Today I wanted to ponder on the topic of failure. It gets such a bad rap, and yet is not only a necessary part of life but also a key ingredient in success. I wonder why that is, and how to overcome whatever blocks us from taking risks after a certain point? (Image source rawpixel.com on Pexels)
Failure sucks. It literally hurts (by causing pain to feel greater than if we had succeeded). You get revved up and excited about something, put your all into it and then- nothing. A big, fat, whopping, nothing. Or worse, the exact opposite of what you were working toward. But even when nothing happens, it still sucks.
Energy And Results
When you fail, you probably have a thought similar to, 'all that effort for nothing.' You put so much energy into something that getting nothing just seems like a slap in the face. What was the point? You only have so much time and energy in a day, right? Getting those results is an important factor in your willingness to try again.
And yet, you must try again. Because the only other option is to give up.
So many people do give up, though. I do, regularly. I'll spend effort on something and not get the results I expected, and then die a little inside. In those moments, I give up on everything, just floating through the days trying to heal my self esteem. I see so many people that seem to be doing that same thing, but they confuse me greatly. Because they don't get back up.
I do. I'll try again. Something new, something different, something that seems better than the time before (though I'm not sure if it actually is or not). I've always been that way. Life knocks me flat over into a deep, soul-crushing depression on a fairly regular basis. So why do I get up and they don't?
Pain, Failure And Tolerance
As I said above, failure hurts. But it doesn't actually hurt more than not doing anything at all. PubMed found the secret is in success, not in failure. When we succeed, we have a much higher tolerance for pain than failing or never taking the chance in the first place.
What this says to me is that people that have given up just accepted that low pain tolerance, and stopped reaching for bluer skies and greener pastures. Maybe they don't even believe it exists anymore, as their minor successes get swept under the rug in favor of drowning in the grey sorrow of everything sucks. To them, there is no success, because they gave up on the concept entirely.
Me, though? I'm a bit bipolar about it. I still see my minor successes. Throwing trash into a bin is a small victory I still celebrate at 25 like I'm 12. Someone pays me a compliment, says I was helpful or something, and I swell up inside with a huge beaming grin and a soul on fire. Unless life has recently knocked me down, of course. But in those moments are when I need it most, and it has a definite impact.
I've noticed people that give up tend to have fewer friendships, too. The ones I know personally seem isolated and kinda in their own little worlds. I'm sure it's to avoid the pains they have lower tolerance to, but it also blinds them to those small wins that would help them change it all around.
Solution To The Effects Of Failure
When I was young, my mom would harp on annoyingly about the silver lining to the clouds. It was nauseating, she said it so much. We experienced a lot of hardship, and that was her defense against giving up. Because she couldn't give up, for my sake, in her mind. That damn silver lining kept her going through a lot of rough times.
As a young adult, I'd fall back on 'everything happens for a reason' in the same way. Now, I have a whole bunch of sayings like that I've learned to use when applicable. Silver linings aren't very empathetic and not everything needs to happen for a reason- sometimes that's really asinine to suggest. So I've learned not to rely on one like a broken record, but every low moment needs some kind of ladder to help me climb out.
Those that give up don't have cute little phrases like that to protect their spirits. The ones they use are more drab and damaging than helpful. As annoying as those phrases are, they shine a tiny light in the darkness on a success. The nearest success, no matter how small, is the first step in healing from failure. Overcoming the aversion to trying again is just a series of progressively increasing those successes until your self esteem and efficacy can handle risking it all once again.
I'm not a professional or anything, but from what I've seen this seems to be the simplest explanation. It won't work on things like grief or trauma, but on the day-to-day failures and mistakes it's a handy lifeline. Annoying, maybe, but handy.
What are your thoughts? Comment below, on Facebook or Twitter and share your opinions and experiences!
I'll see you tomorrow at 9a!
As I begin this anew, I know only one thing: that I know nothing. Learn with me, and together we will figure this out.
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.