The Wounds of Failure

You can spend your whole life building somethin’ from nothin’. One storm can come and blow it all away. Build it anyway.” – Martina McBride

 

We all have been there at some point: We give our best, we try the hardest and we expect for the best; yet, nothing we do seems to be enough and the end results are far from optimal.

Discouragement is inevitable.

What do we do when our best is not good enough?

Of Failing and Failures

First of all, let’s set one thing clear: Failing does not mean being a failure. EVERYONE fails. Even those whom you admire the most have failed a great deal, because nothing meaningful is achieved without failing.

The fact that you have failed means that you have not figured out (yet) the correct set of actions needed to achieve a particular goal. But true failure only comes when we give up, when we do not try again. As long as you keep standing up and looking for a new way to get from point A (where you are right now) to point B (where you want to be), failure is not even a possibility.

 

Time to Grieve

When we give our 100% and yet we fail (sometimes repeatedly), we cannot avoid feeling discouraged about ourselves and (in some cases) about everyone and everything else. This stage is best described by a sense of hopelessness.

This is particularly common when we face what we believe to be the end of a dream, whether in the way of the ending of a relationship, a professional goal that is not longer viable by factors outside of our control or desire or by the impossibility to achieve a personal goal. In extreme cases this can be compared to the death of a loved one.

The ending of a long-term relationship means not only the end of the physical connection between two persons, but also the end of a lifetime of plans together, the end of many projects and dreams and also the end of the person we were previous the break up. We, as individual, are changed by the end of the relationship. We are forced to reinvent ourselves, and when we do not know how to do this, or when we believe we are unfit for such task, we can sink into despair.

In the same way, even when not everybody can relate to this, the ending of a professional relationship or an enterprise can be as traumatic as the end of a romantic connection. Many people invest as much time, effort and emotional commitment to their careers, as others in their personal relationships.

An accident can be just as traumatic, not only physically, but also emotionally. We can be forced to experience life in a way unknown to us.

It is only logical that such traumatic experiences come with its fair share of grief. Because that is precisely what we experience after a these particularly hurtful moments: The death of life as we knew it.

 

How Many Times Will It Take To Get It Right?

Often we wonder if it would serve any good to try again. Especially when we have tried and failed more than once.

At this point it is of utmost importance to acknowledge that our past experiences (even, and especially, the not-so-pleasing ones) have served a purpose: We are now stronger and wiser that what we were before. We know more now than what we knew before.

Never forget that improvement is not measured by the distance between where you currently stand and the finish line, but by the distance between where you currently stand and your starting point.

 

Healing is the Way

Before we can start to heal, we must acknowledge some things that we often forget:

We cannot undo the past: No matter how bad our mistakes might have been, no matter how much we might have hurt those we love, no matter how much effort and time we might have wasted, there is no way to change the past. What’s gone, it’s gone. It’s natural that we grieve for a period of time, but no amount of regret will change what have been. Forward is the only way, and the sooner we accept this, the sooner we will heal.

We deserve to heal: Often we cling to regret or resentment as a mean of punishing ourselves for the times we have failed. Sometimes we feel we don’t deserve to feel better. But we do.

It will get better: Time heals everything, they say. And it does, as long as we are willing to allow our wounds to heal. Be patient with yourselves and your flaws. If you feel defeated, then allow yourself to feel defeated for a period of time, but also allow yourself to heal when the time is right.

 

We all fail, and it always feels bad. We might know we can make the best out of our failures, and sometimes, with time, we might even acknowledge that our failures were a blessing in disguise; but it always feels bad at first. Even worse when we have invested everything we have, whether physically or emotionally, and when we have lost it all.

Understanding that failing is a natural phase of life is important, but it is also important to understand that big failures come with an emotional fee that we might have to pay before we can get better.

The next time you fail, and feel bad about it, remember is not the end of the world, but also give yourself time and space to heal naturally.

 

If you liked this article, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section, or shoot me an email to jlara@thegoodvader.com if you are shy! I read and answer every email.

We can also connect through Twitter at @juls0013.

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36 Comments

  1. I have to run for now, but wanted to let you know how much this meant to me. I was just forced to look through a huge folder of paperwork, divorces, letters to ex-spouses dealing with issues of custody, etc. Before it was over I was on the couch crying uncontrollably. I was reminded of my failed marriages. I was reminded of how much cost was involved, especially when it concerns my children. Then I open up Word Press and the first thing I see it your post. I can’t wait to get home and read again, but had to let you know how much I appreciate your post. Thanks! jrenee

    • Your comment also means a lot to me Jnree. I’m extremely happy that I was of any help in any way, even if it was by helping take your mind await from negative thoughts for a second. I have read your blog and it is obvious to me that your are not only a survivor, but a warrior. Keep moving forward friend!

  2. This a a wonderful, timely post Julio. I’ve shared it with my writer’s group.

  3. Words for the wise.

  4. I love this post. So many people walk around talking about how you need to just dust yourself off and get back in the game. It’s not always that simple, and you’ve done a great job of addressing the issue. Keep up the good work!

    • Dusting off is not a bad advice, but we cannot ignore the fact that sometimes it takes a little longer, and that’s perfectly fine. Putting pressure on closing a wound we are not ready to close ends up doing more harm than good. Thank your for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Hi Julio,

    I appreciate this relevant post. Sometimes life just happens and when we get knocked down, we just have to get back up because it’s life and it’s how things happen. It’s hard but if you set your mind to it, it’s possible. And it’s worth it.

    Luna

  6. “Build it anyway.” Boy, I always need to be reminded of the points in this post. Almost EVERY time I screw up, or get knocked down, or get hurt, or a good thing dies, I say “Never, never, never again.” But eventually, of course, the only thing to do is pick yourself up and get out there again (whether at work, in a relationship, with family, whatever.) A hard lesson to learn; one I must keep learning over and over and over again.

    • It happens to all of us, that’s why we must keep around us people who reminds us that being alive is an amazing gift! Thank your for sharing your thoughts!

  7. I think you’ve captured the essence of failure perfectly in this post, I loved it.

  8. Inspiring and edifying post. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I definitely appreciate this read, thank you for taking the time to write this up. One of the things that I learned is that failing to succeed does not mean failing to progress.

    • That’s right Justin. And we often confuse both things and end up beating ourselves up. It can become a negative loop unless we take action!

  10. Well done Julio, very interesting post. And I must say, you have very rich contents on this blog.

  11. Another great post!

  12. Thank you for enjoying my Build up, Don’t Tear Down blog. But don’t be a stranger. I’ll read more from your blog too. Take care now.

  13. This comes at a time when I cling to the past. I need to heal. Truth is, in the past 2yrs I experienced it all – business failure, accident and sometimes it feels like I’m failing as a mom. Thanx for reminding me that there’s a difference between failing and failure… I am not a failure!

    • I’m glad you found value here. The most important thing to remember is that to fail is to grow. But we have to make that decision. Once we do, we become unstoppable! Thank your for sharing your thoughts.

  14. There’s a great deal of truth and wisdom here.

    Learning from failure is what makes a person wise; failing to learn from a difficult situation is what keeps us tied to the past and holds us back – we do so by our own hand. Nobody can make you feel or be this or that unless you permit them to do so. There is beauty in failure when it teaches you something about yourself that allows you to grow and move on.

    No, it’s not easy and some situations can be too much to handle and there lies total loss – the loss of self. People drown under the weight of it and under the expectation, of people who should know and understand them better, that they should not be labouring under whatever it is that’s dragging them down. People die emotionally and then physically. It’s a tragedy played out every day and everywhere…

    But there is hope. We can find it within ourselves, when we have support or even when we read something that makes us see we are not alone with these feelings, that we can push through and stand tall again. In the depths we don’t believe it but it can and does happen.

    People will always fail, will always trip up and stumble. The point is to know you can and will get back up and be a stronger, wiser, healthier person for learning to accept that failure does not mean that you’re backed into a corner with no way out.

    • Thank you for such amazing words! Learning from failure is not always easy, but when we make the conscious decision to learn and to grow we have taken a step in the right direction.

  15. “My greatest concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.” Abraham Lincoln

  16. Someone said, “Failure is the back door to success.” Julio, I appreciate your spot on insights and encouragement. Keep lookin’ up!!

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