Failures are inevitable, and although most individuals are met with an undeniable sense of disappointment, making the wrong decisions also play a fundamental role in personal growth. Failed experiences present an opportunity to re-evaluate past mistakes and allows individuals to formulate a new comprehensive plan of action.
According to Charles Popov, a licensed addictions counselor and certified nutritional counselor — and someone who has helped many people turn tragedy into triumph — here are five tips to bounce back from failure and not just survive, but thrive:
Forgive Yourself and Look Forward
Many individuals remain unmotivated due to a specific setback that impacted them personally or professionally. However, it is imperative to move past feelings of regret and disappointment and forgive yourself for your previous actions. According to Charles Popov: forgiving oneself, and if necessary, forgiving others sends a clear signal that the present is more important than the past, and is rocket fuel for resilience.
Analyze the Situation and Establish a Period of Self-Reflection
Failure is often accompanied by a wide range of emotions; however, as opposed to falling victim to negative thought processes, it is important to allow for a period of self-reflection. Charles Popov recommends seeking the guidance of a discreet family member or qualified therapist to help analyze what went wrong. Consider asking yourself some of the following questions:
- What was the root of my mistake? What steps lead me here?
- How do I fix the current situation, and who should I talk to?
- What are some steps that I can take to avoid this happening in the future?
- How can I turn this experience into a learning opportunity?
- What are my takeaways from this experience?
The idea is to transform a mistake into a profitable learning opportunity. For this to work, the approach must be rational, objective and detached —The goal is to identify facts and make adjustments. It is about moving forward, not backward.
Reframe Failures By Putting Things in Perspective
While reflecting on one’s disappointments is an important part of the process, this should not become an all-encompassing obsession that obfuscates and crowds out many worthy and notable successes. Likewise, mistakes should not become debilitating and prevent one from achieving their long- and short-term goals.
According to Charles Popov: due to recency bias, some people cannot look beyond a failure to realize that they have experienced many successes in their life, and surely will again. Even honestly acknowledging that one has failed is a success act.
Find the Positives and Look for Opportunities
It is important not to remain stagnant after periods of self-reflection, but instead seek out new opportunities. Resilient individuals focus on their strengths and exhibit a high degree of persistence and determination. As opposed to remaining passive, take the time to establish future goals and comprise a detailed list of objectives. Cultivating the right mindset will help individuals use failed experiences as a means to make the necessary changes in their life while building character.
Cultivate Positive Change and Volunteer to Help Others
Many individuals who experience failure suffer a painful, sometimes vicious blow to their self-esteem and sense of self-worth. They go from feeling competent and confident, to feeling helpless and hapless. It is within this emotional vortex that volunteering in any meaningful capacity — at an animal shelter, at a food bank, as part of a local park clean-up team, and the list goes on — can be remarkably transformative and therapeutic.
According to Charles Joseph Popov: When we help others, we step outside of our inner narrative — which after a failure is invariably full of negative noise about others and ourselves — and connect with others who appreciate our efforts. They do not see us as failures, but as part of the solution. This can be the catalyst that re-ignites one’s shattered confidence, while at the same time making a positive difference in the lives of others. Everyone wins.
The Bottom Line
Striving for perfection is not just impossible; it is also not a healthy approach to any situation. Failures happen; some of which we are the chief architect, and others of which we are more along the lines of unlucky innocent bystanders. In the big picture and final analysis, what matters most is not necessarily when we fail, but rather how — and how quickly — we bounce back and return to the game.