Failures. The building blocks to success

Why do I have low self-confidence, but someone else doesn’t? I don’t understand what I’m doing wrong!

The answer is simple - it all comes down to your relationship with failure.

When we experience failure it can sap our self-confidence, because we start to think negatively of ourselves.

  • I’m incompetent.
  • No one will want to socialise with someone who’s a failure.
  • People will look down on me because I’ve failed.

As a society, we have developed this fear of failure; a belief that if we fail then somehow we aren’t good enough anymore.Often this comes from negative reactions to failures when we are younger, either by parents or at school. It's then reinforced wherever we go that failure is terrible, that a catastrophic event will happen should we fail.

I challenge you friends; think about the last time you failed at something. Did the world end? Clearly not!

The key is to re-adjust how we view failure. This is the difference between wanting to be successful and living successfully.

It’s said that when Thomas Edison was re-designing the light bulb he failed over and over again. But when interviewed he laughed it off and said “I’ve not failed, I’ve simply discovered 100 ways not to re-design the light bulb!”

This is the gold standard for a relationship with failure; failures are the building blocks to success.

Imagine when you were growing up and learning to talk, or if you have young children, look at how they learn. They will have gotten things wrong, said naughty words they’ve learnt that would embarrass their parents or just made garbled noises that they think resemble a word. But they never gave up. Because at this point, they haven’t been taught that failure is a negative; same with walking. Time and time again young children will attempt to walk, fail and try again. But they don’t give up. They learn from their mistake, they make their failures the building blocks to their successes.

Re-evaluating your relationship with failure can be tricky, like many others, as you have probably spent many years believing that failure is a bad thing. So start small and simple, and acknowledge own your failures.

A famous motivational speaker spoke about how every evening when he sits down to dinner with his family, they will talk about three things that they’ve failed at today. By encouraging this behaviour in himself and his family, they take the fear and judgement away from failure and encourage the re-evaluation of failure.

By acknowledging and owning your failures you begin to become more self-aware of who you are and your limitations.

For example, if I try and run a marathon I will probably fail, because I’m built for empathy not for speed! However, if I get upset and depressed because I can’t run a marathon, I won’t learn from my mistakes. If I use my failure as a building block and realise that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew with a marathon and attempt something smaller - like a 20 minute jog on a treadmill - I won’t experience that failure. Then I might build from that into a 2k fun run.

To summarise...

  • Own your failures; becoming more self-aware will lead to greater personal fulfilment and a better relationship with yourself.
  • Re-adjust your views on what a failure is. Remember the mantra; failure is a building block to success.
  • Use the failure to re-evaluate what you can do rather than what you can't do.

If you feel like talking with a professional about where you feel you may have failed will help you, contact a counsellor in your area.

Wishing you good emotional health.

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

Share this article with a friend

Written by David Borrill, MBACP (Accred), Dip.Couns, Adv Dip (CBT)

David is a CBT Nottinghamshire based Counsellor working with adults and children around various sexual health, gender identity and sexuality issues.

Info@borrillcounselling.com… Read more

Written by David Borrill, MBACP (Accred), Dip.Couns, Adv Dip (CBT)

Show comments

Find the right counsellor or therapist for you

All therapists are verified professionals.