Overcoming Failure and Pushing Forward

We always want to be optimistic when it comes to life, but sometimes things just don’t go well. That’s okay though – we’re all human, after all. We’re bound to make some mistakes here and there, and sometimes things just don’t go our way for reasons beyond our control.

It can be hard to deal with failure, and this is true at any point in life, but we have to be able to face it and overcome it instead of letting it consume us. Otherwise, we either end up trying to avoid it altogether – which doesn’t work – or struggle with the negativity that it may cause. When dealing with failure and trying to overcome it, it is important that you take the right approach.

The First Step: Acceptance

The first and perhaps most important step is being honest with yourself and accepting how you feel. Oftentimes, failure is something that gets in our heads and makes us feel pain for a while, and it hurts especially right when it happens.

While you might feel frustrated, angry, or even crushed in that very moment, the truth will always be the same: it’s OK to have those feelings. Not only that, but rejecting or ignoring them will leave you feeling worse in the end, and you’ll only have more trouble understanding why things went wrong.

The same goes for trying to act positive when you really aren’t – bottling up your emotions will only put you through more stress and negativity.

Being honest with yourself and accepting how you feel are crucial in beginning to overcome failure. While it may hurt at first, you’ll have a better handle of yourself and be able to move forward better than hiding or ignoring your feelings.

Build Yourself Up, Don’t Tear Yourself Down

When life throws us obstacles or failures, our minds tend to go to a negative place, and we might be quick to think that we won’t improve – worse yet, we might feel that we are failures ourselves. However, this sort of mindset can be dangerous, since if we continue to call ourselves failures, those words may end up becoming true.

What matters is understanding that failure does not last forever – you are not going to keep failing just because you failed once or twice (or more) already. At the same time, failure is not a label that you can’t take off after it happens. By learning from your mistakes and actively working to move forward, that feeling of failure will not last.

In particular, changing your perspective about failure can help you feel better about it. Rather than seeing it in terms of how much it sets you back, ask questions and look at how you can learn and improve from it. That way, you already start focusing your mind on taking the next steps, instead of feeling stuck in a pit you can’t crawl out of.

An example of a question is to ask yourself what you can change so you don’t make the same mistake again next time. Take some time to reflect on these questions, and be honest about your answers.

You don’t need to rush or feel like you need to have an answer now – these things can take hours, days, or even weeks, and that’s okay. What matters is that you are putting yourself on the path to improvement, and you are using your mistakes as opportunities to learn and get better. And, if you stay on this path, you certainly will get better.

Get Support and Inspiration From Others

Reaching out to people you are close with, like friends or family, is a strong way for being able to deal with the aftermath of failure and building yourself back up. This is the same for anything causing you stress or unhappiness in life – you don’t want to bottle up your emotions and try to get by. It’s an unhealthy way of coping and it will make you feel even more stressed or unhappy.

Regardless of who you feel comfortable talking to, make sure that they’re someone who will actively listen to you, someone who you can vent your frustrations to and be honest with. Being able to let out everything you’re feeling with someone like that will help relieve you of the pressure and accept the reality of the situation.

At the same time, talking with others close to you can give you a different point of view, which can be all you need to tackle your problems and move forward. If anything, they’ll at least be someone who can encourage you in your struggles, which is much better than dealing with those struggles alone.

Another thing you can find from others is inspiration and wisdom, especially from someone who has been in your situation before. For one, their experiences can help teach you and give you an idea of what you should do. At the same time, looking at the stories of successful people in your area or field can help motivate you on your own path.

However, there is something incredibly important to keep in mind: whenever we see stories of the success of other people online, in media, or even in our own lives, we never see the whole story.

These people have faced many obstacles, challenges, and failures in order to get to where they are now. Anyone who wants to succeed or achieve something they care about must be willing to overcome their failures.

If there is anything you are looking to learn from others, it’s that you always have to get up every time you fall down. It might be hard at first, but you’ll find that if they were able to make it, then you can too.

Take the Next Steps

At this point, you’ve probably had a lot to think about, and hopefully you’ve talked to some people about what you’ve been going through. That’s good – understanding and accepting your situation and how you feel is a vital part in overcoming failure, as I’ve talked about before.

Though, it’s crucial to start moving forward and planning out your next steps, as otherwise you might get caught up in those thoughts for a while.

The best way to not get held back is by making an action plan after you’ve had a little time to think about everything – especially if you’ve asked yourself questions about the failure or problem you’re facing.

Note that this plan doesn’t need to be absolutely flawless, since you can make any needed changes as you move along. Though, it can help to divide your plan into smaller sections that you can tackle one at a time. That way, you can ease yourself through it if you feel worried about making the same mistakes you did before.

You can make the steps as small as you need them to be in order to get yourself going, even if they’re only 5-10 minutes of work. What matters is that you’re making progress, and over time it will get easier to push through everything else that needs to be done. Before you know it, you’ll have come a long way from where you started.

If you can take those first steps and keep going, you can and will make it through.

Conclusion

Failure is something that hurts to deal with, even when it isn’t your fault. Though, it’s important to remember that no matter how many times you fail, you are not a failure. At the same time, failure is something that everyone struggles with, and overcoming it is how we succeed. By accepting how you feel, finding support from others, planning out the course of action, and committing yourself, you can overcome it too.

It’s always hard at the beginning, especially when something you care a lot about goes wrong. You might feel at times that it’s easier to give up than to keep trying. Though, the only way out of those situations is through, and over time it’ll start feeling easier to get up after you fall. At the end of the day, what matters is that you don’t let failure hold you back – you can overcome it.

Published by Gerardo Lucena

Gerardo Lucena is a Junior at the University of Michigan pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Engineering (BSE) degree in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Computer Science. He has programming experience in C++, and he has worked with Michigan Hyperloop and MRover during his first two years at the University.

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