By definition, the word failure has a negative connotation to imply “inability to perform; lack of success; a falling short” (Merriam-Webster, 2017). The idea that it can be re-imagined may be foreign to most of us, but the reality is that without failure there is no opportunity for success. That is, no opportunity to improve actions or behaviors without having something to compare it to or test against. As many of us have learned, and continue to learn, failure only becomes an absolute negative if we allow it to stunt our growth and prevent our efforts to reach success.
How to Stop Focusing on Your Mistakes and Failures
Reminiscing and thinking about past experiences can be a useful exercise to develop a healthy respect for things that have come and gone. As they say, learning from history is how you best plan for the future. However, if you find yourself constantly living in the past, ‘replaying’ events in your mind like a broken record, then this can be far more damaging than helpful. Constantly repeating mistakes in your head is not only an unpleasant experience, it is also a surefire way to make yourself feel less confident and less up for challenges in the future.
So, how do you stop doing that?
Learn to Value Your Mistakes
The first thing to do is to value your mistakes. Remember that mistakes teach us things, they make us stronger and wiser and they give our personal narratives a more interesting and more unique bent compared with others. It may not really be our successes that cause us to grow and develop, but our mistakes and each failure bring us one step closer to being the person we want to be.
Once you realize that your mistake has merit and value in itself, you can be a little more comfortable accepting it as part of your story.
Many of us focus on our failures and obsess over them because we feel frustrated at ourselves or even guilty. The key is to stop thinking of yourself as someone who needs to perform perfectly. Remember: you’re only human and mistakes are par for the course. They are acceptable and even to be expected. Once you take that on board, you can let them go. Ask yourself: would you beat someone else up if they had the same failure?
Learn to Let Go
Letting go of itself is something of an art form. If you’re someone who has a tendency to think and behave in an unhealthy, anxiety-driven way, then this is a skill that’s well worth learning. Try seeing a cognitive behavioral therapist, who is someone that can teach you the art of letting go and also of reframing your thoughts into a healthier, more positive way of thinking.
Look Forward & Move On
The next thing to do is to look forward and to remember that things are going to get better. You’ve had your mistake, so how are you going to learn from it and use it to drive yourself towards future victory?
Instead of thinking about how your last relationship or situation was a failure, focus on how you’re going to make the next one a success. Move on and be empowered!
Brittny C. Lyle, MAMFT, LPC, CPCS is the owner and CEO of BCL Clinical Solutions LLC, the home of Bold. Conscious. Leaders., a counseling and consulting practice that applies a clinical, systemic and solution-focused perspective to the growth and development of individuals, professionals, and organizations. Her mission is to share encouragement and expertise through authenticity, creativity, and practicality to educate and empower others, enhance personal and professional relationships, and redefine the term ‘holistic care’ in mental and behavioral health services.
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