Failing hurts, and like a burn, when it happens, I want to put something on it to make it feel better fast.
The internet is filled with articles that give you steps to recover from failure. These articles don’t tell you how to stop hurting, but give you quick lists that tell you to learn from failure, to plan better next time and to think about Thomas Edison trying a thousand times before succeeding.
All well and good, but it didn’t stop me from hurting.
Then I found Guy Winch’s Ted Talk on practicing emotional first aid. You can view it here.
In this short talk, he discusses taking care of our emotions and minds with the same diligence we use for our bodies. When we get a cut, we put a bandage on to keep the wound from getting infected and getting worse. But when we suffer an emotional trauma, how do we treat that wound? I’m talking about the failure that falls into this category. The gut wrenching, think you’re going to die or wish you were dead kind of failure, the kind that you can’t just “shake off.” I got his book, “Emotional First Aid”, and immediately turned to the chapter on failure.
So, did it stop me from hurting? Some, which was a start, and it also gave me a better understanding of my personal failure. I recommend everyone read the book, not because it is a cure all, but because it does offer some practical strategies for dealing with some very common psychological injuries: Failure, Rejection, Loneliness, etc.
What I failed at isn’t relevant. (It could be I failed at the Knit the best Baby Beanie contest in my neighborhood.) What is relevant is how important it was to me to succeed and how I came up short of that goal. Some people will say to just shake it off, move on and or try again. Easy to do with the small, un-important things, but a lot harder to do with the goals and dreams that we put so much of ourselves into and when we’ve given every effort we have in us, what ever that goal may be. Having an emotional toolkit, like this book provides, is a great resource to have when shaking it off isn’t always possible.
What else did I do, beside read Guy Winch’s book, to stop the hurt?
- Treated myself gently – I slept more (not depression more sleep, more like the body recovering sleep.)
- Cut back on my schedule and activities – (I didn’t get up at four am to blog – Please forgive me.)
- I treated myself to some extras – the extra, long shower and a little more television.
- Kept writing my book – I’m on the last book in my series.
- Walked in the morning instead of run.
- Reviewed my past success.
- What I failed at wasn’t a total loss, there was a victory in it, and from that I have found great joy. I did something and it made a difference.
If you have any tips for taking the sting out of failure, please drop me an email or a comment. I hope all of you succeed at whatever it is you chose to pursue.