“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” Nelson Mandela
The greatest challenge in life is picking yourself up from a downturn in life’s fortunes. Moreover, from there, either persisting in your chosen direction or changing tack entirely and doing something different. Unfortunately, we have been taught repeatedly in our formative years that ‘failure is not an option’, it is a ‘bad thing’ that proves our inadequacies and shows us up as a ‘loser’. It must be avoided at all costs. As a result, we allow failure of any kind to make us feel worthlessness, despairing and bitter. It erodes our confidence and leaves us with a deep sense of being a victim of life’s circumstances. This can lead to anxiety, resentment, depression and addictive tendencies which are hard to move beyond.
In contrast, resilience is a mental capacity to move through pain, suffering, unexpected change and hardship. With resilience, we can endure those experiences and come out the other side of them stronger, wiser and more connected to our inner truth. A resilient mindset enables us to view our failures, not as something wrong, but as just feedback on a path we have taken that hasn’t worked. It offers guidance that we need to do something different.
So how can we embody a mindset that failure is to be embraced, not avoided?
Here are some suggestions:
– Resilience is a choice. It is something we can choose every time we are up against our demons and suffering. Resilience means though, letting go of excuses, blame, judgement and self-pity. Instead, it embraces taking full responsibility for our role in the situation and our journey through it and beyond it to greater wisdom and happiness.
– If you don’t succeed, try again. With a resilient mindset, we are willing to try different routes to our chosen destination. We can keep taking action and bravely selecting risks. Some of those risks may not work out. Some will. However, we try them nonetheless. The critical mental approach is not to be put off by failure. It is to carry on despite it.
– Know the difference between knowledge and practice. Gaining knowledge is easy. We have information overload online. We can learn about anything for free these days. However, although it is easy to learn new tools, tips and ideas, putting them into practice is often another matter. To fully benefit from new approaches, we must connect intentions with actions. Moreover, balance learning with sustained practice. With practice, we integrate new tools into our psyche and, as a result, move towards success. So, to be more resilient: keep practising resilience.
– We are shaped by what we do. Everything we do, both good and bad, has a powerful effect of sculpting us for the better or worse. Whatever we spend time focusing upon too gets sucked powerfully into our psyches and creates grooves in our minds that affects our future experience as well as our present moment. It is worth reflecting on what ways your life experience has shaped who you are as a person, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Has it developed your resilience or eroded it?
– Have friendships that support your growth. Bonds with others come in so many shapes and sizes from work relationships with colleagues, companions built out of shared interests or hobbies, friendships where you enjoy each other’s company and connections with people that motivate and inspire you to your best achievement. All positive relationships are good, but having people who encourage you to grow and develop are essential to your resilience.
So, see if you can review your approach to failure and upgrade your mindset towards it. Know that to fail is not bad. It is part of learning, evolution and life itself. We all experience it. The only failure is not gaining from it and trying something different: a new approach, a new attitude and a stretching of your comfort zones and risk-taking muscles. Embrace a resilient mindset and see if that makes life seem a little easier.