By Crystal Hubbell, LPCC-S
I see many clients whose biggest issue stems from failure. This doesn’t surprise me, as I try to avoid failures in my own life too, as they are seemingly more painful than I would like to experience. When talking to my clients, I have deducted that for most of them, failure is something that they would like to avoid or experience if possible. In many of the clients experiencing failure; they personify the feelings into “they are a failure”. I have also experienced these feelings myself. I began to wonder, why when we experience a failure in an area, we become failures? So, in my research to help client’s not feel like failures, I have found some helpful tips to help us all realize that failure isn’t about failing, it is about success and the process of failure makes us a better person. Here is how it works.
In 2008 started a business called Road to Zion Books. This business was very successful, in the beginning. The money was pouring in, we had a great client base, great website, good webstore and it was working great. Then it wasn’t. It was broke, and it didn’t work, and it took us two years of being in denial before we went bankrupt and lost our business, home and everything. I failed. It was extremely painful, horrible and my poor kids lost their home too. I felt like a failure, I was a failure by all the definitions I knew of. But was I really a failure?
We often too many times think that we are what we do. If we fail at something, we ARE failures. I had to process this for some time, do some research into people who have failed, listen to my clients to come up with what I am about to tell you. I am a person, I am made up of more than my failures and failure is a process to our ultimate goals for success.
Think about Bill Gates. At age 17 he and his childhood friend started a business called Traf-O-Data. When showing a supervisor his product, it failed to perform. The business failed to get off the ground. If Bill Gates had thought of himself as a failure, and he gave up, where would he be today (Worker, N.D.).
I am sure you can think of failures in your own life that brought you closer to something you wanted or were striving for. Therefor, I have put together 3 reasons we should embrace failures.
1). Failure is our great teacher. When we fail, it is connected deeply to intense emotions. We are not likely to forget the failure and the accompanying lessons we learned. I learned not to take my business for granted, I learned that I need to do research for a well-run business. I learned that you can’t always depend on others to do things the way you want, and I also learned that I had too high expectations. These lessons have served me well in my other businesses which are being run successfully.
2). Failure is a word, an action, it is not who you are. Many times, we get caught up in labels and for those with low self-esteem, you are looking for excuses to put yourself down. I ate too much, therefore I am fat, I failed, so I am a failure, I didn’t sleep last night, I am an insomniac, I missed the note in the song, therefore I am a lousy singer. These are all mistruths. I like the quote, it is not our mistakes that define who we are; it is how we recover from those mistakes (Bennett, B., https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/bo_bennett_167552).
3) Failure inspires and motivates us. Yes, we can choose to be discouraged by failure, but why not be inspired by the knowledge that failure provides to us. The inspiration helps us make appropriate changes to our lives, character and growth to get closer to our goals. Failure is an opportunity to make things work. "A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do to endure the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying." B.F. Skinner
Socrates once said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Living an examined life is important; it’s what inspires growth! We should always reflect on our goals, our priorities, our relationships and the way that we treat others. This kind of self-awareness is what helps us reaches our highest potential. However, as someone who is constantly examining my own life, I have also found that there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. The right way pushes us on. It allows us to celebrate our successes but also gives way for improvement. The wrong way, however, can leave us feeling full of guilt, remorse and regret at the things we have said and done in the past. It is in these moments where learning to forgive ourselves becomes vital (Willis-McNeely, 2013).
Bennett, B. (2018). Brainy Quote. Retrieved from: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/bo_bennett_167552
Image. (2012). Retrieved from: http://www.200maction.com/wdr-from-failing-to-success/
Willis-McNeely, E. (2013, June 14). You Are Not Your Mistakes. Retrieved from Darling,: https://darlingmagazine.org/you-are-not-your-mistakes/
Worker, W. (n.d.). 48 Famous Failures Who Will Inspire You To Achieve. Retrieved from Wonderlust Worker: https://www.wanderlustworker.com/48-famous-failures-who-will-inspire-you-to-achieve/