Failures are a normal event in most people’s lives, however there are some who seem to get more than their fair share. Each time they ask themselves “why me”? Each time their self confidence takes a battering. Each time the sense of helplessness becomes stronger, and each time it becomes more and more difficult to bounce back. But there are ways to recover even if you have had a series of failures and think you have no energy left to fight back.
Step 1 - Get it out of your system
Keeping it bottled up inside does not help. You end up feeling miserable and making everyone around you miserable as well. Many people especially men are conditioned to maintain a ‘stiff upper lip’ no matter what, but not only does it affect your emotional state your health also takes a big hit. You are of no use to anyone including yourself if your are sick or worse – dead! Do whatever you have to in order to get it out of your system. If you want to cry - do it, if you want to scream – then scream, if you want to put your feelings down on paper – then start writing. Most people secretly blame others for their failures, their friends or family, their colleagues, their stock broker etc. Blame everyone you think is even remotely associated with your failure. But this should be a completely private exercise, it does not mean that you actually seek out everyone and tell them how you think they have contributed to your misery. This may seem a very negative thing to do but believe me it works as it helps you to bring to surface any residual resentment, so that nothing is left festering inside you anymore. One may say that this exercise will make them feel worse, yes it will but you have to hit rock bottom before you can bounce back.
Step 2 – Acceptance
Once you have everything out of your system, then you can take the next step. Realize that you are powerless to travel back in time and change your life. What has happened is in the past, dwelling on it will not change the present outcome. Whoever or whatever was responsible cannot change your present. Your “what if” thinking is not going to have any bearing on a past event – What if you had not listened to x,y,z and invested your money? What if you had taken the other job offer? What if … what if…. Pointless and a total waste of time, you past is permanently part of your history. But your future starts in this moment right now. The choice is yours whether you want to keep thinking of all that happened and ensure that it happens in your future as well or do you say ‘enough’ and put it behind you once and for all.
Step 3 – Get over it
There are millions who are in the same situation as you and there are several millions in worse situations. Big deal! Nobody can make the right choice each time. Everyone ends up at the wrong time at the wrong place at some point in their lives, success depends upon what you do after a choice that didn’t go according to plan. The world is not conspiring against you. None of us is that important! Be thankful that you survived a really bad patch in your life. The act of being thankful is important and extremely powerful. We have grown up hearing that ‘Allah always knows what is best for us’. In fact many religions subscribe to this theory, and when a statement is echoed over millennia by completely opposing religions, then it can be considered as a “universal truth’. So understand the wisdom of this truth and internalize it. Our problem seems to be that we become fanatical about the rituals of the religions we follow and use its wisdom only as quotations which we spout in public. If God does know what’s best for us then He must have purposely put us through this situation to teach us something. What were your most important take-aways from this period of your life.? Did you find out who your true friends were and who were not?
Step 4 – Take responsibility
If you have realized that this failure was no more than a life lesson, then its time to understand what it was trying to teach you. You put the blame on everyone else but what about yourself? What did you do to attract this situation? This is not about beating yourself up and telling yourself that you are a loser. This is about taking stock of your own areas of improvement. Are there any attitudes or beliefs you are holding on to which seem to be at play here e.g. a refusal means that they don’t like you? Do you feel that you were lacking in some key skills which led to this failure e.g planning, budgeting or getting work done from people? Are there certain habits which contributed to this problem e.g. procrastination? By doing this you will be taking a positive step for your future as well as realize that putting the blame on others was somewhat unfair.
Step 5 – Take action
Make a list of lessons learnt and identify what you need to do differently next time. By taking action in the present you change your future. Start working on your areas of improvement. Get ready for the next opportunity and have belief that it will come. The outcome of your future opportunity will change because you yourself have changed, if not history will keep repeating itself.