If you read my last post, you’ll know that failure is one of the most common fears among artists, entrepreneurs, and just about everybody. Oftentimes, failure leaves us wounded, anxious, and unwilling to try again, which can lead down a dangerous path of self-destruction and despair.
Failure is understandably something many people attempt to avoid or resist, but for artists and makers it is particularly important to learn to embrace failure. As J. K. Rowling said:
It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case, you fail by default.
Failure is hard. Here are some strategies to help you bounce back.
Give Yourself Time To Be Sad
Okay, so I absolutely love the movie Inside Out. And you know what that movie teaches both children and adults? It is okay to be sad! We can even learn about ourselves and exhibit empathy when we’re sad!
Set aside one day, two days, or however long you need to feel disappointed. I recommend choosing an appropriate amount of time to be upset and sticking to it. Avoid setting aside more time than you actually need to feel sad, since dwelling on the failure won’t change the past, and you’re more likely to trap yourself in a never-ending cycle of negativity.
Once your grieving period is over, nudge Sadness out of the way a bit and allow Joy to guide you through the next step in your life.
Refresh Your Perspective
Once you’ve had time to be sad, come back to the situation with a fresh perspective and an open mind. Ask yourself what you learned from the experience and pinpoint ways in which you can grow as a person moving forward. Identify at least three positive things that came from the experience; they’ll help you find greater wisdom and appreciation.
Reorienting your perspective can also include reframing your goals in such a way that you ensure you always learn something from your endeavors. That way, no matter the outcome, the situation is never a one-hundred-percent failure.
Surround Yourself With Positive, Supportive People
It really helps to talk to the people who care about you most when you reach a low point in your life. By simply expressing your fears and frustrations, you will more likely than not start to feel a little better.
A word of caution, though: make sure when you talk to friends and family that you aren’t intentionally seeking out approval to nullify your failure. Don’t get me wrong–feeling encouraged, respected, and appreciated are great ways to motivate and inspire you after you’ve fallen on some hard times. Just be careful that you don’t rely so heavily on the opinions of others that you become dependent on their approval to validate your self-worth.
And if you don’t have anyone to talk to, take a look at your role models and the people who inspire you. Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, J. K. Rowling, Michael Jordan, Thomas Edison, Tina Fey—what do they have in common? They failed a lot. But would anyone consider them failures? No, because failure is what everyone encounters before they experience success.
There is no owner’s manual for this life, and even if there were, chances are we wouldn’t read it. We are going to make mistakes; we are going to fail.
The important thing to remember is that while we may identify our failures, we are not identified by our failures. You, dear reader, are not a failure just because you have failed at something in your life, and neither am I. Your situation may or may not be within your total control, but you are in control of your attitude and how you will approach similar circumstances in the future.
About Annamarie Bellegante
Born and raised in Des Moines, Annamarie Bellegante has been searching for a way to connect with the book publishing community within her beloved hometown and is absolutely thrilled to join Brain Mill Press. She currently works as a Content and SEO Strategist for a local web design company, but in her spare time she attends a monthly book club, volunteers at church, enjoys time with family and friends, and goes on many Skype dates with her boyfriend Tom, who is pursuing higher education in Colorado. An avid book reader and tea drinker, Anna loves all things relating to storytelling, language, editing, and humans. Her hobbies include spectating and participating in the performing arts, and she is a huge fan of semicolons and the Oxford comma. In spite of her usual hesitation of using superlatives, Anna strives to live each day according to the best song written by the best band: “All you need is love.”