Failure is Your Friend

Janay Bailey, LMHC June 25, 2022

When we fail at something, why don’t we see it as getting one step closer to where we truly need to be?

When we think of failure, some words that come to mind might be defeat, unworthiness, lack, and/or decline. But what if we challenged ourselves to see a new meaning of the word failure? What if anytime we failed at something, we saw it as a way of getting one step closer to where we truly need to be? What if someone told you that you need to fail ten interviews before you land your dream job? We would be in a hurry to fail.

Failure is our friend. It challenges us to grow, to reinvent ourselves. It can even push us to do things that we initially thought were impossible. When we begin to look at failure as a part of our journey, we are less likely to feel emotions such as sorrow, regret, or anger because we know that failure is healthy.

When we begin to look at failure as a natural part of our process and journey, we are less likely to use negative self-talk. Think about it. If you adopt the perspective that you’re going to fail at things from time to time, you’ll be less likely to verbally punish yourself when you do. Instead, you can acquire a self-talk pattern that promotes kindness and encouragement. When we understand that failure is a part of the process, we can say things like, “I may have messed up this time, but now I have the tools to do better next time.” You can also tell yourself, “I’m only human and I’m bound to fail from time to time.”

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) teaches us that we have three states of mind: the emotional mind, reasonable mind, and wise mind. The emotional mind is used when a person's emotions control their thoughts and behaviors. A person uses their reasonable mind when they approach a situation intellectually. The wise mind refers to a balance between the reasonable and emotional mind, in which you can recognize your emotions and respect your feelings while still responding to them in a rational manner. When we begin to acknowledge our feelings while failing and accept failure as a part of the process, we can view life from a wise mind perspective.

Let’s normalize failing. I challenge you to view failure not as a blockage, but ultimately as a part of the journey of life. It’s time we embrace it.

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