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How Do You React to Failure?

by Mariela Tobar

July 9, 2021

In life, failure is inevitable. If you dare to dream big, the more mistakes you can expect to encounter along the way. The question then isn’t if you’ll fail, but how you will react when you do. While there are countless ways someone could react to failure, they generally fall into two categories—the “right” way and the “wrong” way.

The “Wrong” Way

The “wrong” way typically consists of someone beating themselves up for making a mistake. Doubting their abilities and whether they are capable of doing what they are in pursuit of. Sometimes we make careless mistakes, and other times we simply act in poor judgment. Regardless of the gravity of the situation, the good news is that there is always something positive to extract from the situation. This is where we can transition to responding the “right” way. But more on that later. It is important to highlight that with all the failures we will encounter in life, we won’t always respond the “right” way. We are human, after all. The way we react in and of itself could be a mistake to learn from. The goal isn’t to be perfect—it’s to be in a progression of being our best self. If you notice you tend to react negatively more than positively, make a mental note and strive to catch yourself before having a poor reaction the next time you find yourself making a mistake. It is okay to be upset at first, but don’t let it ruin your day, month, or even year! 

The “Right” Way

As mentioned above, it is “normal” to respond with fear, doubt, or remorse when facing failure. The goal is to not sit in that negative emotion long-term. Acknowledge the mistake and allow yourself to feel the emotion, but then take time to reflect on what you could have done differently. What lesson is being presented to you? Use it as fuel to drive you further. It’s been said before that a setback is just setting the stage for a comeback. The comeback often reaps better results. This is because of who you become when faced with adversity if you choose to lean into it. Remember, every season in life has a beginning and an end. With time, the failure and mistakes you are facing will be forgotten about or reversed. Time may not always be our friend, but don’t be your own enemy by making the time pass more negatively by responding in the “wrong” way. Choose to see the positive in everything you face, extract the lesson, and use it to propel you in the direction of your dreams.

“The successful man will profit from his mistakes and try again in a different way.” –Dale Carnegie