Why failure can be great for success

Many of us are plagued with a fear of failure; it creeps into our everyday lives, masking itself as something positive, a means to keep moving forward, when in reality it does the exact opposite.

And it’s safe to say no one likes failure.

As an international student, you’re bound to face some hardships during your time abroad, battling failures both inside and out of your studies. But how best to cope with them?

After numerous graduate school rejections, now-business owner Tchiki Davis wrote for Psychology Today her three best ways to overcome failure. Now with a PhD and small business under her belt, Davis sees that each failure can be used as a learning experience.

“Failure shows that we’re taking risks—risks that can either result in failure or pay off big. By being willing to take these risks, we make it possible to experience great success,” Davis wrote.

There’s no denying it: failure triggers negative emotions. But change your perspective and you’ll be amazed at just how much you can accomplish, simply by turning that energy into a positive force.

1. Find the silver lining

When you fail it might feel like absolutely no good could possibly come of it, but dig deep and you will find some benefits.

Have a look back on times you failed before – perhaps you flunked an exam or you were not accepted into your first choice university – and see if you can pick out some positives in amongst all that negativity.

Ask yourself: What did I learn from it? Did it make me realise anything?

Write down three things you learned or realised about that situation in retrospect and reflect upon them. You’ll turn negative experiences into positive ones and if you practice doing this with your past failings, you might find you learn how to see the good in current failings as and when they happen.

There is bound to be a silver lining if you look hard enough. Source: GIPHY.

Next, ask yourself whether you have made any changes in order to reduce the likelihood of similar failures occurring and if not see what you can do now.

2. View failure as a challenge

Ultimately, how you approach stress as a reaction to the fear of failure is down to you. It is hardwired into us to define stress as a threat, for our bodies to become tense, our emotions heightened.

When you feel this start to happen, actively address and work towards changing your attitude toward the stress, telling yourself it is a challenge not the dawning of failure.

If you view it this way, you will feel more ready to handle whatever life throws at you next. Plus, Davis added, you’ll feel much calmer – you are less likely to ironically panic yourself so much over the possibility of failure that you fail.

Davis explained the way to develop this ‘challenge’ mindset is through reflection on challenges you have faced before – and came out the other side of intact.

If you are concerned about an exam, think back to exams you sat for in the past. Think about how you handled them, what went well and what went not so well. That one exam you failed probably made you feel pretty bad at the time but if you remind yourself you overcame it, you should start to feel like the one in front of you is not so daunting.

The next step is to visualise yourself succeeding – cue positive feelings which are bound to help you get there. However, go the other route and as your fear of failure increases, so do your chances of failing, Davis explained.

3. Be kind to yourself

You are human and there is only one of you, so you cannot possibly expect to succeed all the time.

When people experience failure, they tend to be rather cruel to themselves, putting themselves down. But remind yourself failure is an inevitable part of being human.

Show yourself the same love and compassion you would show a friend and you will find yourself more open and ready to accept and acknowledge your mistakes and improve upon them in the future.

So instead of beating yourself up, practice self-care which can be anything which makes you feel good, such as running yourself a nice bath and curling up with a book or meeting up with a friend who always cheers you up.

Maybe for you, self-care is listening to a new album or hitting the gym. Whatever makes you feel great – do it! You might be surprised just how much good being kind to yourself can do for you.

Calmer you equals more focused you and more focused equals higher chances of success. You got this!

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