The Art of Recovering from Failures

We have all been there, frustrated by exam results, discouraged by a rejection letter, or heartbroken because it’s not you, it’s them. Either professional or personal, failures are universal to human existence. Is there, then, a universal way of overcoming failures?

To grow from failures is to learn. It is a process that does not happen overnight. Yet mastering the art of recovering from failures is more than worthwhile. Mostly because experiencing failure can undermine our confidence, sense of self-worth, and overall happiness. 

Allow yourself to care

The reason why failures are hurtful is that you care. Negative feelings are a natural response in such a situation. And repressing or avoiding those emotions can be very damaging in the long run. Instead, acknowledge them, and recognize that it is sometimes okay to feel bad. 

What is more, focusing on your emotional response to failure will motivate you to put in even more work the next time. So don’t bend over backward trying to justify or rationalize the mistake. Allow yourself to heal, lick your wounds – and try again!

Pat yourself on the back

Embracing and accepting our emotions is the first step toward self-compassion. In the face of failure, practice being kind to yourself. Instead of putting yourself down, recognize that mistakes happen to everyone, and keep in mind that you are not alone.

Having compassion for yourself means to lend a helping hand – to yourself, as you would to a friend. What helps is trying to imagine what you would do if a friend was going through a similar situation. How would you treat them? Now try to do that for yourself.

Adopt a new attitude

Giving yourself enough time to heal allows you to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation with a clear head. Then, you can understand what went sideways and learn from the situation. Assuming such a mindset can help you realize that failure is sometimes a necessary evil. 

Accept that some matters are beyond your control – especially those that are behind us. Instead, try focusing on what lies ahead. Identify what’s at the root of a failure, set a new goal, and work out how to avoid walking into the same wall. 

Isolate the failure

Every human experience is a complex interface of actions and outcomes enframed by various circumstances. And failures are not an exception. Taking the specifics of a situation into consideration can help us rethink failure as an isolated event.

That’s not to say that you should assume outside forces as the sole culprit. Instead, reframe the failure as a minor setback – a small fraction of a much bigger picture. Accept that at the time, you did to the best of your abilities, and next time – you will do better.

The bottom line is that failures are an inevitable part of life. But what should never slip our mind is that it is not our failures that define us, but our ability to pick ourselves up and continue trying.

[1] “How to Recover from Failure.” World of Psychology [online] Available at: [Accessed on 7 Mar. 2020]

[2] “Here’s The Scientifically Proven Best Way To Recover From Your Failures.” Bustle [online] Available at: [Accessed on 7 Mar. 2020]

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