Feeling like a failure? 10 Simple Ways to Help You Rise Again

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  • 30 Mar 2024
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The concept of feeling like a failure strikes at our most vulnerable interior place—our inner sense of self-esteem and self-love. Although we intuitively understand that attaining high requires some degree of failure, when we fall short, that knowing provides little or no comfort. 

When we fail at something, we tend to consider in terms of the big picture rather than the short term. We believe that we not only failed, but are failures. Feelings of unworthiness drag us down, causing blunders and setbacks, rather than just providing feedback and important information to help us go forward.

The good news is that we can learn from our mistakes and use them to improve ourselves. 

Even if we understand that failure is manageable, it does not change how we feel about ourselves when we encounter it. Failure can have a negative impact on our self-esteem and self-love, reducing our optimism about the future. 

So, how do we feel better about ourselves? Here are ten acts of self-love to try when you feel like a failure.


1. Forgive Yourself

The ability to forgive is possibly the most valuable gift we can give ourselves to aid in our recovery from our regrets and mistakes. 

Instead of berating yourself for not knowing what is so evident today, view yourself as a work in progress and give yourself the gift of forgiveness. You can't predict the future, so you can't plan every step to perfection. Give yourself a break and make allowance for mistakes. 

Try a loving-kindness meditation to prepare for forgiveness. This will expose your heart to the idea of embracing your faults.


2. Practice Self-Compassion

Self-compassion is arguably the most crucial component of self-esteem and resilience. It was once assumed that achievement and success—surpassing the norm—were the keys to strong self-esteem. 

However, the path to self-esteem is far too conditional, implying that anyone at or below the standard is not as worthy or unique. Self-compassion assures everyone, both high achievers and low achievers, that they are worthy of unconditional love.


3. Stop Judging Yourself

Suspending the labels you apply to yourself is an act of self-love. Rather than calling yourself "a failure," be more precise and less general.

Feeling like a failure does not have to define your identity or worth. Change the way you feel about yourself from "I'm a failure" down to "I could not get things to work out this time" to "I made some mistakes and will use this experience as stepping stones going forward." Label the experience for what it is, rather than naming yourself based on a single error.


4. Turn Your Failures Into Goals

Instead of saying "I failed at my marriage," you might say "I struggled to communicate in my marriage and am learning to communicate better now." 

The first statement is rooted in the past and cannot be changed, whereas the second is more forward-thinking and empowers you to do things now. If you can figure out what caused your previous failures, you can attempt to set goals based on those deficiencies.


5. Give Yourself a Hug

Instead of giving your inner critic free run, how about giving yourself a hug? 

Hugging has been shown in studies to enhance the synthesis of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone that may help alleviate stress and depression

We all need hugs, especially from ourselves! If this seems like too much, give yourself a mental hug by writing down five things you appreciate or adore about yourself. This will offer you the same feeling of love and welcome.


6. Imagine Yourself as a Young Child

Keep in mind that no one regards children as undeserving of love or pleasure. And the truth is that we have the same worth as when we were born. 

Sometimes we need to see past the scars and wounds to understand that our preciousness and natural value remain within us. 

Thinking about oneself as a child may help you adjust your perspective and offer greater forgiveness. Try to remember that you are still that child, evolving as you progress through life.


7. Switch Your Mindset From Victim to Victor

When you feel like a failure, you see yourself as a victim of the past rather than recognizing your resilience and ability to recover. 

After all, it doesn't matter how many times we've been beaten down and failed. What important is how many times we get back up and try again, each time with a little more knowledge. Try to put the victim perspective behind you and see yourself as a victor after overcoming failures to go on to something greater and better.


8. Become More Mindful

Mindfulness is more than just meditating or breathing deeply and quietly in private. Rather, it is about being fully present in our daily lives with nonjudgmental awareness in whatever we do. 

When you are aware, you remain present rather than reflecting on your past mistakes or worrying about the future. As the adage goes, “Today is a gift, and that's why they call it the present.”


9. Calm Yourself with a Calming Box

When we feel like we've failed, we sometimes need something substantial to console us. As a therapist, I would occasionally have my clients make a self-soothing box to help them cope with stressful situations. 

Using genuine things to distract and self-soothe can provide calming touchstones. 

A notepad, a stress ball, or a polished stone to remind you of your worth are all examples of items that can be placed within a calming box and utilized to help you feel better when you're depressed.


10. Connect With Others

When people feel like failures, they typically isolate themselves, cutting themselves off instead of opening up to others, which is a quick way to harm your mental health. 

Seeking social support is one of the best things you can do when you feel like a failure. Getting another person's point of view will assist you overcome the tunnel vision that distorts your own perception. 

Asking for help and having the guts to open out instead of closing down will help you prevent loneliness while also deepening your interactions with people. 

This short TED Talk with Robert Reffkin offers some advice on how to make greater connections to improve your life. 


Final Thoughts

These ten strategies can help you quit feeling like a failure and live a more resilient and fulfilling life. Instead of focusing on the disappointment that comes with falling short, be proud of yourself for having the bravery and excitement to pursue your objectives. 

We must quit thinking in all-or-nothing, global terms, so that our mistakes and failures become stepping stones toward success rather than millstones around our necks. 

Use setbacks to help you get closer to success.

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