New Beginnings: 5 Steps to Starting Over After Experiencing Failure
New beginnings, a chance to start over when we’ve experienced failure. We all go through things in life, good and bad, that force us to stop in our tracks and re-evaluate our lives. We may plan and plan and plan for something but just because we plan doesn’t mean that things will work out. This is a hard reality to face and one that can leave us feeling like we have failed. When we are young we feel like we have so much time ahead of us and that making a mistake is not necessarily the end of the road. But as we get older we start to feel the pressure of time and that with each new adventure the stakes feel higher. This makes the experience of failure feel like such a deep loss and the fear that accompanies it can leave us feeling stuck.
Failure! A word loaded with so much meaning and judgement. We often believe that to be a failure is essentially to mean that we are bad or that we have done something wrong. When we experience failure we have so many negative thoughts and feelings about ourselves and thus are abilities. We place so much weight on our accomplishments and we often use our accomplishments to define who we are. This is the place where the message “you get what you deserve”kind of lives. If we fail we deserve bad things, if we succeed we deserve good things. This is why failure can have such a profound effect on us, leading to depression, anxiety, and even symptoms of trauma if not full blown PTSD.
Coming to Terms With the Wrong Choices Made
One of the hardest parts about failure, is not just about our plans not working out, but about the choices we make along the way. When we make the choice to go one direction in the moment it feels right. We feel hopeful and positive. But as time moves along and we don’t see the results we hope for, then we can start to question our judgement. This then extends to an overall questioning of our abilities and capabilities as we move through and try to accomplish our goals. In this prolonged state of being, we may experience depression, anxiety, and trauma symptoms as our sense of safety is threatened. Our resulting behavior is reflective in chronic deployment of the stress response system (Fight-Flight-Freeze).
In the moment, when we are going through failure, we may not be able to recognize that what we are experiencing is depression or anxiety. Instead we try to double down and force things to work rather than face the reality of things not going well. Again to admit that things are not going well or not going as planned conjures up thoughts about failure or fear that we are not enough.
Feeling Stuck, While Everyone Seems to Zoom Past
But the despite experiencing failure, whether that’s a project, business, or a relationship this doesn’t mean that we are failures or that we are destined to be stuck back at the starting line while everyone races around us. The hard part is sitting with all of the feelings that come along with failing and then deciding what our next steps will be. If it’s a relationship that’s not working, we might feel like a failure or that it’s your fault. The result from this experience is fear of opening our hearts again because you don’t want “fail again”. We may also question your self worth.
On the other hand if it’s a business venture that didn’t go well we may be tempted to give it up and go back to our day jobs. After putting our hearts and souls into our business (as well as time and money) it makes sense that we feel like we can’t hack it. Going back to a day job ensures that we have stability even if it means giving up on your dream. This can be hard to stomach.
Whatever path we choose we want to make sure that we’re not coming from a place of fear. This means that we’re going to have to deal with all of our feelings and thoughts that come along due to failure and find resolution around them. Only then can we choose what your next steps will be from a place of strength.
5 Steps to Starting Over After Experiencing Failure
#1 Address the feelings over past failures. We must deal (with our feelings and negative thoughts) in order to heal. Trying to suppress our discomfort may work temporarily but in the long run all that’s happening is avoidance. Avoidance brings temporary relief but if the feelings aren’t dealt with properly they will come out in other ways (usually as emotional outbursts). We must address it all in order to move on, and the key is to addressing this in a slow manner, not all at once.
#2 Decide on a direction to take and then be committed to that direction. It may be tempting to chuck it all and give up. To go back to our day jobs or toxic relationships because we believe this is all we deserve (after all you all ready failed). But this is your fear talking. The fear of the unknown and trying to protect us from pain. We can listen and acknowledge this fear without succumbing to it and allowing it to dictate our actions. This is why step one is so important because in processing our feelings we can come from a place of strength.
#3 Create a roadmap with new goals and plans. This can be exciting new adventure. As we try out a new plan or rework an old dream, that hope is still there. But along with the renewed hope is the knowledge and new experiences (from the past) that we can reflect on to see what worked and what didn’t. With this new information we can choose a new path and try out some other things that maybe we were afraid to try before.
#4 Share and seek support. Share your plan with the people in our lives who love and care about us (our support network). Don’t just share the hopes and the dreams but also our fears and reservations. Allow them to cheer us on and also to give advice. Don’t try to bottle it all up and solve problems on our own. These connections will help keep you grounded when things get tough.
#5 Implement the plan and follow dreams and know that there will be a lot more fear because of things not working out before. Although this fear is normal, our intentions are to not let the fear consume us if you are committed to making things work. Thank the fear for trying to protect us and then let it know that we are committed to making our plans work because we believe in ourselves.
Just because something we wanted or hoped for didn’t work out it doesn’t mean that we are failures. We may experience it as a failure or something that didn’t go as planned, but that doesn’t mean we are unworthy or underserving of good things in life. Life is a roller coaster, with ups and downs. We may plan for something, only for it to be interrupted by something else. This will impact us in many ways but we have choices about how we want to respond to this adversity. In order to find some resolution and move on we must acknowledge and accept our thoughts and feelings about what went wrong. From here we can create a new plan, using the new knowledge that we gained from past mistakes. Even though it can be a tough pill to swallow, by taking it head on, we have the power and confidence to follow the path that’s right for us.
These are just a few strategies, tips/steps, and recommendations! I hope you found this post helpful! I’d love to hear from you in the comment section!
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Until we connect again,
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