Fail! Embracing the transformative power of failure
We are confronted with the message that “Failure is bad” from an early age.
For example, if a student falls behind in school, they can be held back a grade in an attempt to correct these deficiencies. This can open the student up to teasing from their peers and possibly even alienation from their social group. These negative social consequences can exacerbate an educational experience that is likely already marked by anxiety.
These early experiences with failure can make it difficult to recognize that failure can be a positive experience. Ironically, failure can be a tremendous learning experience. Success usually provides fewer answers than failure does.
Think about it — if you have always been successful, do you ever stop to question why you are successful? Processing failure requires an analysis and confrontation as to why things happen the way they do, often having to acknowledge our own shortcomings.
In health and wellness, failure is much more common than success. If you have ever started a diet or an exercise regimen with a specific goal in mind that you did not meet, then you have failed. But guess what- you are not alone! There are few areas where failure is more common than the pursuit of health and wellness goals.
In order to grow from your failure, you must go through the potentially painful process of asking, “Why?”
- Did I change my diet in a way that was unsustainable?
- Was my goal unreasonable because of its magnitude, the period of time that I expected to reach it in, etc.?
- Did I utilize all the resources that were available to me?
- Did I really commit myself to making a change?
If you talk to someone who has achieved success in a certain area, they likely will have an example of a time when they failed, perhaps even providing multiple examples. With an honest success story, you will hear how they leveraged the information that they gained from their failure(s) to take a different approach to their goals on their way to success.
Embrace the possibility of failure. When we accept it as part of a well-lived life, we open our horizons up to the possibilities available to us. The important thing to do is to learn from our failures and not give up on pursuing the changes we want to make in our lives. In the end, the only real failure is not trying. •