Feeling Like a Failure - 5 Ways to Feel More Successful Without Doing Anything Remarkable
By Susan Meindl
Platinum Quality Author
Consider the possibility that you are not actually a failure.
How much of your sense of failure is related to the standards against which you are judging yourself? It may be worth considering whether you are looking at yourself through an appropriate lens. You can become a success overnight if you are willing to use a different set of criteria!
(1) Choose non-materialistic standards for success. It is heartbreaking to see how many people judge themselves failures because they are not rich enough, famous enough or thin enough. Success and failure are not limited to three simple categories. Every domain of human experience, intellectual, physical, relational and spiritual contains opportunities for success. It is a mistake to define the categories of human success too narrowly. If you look, you will probably find that you excel in many important human areas of experience.
(2) Cultivate the valiant attempt. Accept failure as an honestly paid price in the name of learning, skill development and deeper understanding. Many important projects require several false starts, detours or successive approximations before they bear fruit.
(3) Cultivate the ability to be a good loser or a good sport. Being graceful in defeat is a much admired quality of character. Entertainingly, it means that one can even succeed at failing.
(4) Believe in your resilience. Hang on to your belief that you can recover from disappointments mistakes and failures. Change your perspective...Adopt a longer time frame ...Will this failure still feel important in a year? In ten years? Does it really affect the opinion of those people most emotionally important to you?
(5) Develop a sense of humor about yourself, your standards, your efforts and your eventual success and failure. Often fear of failure is entangled with a fear of being laughed at or ridiculed. Having a sense of humor about yourself lets you laugh with others and detoxifies the experience.
An Ultimate Irony
Many highly talented, creative and extremely capable people feel like failures unnecessarily. Sometimes the inappropriate and exaggerated standards against which they propose to judge themselves are so daunting that they find themselves unable even to start their projects.
Fear of failure often drives perfectionistic behavior.
Perfectionism is not the same as "desire for excellence." Perfectionism is actually a defensive attempt to ward off criticism or struggle. Too often perfectionists will not tackle genuinely challenging projects because they prefer to stay in areas of work where they can be almost absolutely certain to succeed. This means that they work well below what their true level would be if they would risk imperfect or unsuccessful experiences in the name of developing their potential.
Ironically these "successful" individuals may feel like failures despite nearly perfect track records... because on some level they know that they have never really tried. Even if everyone else is impressed, they know that they are always pulling their punches and offering less than their best.
Paradoxically therefore, it is even possible for success to be a personal failure from the perspective of what might have been possible if the individual had been more prepared to fail.
Susan Meindl, MA, is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Montreal Canada. She has a special interest in Jungian ideas and practices a Jungian approach to psychodynamic psychotherapy
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