some point but it is our ability to cope and recover from that failure that informs our success. Progress can be slow and there are usually learning curves along the way. You can’t always control the path your life will take but you certainly have a choice in how you react especially when it comes to failure. The most important lesson here is that there is power in failure. Rather than get lost in the initial feelings of defeat and despair that failure can dredge up, it’s wiser (and often more efficient) to focus on the good. A conscious choice to see the good in a bad situation can be life changing, but it doesn’t make it any less challenging to adopt. Taking risks is essential to live a fulfilled life and failing is always an option. Will you choose to see the positive? What can you learn from the experience? How can you use this failure to your advantage?