Self esteem, or dealing with the lack of it, is something I’ve been working on for quite some time. I am learning that I don’t have to succumb to every unfavorable thought I have about myself, and that I can take control of the situation, but the loser-y feelings still tend to flare up if I experience any kind of rejection or failure. So, here is my emergency plan to help my future self (and anyone else who may need it) endure feelings of failure.
1. Cry if you need to
A very wise doctor (my brother) once said, “crying is like a fart; if it wells up inside you, you have to let it out or it will poison your insides.” I might also add that there are certain times and places that are more appropriate than others to release the wellings-up of your insides…of any kind…just sayin’.
2. Run while listening to the music of your choice
Running (or walking) while listening to music seems to be a magical cure for emotional turmoil. Musical choice, however, is key. Listening to sappy love songs if you are feeling the angst of a failed relationship can be problematic, but theme songs from old movies like “Rocky” or “Chariots of Fire” (or anything that’s kind of bad a*s) works quite nicely.
3. Read about other people who have experienced failure and rejection
Many, in fact, most extremely successful people have experienced rejection and failure. Abraham Lincoln and Michael Jordon are two of my favorite examples. Reading about them helps put things in perspective.
4. Find inspirational quotes
This kind of goes along with reading about other people who have experienced rejection, and persevered, but it’s more like the fast food version; an inspirational snack in the event that your immediate situation does not permit you to ingest an entire biography of Abraham Lincoln. Here is one that I love:
4. Realize the probability of failing at everything you try (I tend to go there) is not likely
I am by no means a mathematician, but I do know that if I spend all day flipping a coin, the more times I flip it, the more likely it is that the outcome will will approach 50% of the time heads, and 50% or the time, tails. I’m sure there are a bunch of little mathematical kinks I need to work out, but I’m going to go ahead and apply the same idea to failure and success — try: fail, try: fail, try: fail, try: succeed, try: fail, try: succeed, try: succeed. The more times you try, the more likely it is that you will succeed.
5. Make a list of previous successes
When I get down or feel rejected, one thought of rejection tends to remind me of another time I felt rejected which ignites the next thought of rejection, and before I know it, I am feeling like a worthless human being, destined for a life of dumpster diving. My first solid recollection of this thought experience occurred when I was in the 8th grade . At that time, I tried out for every extra-curricular sporting activity offered at school…and didn’t make one of’em. In fact, I was the only kid who got cut from the “B” team in volley ball. I was so distraught by this, that I failed (no pun was intended here, but I have to admit that I do like puns, so I’m kind of excited that I accidentally did that) to recognize winning the state art fair as a success. The intense focus I placed on my failures, and things I was not good at, seeped onto the things I was good at, and I gave up on those, too. Not once during that time, did I realize that its okay to fail at some things. Not EVERY single thing I do has to be perfect ALL the time. I am starting to realize that success does not have to be defined by winning or losing, but rather by accomplishing something you set out to do; finishing something you started…even if it’s just writing a post on a blog.