“Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts”
– Winston Churchill
I have been wrestling with depression for a while; resulting in absence from work. I spent hours and hours on end beating myself up, convincing myself that I had ruined everything and I will continue to do so until I had nothing left.
Then one afternoon, during an all too often meltdown involving tears and screaming, where I cursed the world and lamented to my cut about how everyone hated me and what a waste of space I was, I then stopped. It’s like the normal Leah grabbed the emotional wreck of a Leah and said “You are the only person who sees yourself as a failure. You want to know what people say about you? What people think of you? They’re impressed because you never give up. You keep fighting. Sure you’ve had a lot of hard knocks in life so far, but you have always found something else to strive for. Yes, you are down at the moment, but you’ve been down before. People don’t say you’re a failure, they say they’re impressed by you because you give things a go. You put yourself out there and try. It’s a lot more than most people will ever do and that’s why you see yourself as a failure, because you’re human!”
That shocked me to the core and turned me into a sobbing mess, but it got me thinking. I was only a failure because that’s how I framed it.
That event was to be the catalyst that resulted in twisting my reality upside down. I decided that even though I had huge fight ahead and I will have hard days, I could control how I allowed my mind to spend its time. So I started watching comedy, listening to calming and positive music and reading. But I didn’t just read the books, I took notes, I implemented strategies, I researched anything that took my fancy and followed obscure leads into worlds I had only ever had vague interest in before. I flooded my life with all things self-help, religious, spiritual, health, business and life in general. And I noted down all the ideas that flowed to me.
What I discovered was that everyone who has had any success in life, when they get knocked down or take a wrong turn, they know how to re-frame their failure. This is something we can all do if we choose to and it is not as hard or complex as it may seem.
Firstly, you need to accept that you have a choice in how you use your thoughts. No one else lives inside your head except you. You can choose to relive your failure over and over, or you can choose to look toward the future, find new things to be excited about and keep your mind focused on expecting only good to come from what has happened. You need to accept that wallowing and beating yourself up are not going to change anything except your current quality of life.
Secondly, you need to remember that what you see as failure someone else will see in a completely different light. We all view the world differently so, for example, if you lost your job and you feel worthless, someone else, in the same situation, may choose to see it as the start of a new adventure or the opportunity to start that business of their dreams. Everyone sees things differently so try to see how others may view your situation.
Thirdly, find something new to dream about, strive for and aspire too. Start to read, start to research. If you are open to this happening you will find something, I promise. If you’ve had a relationship fail then consume books and articles that raise your self-esteem, if you failed at a diet then try surrounding yourself with things and thoughts that raise your level of self-love. There is always something you can do. Follow the little nagging feeling of intuition within you and walk along the paths that you may never have considered before. It could be the most exciting and rewarding thing you ever do.
Lastly, rid yourself of the idea of perfection. We all experience failure, we all experience setbacks. You just don’t know about everyone else’s. If you insist on perfection you will live a stagnant life filled with very little joy. So embrace rough-around-the-edges as a lifestyle choice. As a result, you’ll find yourself with less stress and a much more adventurous spirit. It will allow you to continue to put yourself out there and take chances on improving your life because you will know that imperfection is truth.
By using the above ideas I have slowly been able to claw my way out of the haze that I was living in and finally begin to feel a little like my old self again.
If you are going through something remotely similar, remember that you have the power within you to change how you see your failure. Chose to re-frame it to empower you and look towards the exciting future that lies ahead. If you still can’t find that exciting future, keep looking. Trust me, it’s there.
What are some of the ways that you have overcome or re-framed failure in your life? Please comment below, I’d love to know.