Failure – Does It Shame You or Guide You

Many people have grown up with the belief that failure is a bad thing; a reflection of who you are.

That is not true.

“Failure is an event, never a person.”  William D. Brown

Feelings of shame, uselessness and humiliation often arise when something in your life happens, or you attempt to do something, that makes you feel as if you have failed. These feelings can be oppressive and difficult to process, but they are not impossible to shake loose.

Life presents everyone with many opportunities to fail. The key word here is ‘opportunity’, because the truth is, you learn better from the mistakes you make than you do from the successes you enjoy.

Failing at something – even a relationship – and making mistakes provides us with important information. Perhaps the skill to learning from them is in creating time and space to reflect on what transpired, and then ask yourself some important questions, such as:

  • Wow, what just happened here?
  • How am I feeling right now about this situation, or relationship?
  • Was this event something I ever want to experience again? If not, what, or how, can I change in order to avoid this happening again?

In current times, the phrase ‘Life will keep giving you the same challenges, until you learn the lesson’ has been repeated often, especially on social media. The reality is that there’s a lot of truth to this statement.

Have you ever noticed that when you finally paid attention to a behaviour or phrase that was not serving you well, and you made the decision to adjust or amend it, that your life changed in some significant way?

That’s powerful learning. That’s you taking the driver’s seat of your life, and moving forward in the direction of your own choosing.

When you are able to view and reflect on an experience of failing at something as an event, rather than as the sum total of who you are, it changes everything. It gives you back your power.

Know, in the core of your being – no matter what anyone in the past said to you – that it is OK to fail, even repeatedly. Just don’t stay there.

Making the choice to learn from your mistakes can free you. There is tremendous personal energy in being able to recognize what is holding you back, and finally letting go of it. This is a healthy habit to form, and one that will sustain you through all the new lessons that life will give you. I leave you with this quote by Henry Ford:

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.

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