A failed marriage, broken friendships, and bankrupted start-ups form part of the various lessons that life has to teach us. We often tag those as failures or rejections and most of the time, we let go of such an opportunity to reinvent our own being. Instead, due to mediocre self-control, our emotions (at most negative ones) tend to submerge us into optimum discomfort. In a world strifed by mass decimation and stagflation, today’s question still arises: how can failure shape one’s life?
The human mind is one of the biggest assets to be cherished. However, one driving force that can either lead to its damage or empowerment is the emotional quotient. If negatively perceived, failures as in relationships or academics have the tendency to feed self-doubts and dark thought patterns. A negative coping mechanism including the consumption of alcohol or drugs in early years can entail severe addictions and further abuse; anxiety, stress and loneliness increase the probability of depression and poor self-esteem. Subsequently as the mind lacks clarity and is rather clouded by misery, a vicious pattern is depicted. In Japan, a growing fraction of the population, around 1.2%, is choosing isolation over an active social life; such a phase is known as Hikikomori of which failure to adapt to societal norms or to other given standards is seen.
On the rebuttal side, failures can bring along a much-needed enlightenment. When the focus is laid on the lessons to be learnt rather than the hurt, we assimilate the art of self-awareness. Instead of reacting on impulse, we choose to respond to situations; this moment can be tagged as in “the mind being greater than the emotions”. Indeed, we rely upon logic and better approach the situation in a growth mindset. Moreover, failures assist us in being more open-minded and vulnerable. Through such a phase, self-discovery is crucial while adopting other strategies is primordial to achieve better results. Core values such as perseverance, leadership and empathy are consequently learned.
Bangambiki Habyarimana, a Rwandan author, once put forward “Failure is the raw material from which success is made.” Indeed, one key question that we need to ask ourselves post-failure is “why it didn’t work out?”. Getting to the root cause will permit the us to identify the weaknesses and find conducive solutions. Podcasts by Jay Shetty, TedTalks, MindValley amongst others have outlined the necessity to reshape oneself on the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects at each and every encounter with failure to better bounce back. The challenges may lie upon the current mindset adopted, our response to criticism, the strategies employed or our lack of compassion/communication in a highly materialistic world. In my opinion, for success to be attained, the mind, body and spirit should be in equilibrium. Our ego is a double-edged sword, our biggest foe or dearest friend. It defines our pathway in whichever goal we undertake; it is our shield in dire times or the main reason behind being biased. If put aside, we can be a learner and embrace humility at any step. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that such a precious tool plays in our favor.
One reproach towards the prevailing school system is that little to no pieces of advice are provided to learners when dealing with rejections and failures. Upon the right guidance, we can no doubt achieve our best potential. A few recommendations (from my own personal experience) are listed below:
Embrace the emotions, be it a negative (anger) or positive (happiness) one
Nothing is worse than escaping how one feels. Instead, grab the bull by the horns and sink in the emotional discomfort. This can be the main driving force behind your motivation.
Become more self-aware.
We often cannot resist temptations. However, a negative coping mechanism will only keep us off track of a healthy life. It is crucial to keep our attempts to reduce pain in check and opt for sound distractions as in playing sports (Tennis or the gym) or talking to someone trustworthy for self-relief and keeping the insanity at bay.
Expand the perspectives upon failure
Rather than following the “norm”, we should have broader definition(s) of the word “failure”. For the orthodox society, it simply portrays the unfulfillment of certain expectations, that too on a blind note. However, failure unveils a hidden gem in us – that of perseverance for deeper meaning and to strive better.
Ask yourself what you can learn more from the experience
Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or even the Wright brothers have failed countless times behind the world’s greatest inventions – Microsoft, Apple, or the aircraft. Yet, they emerged victoriously with enhanced and realistic visions which life lessons have moulded.
Conclusively, it is all in the mind. With a positive approach, failures can do more good than harm! Life is a game whereby it is our responsibility to uplevel our interests and resurrect from the ashes. It is high time for us, students, to savor such a step!
Contributor: Jayalaxmi Carooppunnen