Failure is a part of life, and it is usually accompanied by a range of emotions: these could be anger, embarrassment, guilt, and at times sadness as well. However, it is believed that these negative emotions can really affect your mental and physical well being. These feelings can be very uncomfortable for some of us. However, it is recommended that you keep these negative emotions at bay but not by necessarily avoiding them. For example, in a 2017 study published by Noelle Nelson at the University of Kansas in the Journal of Behavioural Decision Making, you shouldn’t purposefully avoid negative emotions. Rather you should try thinking about the emotions rather than the failure itself to help you deal with such situations.

Therefore, learn to let go of these emotions and learn to embrace them. Accept your feelings, label them and even let yourself feel bad about them only for a while. As long as is useful for you.

How to Persist Even After You Fail

Failures are a usual and inevitable aspect of life, and in order to prevent them from holding you back, you may have to learn how to keep rising up in the aftermath of failures and not let them continue to pull you down. In today’s article, I have summarised a few evidence-based tips to help you counter negative emotions after suffering from a setback.

1.    Distinguish Unhealthy Attempts to Avoid Pain

Remember that minimising emotions is not necessarily the goal, neither is it likely to help you. You may try to avoid these feelings by making excuses, blaming external factors, and even by resorting to unhealthy coping habits (such as drinking, eating etc). They may bring temporary relief, but they are nonetheless unhealthy coping mechanisms. Try distinguishing such unhealthy tactics at your end since they will only worsen the situation for you in the long-term.

2.    Reject Illogical Assumptions About Failure.

Several setbacks in a row may lead you to develop several irrational beliefs about failure. For example, it may lead you to think that there is something wrong with you and even that you might never succeed. This may even prevent you from doing something progressive in the future too. These assumptions are likely to be inaccurate, and it is important to identify these baseless assumptions which may do more harm by influencing your behaviour and expectations. We reflect and learn the valuable lessons from the past, but do not necessarily let it dictate our future choices and decisions.

3.    Accept a Certain Level of Responsibility.

It is also likely to help if you learn to take some responsibility for your setback. While blaming others will not necessarily help, taking all the blame on yourself will not help either. Try looking for explanations rather than excuses, and therefore try to see what is it that you can do differently next time. Reflect effectively and learn from the experience and recognise what it was about it that you can be and were responsible for and therefore is within your control to do something progressive about.

4.    Explore Well-Known Failures.

This is something I have personally applied, and used with many clients and stu8dents of mine. Remember, there is no shortage of famous failures. You may not know, but even the greatest of people have continuously struggled and suffered great failures. Many actors have been rejected, many business proposals have been turned down, and yet people have succeeded. You are no different. The next time you fail, think of how Albert Einstein’s teachers labelled him as dull-witted and reportedly said that “he will never get anywhere.” Go and read and swot up on the many famous failures and help it put your own into some perspective and even serve to drive you forwards.

5.    Create a Back-up Plan for Progress.

Once you have recognised your failures and identified your mistakes, it is important that you develop a model to move ahead. Keep in mind that constantly going over your mistakes and rethinking your failures will not be very useful. Is it not better to rid oneself of this vicious circle and instead leave it in the past – where it rightfully belongs? Change your perspective – see your setback not as a failure but as a chance to try again and to give it a better try. Or to do things differently, even more effectively, or to do something completely different altogether.

Having learned your lessons, think of what you need to do next time and reshape your path accordingly. Turn your new information into new practise and let it take you somewhere new!

6.    Acknowledge Your Fears.

Trying to avoid failures and ensure as little damage as possible may work sometimes, but be sure to know that it doesn’t always work and definitely will not work forever! Therefore, if you are the person who constantly has spent a long time trying to avoid failure, any subsequent setbacks can hit you hard. Thus, a good suggestion for you would be to face your fears so that it is easier for you to react to a failure and be healthily prepared for it.

Trying new things, particularly things you are too afraid to do, things you may not be very good at and things you may even fail at, will help you move out of your comfort zone. This will help you learn that failure is not necessarily bad; It is just part of the learning and development process.  You will learn that failure can be productive, and one setback can turn into a major comeback.

I love the quote of Nelson Mandela when he said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

7.    Healthy Coping Mechanisms.

Instead of resorting to another negative and unhealthy way of dealing with things, it is better to try doing something which will help you relax and keep your mind off the disturbing incident. Healthy coping mechanisms may include calling a friend, going out on a walk alone or with a pet, watching your favourite Netflix show or absolutely anything that brings you peace – peace of mind and body.

Not every mechanism works for everyone, but it may help to try out these things and find out which one works for you the best. Slowing down and giving your mind a rest helps you come back stronger.

Final Word

Understand that failure can have devastating consequences, but it is not impossible to deal with, and it definitely is not the end of the world. An end always means a new beginning, and just because one route didn’t work for you doesn’t mean others won’t either. Try out the tips that have been summarised here and see if they work for you.

Here is another article that focuses in on persistence, not just in the face of failure as this article has done: 9 Ways to be More Persistent.

Furthermore, if you experience extreme reactions to failure, it is beneficial to seek professional help.


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