How Successful People Leverage Failure and Rejection

woman contemplating questions

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
— Michael Jordan

Dealing with Failure: Tips for Turning Setbacks into Success

We’ve all experienced the distress that comes with failure and rejection. It can be painful and hard to endure, but there are ways to use it to your advantage. By learning, building resiliency, and being determined, you can change the experience from a defeat into a pesky setback full of lessons.

Understanding the Emotions and Thoughts Behind Failure

Failure and rejection can cause feelings of disappointment, sadness, despair, anger, frustration, and anxiety. Thoughts can lead to self-loathing, self-pity, blame, regret, analysis paralysis, vengeance, the fantasy of better outcomes, and assumptions of letting others down. Being aware of these emotions and thoughts is the first step in managing them.

Managing Distressing Thoughts and Emotions: Tips for Success

Experiencing negative emotions and thoughts can be a challenging experience, but it can also provide valuable insights and opportunities for growth. Here are some tips to help you manage distressing thoughts and emotions effectively.

  1. Feel Your Emotions: All emotions are essential and are trying to help you, even the unpleasant ones. Pain wants relief. Fear wants safety. Confusion wants clarity. Allow yourself to feel your emotions fully, without judgment. Mindfulness can help you become more aware of what you need and how to get it.
  1. Name Your Emotions: When you name your emotions, you gain clarity and a better understanding of what discomfort is asking of you. Naming your feelings also helps you cut through the clutter of judgment.
  1. Examine Your Emotions: Being curious helps you keep an open mind, which can help you see ideas that you might have otherwise missed. Creativity is often an essential element of effectively examining feelings for lessons.
  1. Learn From Your Emotions: Failure can be a powerful teacher. Learning from mistakes and setbacks can help you grow and become better equipped to handle challenges in the future. Celebrate your successes, and don’t be afraid to learn from failures. Remember, sometimes it takes multiple attempts before we achieve success.
  1. Integrate Your Lessons: Integrating the lessons learned from your emotions into successful behavior change is crucial. Information acquisition is only the first step. Learning is the integration of that information into a new way of being. So, what we are going for is learning, not just taking in information.
  1. Reframe Your Experience: Look for the successful or interesting/fun parts of your experience, even if you are facing a failure or rejection. Celebrating your successes can give you a boost to get through the disappointment. This optimistic mindset also makes it easier to learn from future projects.
  1. Focus on What to Do: Apply the lessons learned from your experiences as a starting point for your next attempt. Instead of focusing on what not to do, look for obvious signs that might give you a signal of something going awry. When dealing with people, you might notice a stiffening up or a look of discomfort on the other person’s face. Taking time to ask colleagues and friends for their take can help you triangulate the information to use.
  1. Cultivate a Champion Mindset: Developing a champion mindset means embracing failure as an opportunity to learn and grow. It means examining mistakes and failures for lessons and remaining determined to keep learning. Adopting this approach can help you develop resilience, persistence, and grit. Remember, determination is the key to success.

Managing distressing thoughts and emotions is a process that requires patience, self-compassion, and persistence. With these tips, you can learn to manage your emotions and thoughts more effectively, embrace failure as a learning opportunity, and cultivate a champion mindset that will help you achieve your goals.

Learn more about Counseling in Austin.

Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s has worked in the helping profession since he started college in 1990. After completing his Bachelor’s degree at the University of Texas, Austin in 1994, he attended the highly-regarded University of Minnesota to earn his Master’s degree in 1997. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is recognized as a Board Approved Supervisor by the State of Texas Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors. Jonathan has completed Level-2 of the Gottman Method of Couples Counseling, and in 1998 received training by the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation in Advanced Critical Incident Stress Management & Debriefing. To learn more about Jonathan’s practice, click here: Jonathan F. Anderson, LPC-s.

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