How to Handle Failure in Any Area of Life

How to Handle Failure in Any Area of Life

Failing can be devastating, regardless of whether you’re denied a promotion in the workplace or if you don’t qualify for a particular race. Many people will go to great efforts to avoid making mistakes so they don’t feel any pain.

There could be many reasons that you feel like you are failing. These factors could be contributing to your feeling of failure:

  • Unrealistic hopes
  • Poor self-concept
  • A feeling of hopelessness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling dreadful
  • Anxiety
  • Comparing your work with others
  • Negative self-talk
  • Depression

If you find yourself thinking about your past failures, you need to realize that there are things you could do to feel better. Understanding how to deal constructively with failure can help take some of your fears out. 

1. Accept a Good Responsibility Level.

You should not look for excuses but explanations when looking at your failure. Recognize what went wrong and how you can improve the next time.

Accepting full responsibility for your failure is crucial. It is possible to take on too many responsibilities and end up blaming yourself. Blaming other people and unfortunate circumstances for your failures will not help you learn from them.

2. Create a Plan for Moving Ahead.

Take your new insights and make a plan for what you’ll change next time. Put the information you’ve learned into a plan.

Once you identify your mistakes and the lessons you can learn, you can start to plan how you want to move forward. Rehashing past mistakes or dwelling on them will only make you more stuck. You should stop thinking about yourself as a failure and instead focus on your potential for success.

3. Accept Your Irrational Beliefs About Failing.

There are likely to have been some irrational beliefs you had about failure at one time or another in your lifetime. Perhaps failure is an indicator that you’re not good enough or that you won’t succeed. You might even believe failure is a sign of weakness or inability to succeed.

These beliefs can make it difficult to achieve goals that might be possible. Recognize any irrational beliefs affecting your behavior or feelings. 

4. Get out of Your Comfort Zone

Practice stepping outside your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid of trying things that may get you disqualified or fail. Over time you will discover that failure does not have to be as devastating as you may think. It will help to learn how to deal with your fear of failing in a productive manner that can help you achieve your goals.

It can feel scary to face failure if you’ve lived your whole life trying to avoid it. To reduce discomfort, it is important to face your fears.

5. Use Healthy Coping Tactics.

Create a list to help you overcome bad habits like smoking or eating junk food when you are stressed. Keep it handy and prominently displayed. Your list can be used to remind you about healthier ways to cope with stress when you feel bad.

Coping with stress is not a good idea. A few healthy ways to cope are calling a friend, practicing deep breathing, walking, taking a bath, playing with your pet, and going for a run. However, not all coping strategies work for everyone. 

6. Research Famous Failed Ideas.

Look at what they did and how you can bounce back. It is possible to pick up skills that could help you in the future. It can be helpful for you to recognize that failure is something we all deal with.

Many successful people still fail every day. Actors and athletes are rejected, business owners turn down deals, and actors get turned down for roles.

Perform some research on famous people who have experienced failure. You’ll probably find out that they did it many times.

7. Support Your Emotions.

Feeling bad can motivate you. This will motivate you to look for better solutions and help you improve your performance next time. 

A variety of emotions accompany failure, including shame, anger, and sadness. These feelings are not pleasant and many people will do what they can to avoid them.

A 2017 study published by the Journal of Behavioral Decision Making states that it is not a good idea to try and forget your feelings of failure. Researchers found that thinking about emotions rather than failure is more beneficial.  

You can embrace your emotions. Let yourself feel sorry for a moment and acknowledge what you are feeling. For example, yo might be thinking you’re frustrated or you’re sad that it didn’t work out for you as expected.

8. Ask Yourself: What Can You Learn?

Instead of viewing failures as a burden, view them as stepping stones towards your goals.

You can think of what you could have done differently next time. Then you can make sure your failures are a learning opportunity that helps you.

Failure can be a powerful teacher if you’re open and willing to learn. What was your mistake? Did you make a series of mistakes?

9. Develop Intelligent Thoughts about Failure.

In order to overcome negative thoughts, you may need to repeat the affirmation or phrase to remind yourself of your ability to bounce back.

You might think you are hopeless or that there is no point in trying again. Reframe your thoughts. Keep these things in mind when you think about failing:

Failure is an indication that:

  • I am trying hard.
  • I can handle failure.
  • I can learn a lot from my failures.

Clinical Psychology Review published a review in 2016 of 46 studies on reactions to failure. This is a way of saying that more people see the failure as an external event and not something they are responsible for.

10. Recognize Unhealthy Attempts to Decrease Pain.

Recognize your unhealthy ways of trying to reduce or avoid pain. Doing more harm than good with your coping methods will only make the situation worse. 

It’s tempting to say that you didn’t want the job, but it won’t make your pain disappear. It won’t help your pain to try and distract yourself, or fill the void that you feel with alcohol, drugs, or food. They will only provide temporary relief.


Sometimes, failure becomes debilitating. Seek professional help if your ability to function is impaired after a failed attempt at something. Talking with a mental healthcare professional can help you bounce back, regardless of whether you have experienced a failure in your business.

2 thoughts on “How to Handle Failure in Any Area of Life”

  1. I once read a book that talked a lot about failure and really what failure means. It mentioned Abraham Lincoln and detailed how he failed in many endeavors before finally becoming one of the best presidents of the United States. It also mentioned that a reporter interviewed Thomas Edison and asked if he ever wanted to give up after failing to make the light bulb 10,000 times. Thomas Edison said that he didn’t fail 10,000 times, he found out 10,000 ways that it would not work. That’s a really good way to look at it.

    1. AL.S., thanks so much for sharing the story of those extraordinary men. Their examples, courage, and determinations in handling setbacks, and failures were remarkable! Their legacy endures from generation to generation. 

      The best way to fail is to fail forward. That’s just the whole point. You fail forward when you’re able to achieve your goals – dreams despite all odds against your success. If the person preservers till the end, the story will be changed.

      Again, thanks for the valuable comment.

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