Recovering from Failure

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Everyone remembers at least one moment in their life where failure hit them, seemingly, in the heart like a ton of bricks. It takes your breath away and for a brief moment, our emotions are intense. Then we have to decide what comes next. And that, truth be told, is the hardest. Those emotions don’t go away and our brains remember that moment of failure the next time we are in the same or a similar situation. Psychology Today shares that failure makes the same goal seem less attainable and that it distorts our perceptions of our abilities. It also leads us to unconsciously self-sabotage ourselves in future activities.

Forbes emphasizes the clichés. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. When it rains it pours. I’ve always been taught that bad things happen in sets of 3. So when one, two bad things happen my body and brain go into “here it comes” mode and waits in annoying anticipation for the third and final bad thing. Research suggests, perhaps, that we bring this on ourselves unconsciously.

We’ve all heard those clichés. And we have experienced these moments in our lives. Forbes focuses on “The Loser Effect” which is based in research in which monkeys that made a mistake, even after mastering a task, later performed worse than the monkeys that made no mistakes. This suggested that the monkeys were thrown off by the mistakes, which is opposite of us thinking that they should have learned from the mistake. Other research, according to Forbes, suggests that failure impedes our concentration and sabotages our future performance. Forbes put it best when they said that when we fail, our brains say “Abandon Ship!” How many of us have been there? “I failed. I’m done.” End of goal.

So how do we succeed after failure? According to Forbes, it helps to not fixate on our failure. Internalizing it makes it worse when we try future tasks. This is that self-sabotage we were talking about earlier. It’s important to re-frame our thoughts and beliefs about the failure and re-imagine it. Our memory changes each time we recall something, so re-framing can help us see the failure in a more positive light with very little effort. Setting specific goals and celebrating the small successes help with moving forward, according to Forbes. Failure, according to the article, can become a memory or a habit. Which will you choose?



Forbes. This is What Happens to Your Brain When You Fail and How to Fix it. Retrieved from:

Psychology Today. 10 Surprising Facts About Failure. Retrieved from: