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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Stone, LMHC

Failure or Learning Experience? You Decide.

In counseling sessions, negative thoughts and beliefs about oneself often come up; particularly around the perception of failure. I encourage people to consider this:

  • How do you define failure?

  • How do you let failure define you?

The way we think of our mistakes, setbacks, or slower than desired progress toward life millstones impacts us. What we think about ourselves and our experiences becomes ingrained in our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs about ourselves. What we focus on becomes reality. If we consider mistakes, setbacks, or slower progress to be "failures" then we often start to generalize that to the beliefs about ourselves, often resulting in negative self-talk, such as "I'm a failure" or "I'm not good enough." Certainly no one truly wants to think or feel this way. The good news is: This can be unlearned! Consider how you define failure. What does it mean? What does failure look like? How has it taken shape in your life? Does your perspective of failure meet the dictionary definition? Usually not. Now consider how you let failure define you. Do those mistakes mean you have truly failed as a rule? Or did you grow from the experience or learn to do something differently? At the very least, did you get through it? Chances are, yes. Finally, challenge yourself to consider the "exceptions to the rule." When are the times you've done well, progressed, or succeeded? You can find many if you choose to give those your time and attention. Now, I'll ask again: How do you define failure, and how do you let failure define you?



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