Coping with Failure

Do you ever have days where you feel like everything is going wrong? Like no matter what, you can’t do anything right? I know I sure do. Mistakes, failures, and setbacks are parts of life. So what do you do? Cry, scream, something else? It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you learn from it. I believe every part of life, including mistakes and failures, is a learning experience and should be treated as such. You make a mistake? Okay, learn from it and improve so it doesn’t happen again. I know there are days where it seems like the world is against you and it is just a bad day. But can I tell you something: you have a track record for surviving bad days. And do you know what that record is: 100%. You’ve made it through all of your bad days so far, and you can continue to do so. You’re amazing.

I’ve seen jokes on Pinterest and Facebook about “If you can’t handle me at my worst…” but I think my favorite one was, “If you can’t handle me at my worst, I can and that makes me stronger than you.” I think it’s funny, but there’s also truth to it. Sometimes, when life throws you a curveball, you have to find strength you didn’t know you had. Here’s an example for you: most days, I am super emotional. The combination of multiple bad events could just leave me in tears. However, I have discovered that in events where I should be hysterical and emotional, I’m calm. Take my car accident for example. I figured I would have been sobbing and incoherent. However, my brain switched gears and was more worried about comforting the other driver (who was kind of hysterical). I didn’t make the connection until this weekend though. So on Sunday, my roommate and I went to a few stores to run some errands. It was gloomy and stormy all day (we even had a tornado warning at one point). I do not like storms at all. They freak me out. So it was weird when one of the stores lost power, I remained calm. My roommate came to find me and I could tell she was freaking out some (it was bad rain, and under normal circumstances I would have freaked out). So instead, I made sure she was okay. Not allowing myself to freak out in situations I should be hysterical is a strength that I definitely did not know I had. I beat myself up so much after the car accident, thinking it WAS my fault (like the report says) or wondering what I could have done differently. But in the moment, I found strength that I didn’t know I had. That was a failure staring me right in the face, and it still haunts me some to this day, but I overcame. I learned from it and improved.

That being said, maybe these won’t all work for you, but I want to give you some tips to help you cope with the setbacks in your life:

  • Take a deep breath- It’s okay to be overwhelmed. Remind yourself and allow yourself to take some time to catch your breath.
  • Cry- Obviously this is going to be on my list. I have found that crying clears my mind and allows me to think better.
  • Improve on it- Yes, the failure happened. And it sucked. But at this point, there’s nothing you can do about it. What you can do though is do something so it doesn’t happen again. If it’s a test, study harder. You know what to expect, prepare for it. If it’s work, make sure it doesn’t happen again. Do what you can to avoid it.
  • Grow from it- yes it happened, but mistakes happen. Failure happens. Newsflash: you aren’t perfect. You WILL make mistakes. Mistakes make you a better person only if you grow from them.
  • Only let it affect you once- I have this recurring habit of replaying mistakes multiple times in my head. I still cringe over them. But they only happened once. If you fail at something, that’s no reason to stop trying. Going back to the example of my car accident: if I let the fear of getting into another accident affect me, then I would have a hard time getting into any car, or driving, or going anywhere.
  • Vent/rant to a listening ear- I’m not just talking anyone. Talk to someone you’re close to. It could be a significant other, roommate, friend, or sibling. It needs to be someone you trust, but also someone who will set you straight. You don’t want someone who is going to coddle you; you will never learn from mistakes that way. You need someone who will be like, “That was a stupid mistake (if it is a stupid one); but don’t let it happen again because you’re better than that.”
  • Look for feedback and work to correct according to that feedback- In my psychology class this semester, my professor is super petty about my formatting. In fact, I have yet to get a perfect score on a homework assignment because something in my formatting is off. I pay attention to her comments (even if they are super petty like “You used the wrong color” “The font in your page numbers is wrong”, etc. (Yes, those are real examples)) and try to improve in hopes that maybe one day, I’ll finally get a perfect score on homework.

I hope these tips help. Or you may have your own tips that you follow. Either way, know this: you are greater and stronger than any mistake, setback, or failure.

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