What many adults do when they fail or fall.
Adults beat themselves up like some religious zealots do when they practise self-flagellation.
What most babies do when they fall or fail.
Babies pick themselves back up.
One thing we have in common as human beings, whether reader or writer, is that…….
We all fail. Failure can feel like falling from a great height as sometimes happens in some of our recurring dreams.
Last week , I set myself a goal of spending time away on my own and nourishing myself consistently and sufficiently. I failed to do this on a couple of occasions but for the most part, I made progress. The morning after, I found myself overwhelmed and in tears so I dialled my equivalent of 999 or 911 or whatever your emergency team is (you fill in the ___ blanks). I spoke to one of my greatest encouragers and cheerleaders, my beloved younger brother.
He encouraged me by pointing out that the events of the previous night was just one in an ocean-full of successful attempts at nourishing myself. That morning, my beloved brother listened to me and searched for my words in the dense forest of tears and snot. He helped me make sense of the previous night. He told me that what mattered most were the spectacles through which I viewed the previous night. What mattered most was my perspective. His words stayed with me for the most part but I realised recently how much ‘one failure’ has dented my confidence and sense of self-belief. So this post is for all those who fail. Which means everyone.
And everyone means people with eating disorders, people without eating disorders, people with addictions and those who prefer to call what they do mere vices. Everyone includes those from Africa, Latin America, Europe and other continents. And even though I am not an animal lover, everyone also includes animals. I imagine they fail too sometimes. If you doubt my words, check out Planet Earth and David Attenborough. Everyone also includes adults and children alike.
We can learn so much from kids. When they fall, they tend to pop back up like unstoppable forces of energy. They don’t sit in their poo-soaked nappies, crying and lamenting their many failures in life like the time they failed to latch onto mother’s nipple or the time their sippy cup missed their mouth and the damn thing ended up all over the floor. They don’t linger, thankfully, on the time they missed their potty and the poo poo ended up all over the floor. No, they think to themselves ” Now, there in the distance, lies a pretty, shiny object which will be all mine if only I can make it over there. So here I go.” Unfortunately, we adults oftentimes tend to do things slightly differently. We are not as well-versed in dealing with failure.
Not everyone knows how to deal with failure.
Not everyone knows how to use their failures to their advantage.
Tips on how to react to failure.
- Use it as a learning opportunity rather than a opportunity for self-flagellation. Why beat yourself up when the world out there will give you a pretty rough beating? It’s best to be your biggest cheerleader rather than you biggest critic.
- Think about how you would react if a friend or loved one ‘failed’. Treat yourself and your failures in the same way that you would treat a loved one if they failed at something.
- Focus on your many successes rather than your failure(s).
- Talk through your failure with your biggest encourager and see what they have to say about it.
- Do not, I repeat, DO NOT HAVE A PITY PARTY with yourself. Why? Because it’s like being at a party with only one invitee – You. It’d be pretty boring wouldn’t you say? A pity party is not just about saying ‘Why me?’, it’s also about making the mistake of dwelling on one failure rather than your many former successes.
- Say to yourself: ‘Failing does not make me failure.’ Cliche, I know. Sue me. Each day I’m alive gives me a new opportunity to be successful and to learn from my failings. Use your failures to your advantage.
- Consider the many people who have failed at something before you. The list is endless: Serena Williams, Mo Farah, Colonel Sanders, JK Rowling….. These people are now successful because they still BELIEVE(D) in spite of their ‘failures’ and they persevered in spite of their ‘failings’.
- Finally, ask yourself the following questions:
- What were the circumstances leading up to this ‘failure’?
- What were my thoughts?
- What emotions did I have?
- What would I do if faced with a similar situation?
Learn from your failures. Don’t dwell on your failures. I say this to you as much as I say it to me.