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How to process failure to elevate yourself?

Failure is a fairly loaded term.

Even-though, literally, the term just means that one could not create an intended consequence by a certain action, it seldom stops there.

To many people it means that 'they are worthless' because the outcomes they wanted to create didn't materialise.

Failure can become big or small by the meaning we attribute to it.

The impact of failure could have consequences in reality to some extent.

However what is scaring is the suffering it creates in the person who faces the reality.

How one processes failure can create different coping mechanisms for each one of us:

  1. Some people fear failure, avoid it and protect themselves by not venturing into actions that could have a potential for failure. They tend to keep themselves in a constant state of fear of missing out (FOMO). Its limiting them in some way or form.

  2. Some people think that they are embracing the possibility of failure head-on, and later struggle with the consequences when it actualises and fail to move on and get stuck. They feel stagnant because of one thing that went wrong years ago.

  3. Some people accept failure as a possibility, do the required actions, face the consequences and come out with wisdom.

While coping mechanisms 1 & 2 can make us un-resourceful over a long period of time, coping mechanism 3 helps us build resilience.

How does one consciously create a mindset that makes the most out of failure?

  1. Internalising that action-doer and action don't have the same identity:

The creator and his creation are two different entities. A goldsmith creates ornaments. However he cannot become the ornament. Similarly the worker and his work are two different identities. The work you did may not have been successful. However it's still separate from you because you still hold the possibility of creating better work. However the work that is done is done. Why is this thinking helpful?

 It creates a space between who you are and what you do. In that space there is a greater potential of acceptance & future possibility than if the both were jumbled.

2. Understanding Absolute completion Vs Work In Progress (WIP):

While we can keep milestones to measure our work, it's just a tool of sense making. Life is always in a state of WIP: What existed yesterday may no longer be there now. What came today was not there yesterday. What exists today keeps changing.

At distinct points in time, it may look absolute like how a small unit of circle looks like a straight line if you magnify to see a point. However its forever flowing.

So in your mind, a logical completion may look like an "absolute" from where you may say it was a failure. However, that is not the whole picture.

For eg, learning never ceases after we pass our school examinations. Yet, we take examination marks as a measure of our learnability. If someone fails the school exam, are they a failure?

That is farther from the truth. There are enough examples of school drop outs who make it big in the world.

3. Knowing that the actual pain of the consequences is smaller than the suffering that is caused by the anxiety of it happening:

Contrary to popular belief, we have a huge tolerance for things not going our way. However we never know it until we are in circumstances that test our resilience. When rubber hits the road, we actually realise how good a tyre we have in our vehicle. Not driving with the fear of the tyre bursting/ accident limits our ability to live life fully. When and if the tyre actually gives away, we will have the capacity to manoeuvre the vehicle. We can prepare for it how much ever you want but can't stop driving the vehicle. The suffering of thinking about the tyre bursting far outweigh the pain when it actually does burst rarely.

4. Realising that there is freedom in letting-go:

When we pick a newspaper that is one month old and check how much of the news we read, we do remember still, we will only laugh about it.

Our mistakes stay like a blown up photograph in our mind only. The world moves on to the next exciting item. 

Nobody has the time and energy to keep an account of other's faults. Each have their own. So the ease of letting-go determines how we can get into a state of acceptance.

What mindset helps you to process failure in a way that elevates you?

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