Breaking the failure/shame cycle on the path to success

It happens to all of us. Something doesn’t work out as we hoped and we feel like a failure. This then spirals down to shame. From shame we either withdraw and shut down, or tell stories to justify why, or take it all as our fault.

It’s no fun at all. And it is a tricky, nasty cycle.

The first action is to recognise that we do this. There will be signs, unique to you. You may feel sick, irritated, angry..or withdraw. You may become defensive. Reactionary. Examine exactly what path you take. Get to know it well. Awareness is critical to breaking this cycle.

When you become aware that you are in this cycle, note that awareness as a success.  You are one step closer to breaking the cycle. (it’s important to notice every success, even the smallest ones. People who feel like failures notice their failures far more than their successes.)

The second step needs to directly address your own pattern of response to failure.

If you justify your failure through stories, distraction, re-direction…then notice this. What are the other options you have in that moment of failure? What choices do you have, right there? Chances are you are not considering the majority of the choices that you may have and by doing this you limit your options…which leads you into deeper failure and a sense of helplessness.

If withdrawing and shutting down is your default, consider how you might re-engage. Probably consider reengaging in a completely different way. For example, help someone else out. Open a door, leave a tip, smile, carry someones bag….

If you put yourself at the centre of the failure…it’s all your fault, you are not able enough, good enough, smart enough, educated enough…or whatever particular brand of poison you wear, then consider what other choices you have, right now, to either turn this around or get on with doing something to help another person or change the interior conversation. I am a big advocate of moving your body. Get out and go for a walk. Go help someone. Watch a funny clip on You Tube. Take 20 to 30 seconds to really breath in something beautiful. (Like the photo of your child, your loved ones, a flower, the sun, the clouds, a painting.)

If we do not have strategies to handle our experience of failure we will never pick ourselves up and move to success.

Or to put it another way, really successful people are successful because they have learned to quickly move through failure.

 

Creative Commons License Gareth Williams via Compfight

 

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