Why do I feel like a failure at everything I do? Is it true? Am I really a failure? If you’ve ever asked yourself these or similar questions read on.
Because we’re about to uncover the truth about failure.
That it doesn’t exist.
Our past story doesn’t need to be our future story.
And every success is built on a mountain of failures. In the light of success, they’re re-labelled experiences because of the subsequent hit.
But regardless of what happens next, we haven’t failed unless we say we have.
So don’t let failure be a part of your vocabulary. Instead, reframe the thought to something more empowering, like I haven’t found my niche yet.
Or I haven’t discovered my perfect home yet.
I haven’t made my ideal income yet.
And join me on a journey as we look through reasons why many of us feel like a failure, even though we aren’t.
Related article: 9 Secrets to Unlock Your Potential For Success
14 Reasons You Think You’re a Failure (But You’re Not)
Or maybe you’re continually seeking external validation because you don’t feel like you’re good enough without people’s approval.
Whatever our situation, the source of feeling like a failure comes from our thoughts about ourselves.
So when we can identify why we’re judging ourselves as being a failure, then we can transform our beliefs and enjoy our share of success.
Here are 14 common reasons; how many resonate with you?
- comparing yourself to others
- having unrealistic expectations
- focussing on the negatives in life (half-empty syndrome)
- indulging in continual self-criticism
- harbouring a fear of failure
- working from childhood conditioning
- repeating the same mistakes (not learning from them)
- believing in social media perfection
- not giving yourself enough self-love and compassion
- allowing imposter syndrome to get the upper hand
- fear of failure
- being a perfectionist
- not knowing that failure is a stepping stone to success
The Impact of Comparison and Self-Perception
When we compare ourselves with other people who we perceive to be better, smarter, luckier or more successful than we are, we forget one vital thing.
We’re judging them on OUR perception of them, not on who they truly are.
Every single person in the world has their insecurities to overcome. Every single person has their fears, joys, worries and beliefs.
And we come along and look at them as though they were perfect, as though they were somehow worth more than we are.
And we diminish our belief in ourselves by comparing ourselves to an unrealistic image of another person.
If you tend to do this, remind yourself that there is nobody better than you, not in the whole world.
Another thing we tend to do which can hinder our progress is to become a people-pleaser because we want to keep everybody happy.
Do you subconsciously want everybody to like you?
Even by becoming aware of these tendencies, you can change them and empower yourself for success.
Setting Unrealistic Expectations
If we expect to leap 100 steps away from where we are, we may fail in our journey because of setting unrealistic expectations about our progress.
And that sets us up for disappointment.
It’s fine to know our direction is 100 steps away as long as we focus on the next step which is just ONE step away.
This is a common reason why so many of us fail to reach our goals.
Because instead of taking one step forward and discovering the future goal after taking 100 steps, we expect to be able to jump from A to Z in one leap.
So we spring eagerly from A and think we’ve failed when we land on B instead of on Z.
No matter where we are in life, progress will only take us to the next step on the ladder.
And when we recognise that fact, we can become more resilient and less likely to give up along the way.
We re-frame our expectations and celebrate the small successes along the way.
And those small successes turn into big wins over time.
Focusing Always on the Negative
If we focus always on the negative, we may not see the progress we’re making and we may be more likely to give up sooner.
We say something hasn’t worked just because we fail to take into account all of the little benefits we gained from that catastrophe.
We don’t allow ourselves to call out the good in the middle of a crisis but it’s a mistake to think that we’re doing our duty to mourn and wallow in all the things that go wrong.
Instead become like a detective, seeking the wins among the disappointment.
Much like self-esteem, many of us are unaware that we’re constantly criticising ourselves.
Pay attention to your inner speech.
Sometimes we find that when we stop to listen to our inner voices, we get surprises we never expected.
We may find that we’re critical of our minds or our brains or our bodies.
For example, do you fully love and accept your body, and recognise that it’s a beautiful, incredible vehicle? More powerful in fact, than an Apple Macbook Pro?
Would you talk to your best friends the way you talk to yourself?
If the answer is no, you can be sure that you’re being too hard on yourself.
Compassion for your own mistakes is crucial in being able to get up and carry on.
Fear of Failure
When we realise that failure is an inevitable part of the journey, we can stop fearing it and begin to accept it for what it is – an experience which will teach us something.
Most of our difficult moments bring with them our greatest learnings and moments of progress.
Childhood Trauma Affecting Present Success
We may have deep limiting beliefs which stem from previous experiences either during our childhood or since, and these limiting beliefs affect every single thought process, every single feeling and every single action we take thereafter.
The problem is, we may not even recognise that we are acting from these past experiences.
One way to identify and reframe limiting beliefs from childhood conditioning or trauma is through mindset coaching.
During the coaching, we don’t dig deeply into the past, but we dig deeply into the driving force of today and often an event from the past will pop up, sometimes as a complete surprise to the client.
‘I thought I’d finished with that!’ or similar comments are not uncommon during coaching sessions.
If coaching doesn’t resonate with you, try to be aware of your limiting beliefs and shift them to more empowering thoughts so that you can claim the future you truly desire.
Learning From Mistakes
There’s a saying I love, and it goes like this:
If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.Jessie Potter 1981
In other words, if we don’t change, neither does the reality around us. The same is true for making a fortune, finding a new job, building a relationship or any other major life change.
We have to transform ourselves on the inside and think thoughts which are in alignment with what we seek in order to receive it.
And a crucial time to notice our behaviour and our thinking patterns is when we make mistakes.
Because mistakes always, yes always, have something we can learn from them.
And when you learn from them, you change your thinking pattern, which alters your behaviour and you create different results.
Believing The Lie of Social Media
Some of us are aware that the beauty and perfection of social media aren’t really true.
But for others, we may find ourselves buying into that image of perfection and judging ourselves as being a failure in comparison.
This also reflects when we compare ourselves to others, but it’s particularly disturbing if we choose to focus on a person’s public image in social media.
Because that isn’t REAL.
It’s just a pretty reflection of a perfect story built around another human being who has their own set of troubles, just like you do.
And while they may enjoy more wealth than we do, for example, that isn’t a reason to feel less successful than they are.
We are all at different stages of our journey and we’re all on our own unique path, so comparison to another person on social media is a flawed error in every way.
Embracing Self-Love and Self Confidence
Self-love automatically creates a feeling of success. Because as we develop our own respect and appreciation for ourselves, we recognise just how much we have to be thankful and joyful about.
And what we feel we attract.
So by feeling gratitude, we pull more reasons for gratitude into our lives.
Feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy are so normal for many of us that we don’t even realise we have them.
And these feelings can lead to us giving up much sooner than we would otherwise do. Because we believe we’re no good, so at the first sign of trouble we quit.
But by building more self-confidence and learning to love ourselves we can change the pattern and give ourselves much more resilience to persevere.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome & Fear of Failure
Imposter syndrome is so real and so widespread but it only truly holds power over us when we don’t recognise that everybody can suffer from this sensation.
So you’re about to step onto stage to give a talk and you suddenly feel as though you aren’t good enough to be there. They’ve made a mistake and any minute they’re going to see through your exterior and see the imposter hiding beneath.
If this is you, you’re not alone. We have probably all experienced some form of imposter syndrome at some point in our lives.
The good news is, just knowing that we all experience it can immediately release us from its grip. Because we aren’t an imposter, we’re just having a moment of lack of confidence.
Breathe deeply and carry on.
Being the Perfectionist
A certain amount of perfectionism can help us to do a great job instead of a mediocre one.
But when we become too much of a perfectionist it can have the opposite effect and stop us from taking action for fear of not getting it right.
Or we may beat ourselves up because of our mistakes or consider ourselves a failure when in truth we’ve done an amazing job.
The perfectionist doesn’t allow him or herself to be satisfied with his or her work because there’s always room for improvement.
And this demanding kind of rigidity can be completely counter-productive. Instead of creating better results, it can kill creativity, squash self-confidence and murder our ability to leap into action.
If you’re a perfectionist practise praising your efforts even when you don’t believe them to be perfect. Start to become aware of what it means to take action without attachment to the results.
As simple as it may sound, if you’re procrastinating you may be robbing yourself of your success without realising it.
Procrastination is a master at disguise and can sneak into your routine unnoticed.
For example, maybe you sit down to do some work, only to find yourself browsing through your emails, gazing at social media or reminiscing over your memories in photos.
If you think you’re allowing procrastination to steal your productivity, try setting yourself structured timetables in your day and keeping to them.
You’ll soon notice whether you’re keeping up with your intentions or allowing the tide of procrastination to carry you wherever it will.
Failure is a Stepping Stone to Success
This is my absolute favourite of them all. This is so liberating when we first truly understand the impact of what it means.
We all need to fail at things.
Failure is just balance.
Failure is experimenting to see what works.
Failure is starting a project which wasn’t meant to be.
Failure is a curious mind exploring the world.
Failure is positive and mind-blowing.
Thomas Edison spent years inventing the light bulb. If he had stopped because he had failed, we wouldn’t have benefited from his invention for all these years. Instead of seeing it as failure, he recognised the benefit of discovering what didn’t work.
I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.Thomas A. Edison
What have you done that you consider a failure?
Look at it with new eyes. Ask yourself these questions.
- In what way am I lucky that this didn’t go the way I had planned?
- What can I learn from this experience?
- What can I do differently next time?
Persistent Feelings of Failure
It takes time and persistence to change our inner beliefs. If you have persistent feelings of being a failure, take a part of each day to journal and to start to reframe your beliefs.
The point here is, you mustn’t stop and label yourself a failure in this exercise to combat the feelings of failure! So every evening journal 3 things which you’re grateful for and every day, recognise the things you’ve done successfully.
These may be small things like making a delicious lunch or they may be more challenging like completing a work project. It doesn’t matter. Focus on the wins from your day and write them in your journal in the evening.
To succeed in this exercise, you just have to commit to 30 days of writing in your journal. If you do miss a day, don’t think you’ve failed, think you’ve missed a day.
In other words, don’t create a story around your slip-ups. Let them be small. Let them be unimportant. Shift your focus onto all the great things you do, tiny and big alike.
And gradually you’ll find yourself becoming more positive and recognising more success in your life than ever before. And you’ll be free from thinking that you’re a failure.
Because no matter what you’re situation, you aren’t a failure. You are a success.