Failure and Success

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:MJ Succeed

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.


Apparently, there is some debate about whether or not this poem was actually the work of Ralph Waldo Emerson, but, I like it anyway

37 thoughts on “Failure and Success

  1. I like number 3 🙂 You’re always hearing about famous musicians and writers that get turned down and laughed at over and over until one day someone gives them a chance and they get the record deal/book deal/nobel peace nomination they’ve always wanted.


    • Hahaha! I am not ever expecting to get a record/book deal/ nobel peace nomination I’ve always wanted, but, I do get inspired by the intestinal fortitude many successful people have displayed when faced with failure or rejection. 🙂


  2. Nice post for those of us who get too hard on ourselves. Although I used to like inspiration quotes, I just can’t do them anymore. Anyways, I love the rest of it, especially the pun thing. I am always going around pointing them out until people can’t groan anymore. The better the pun, the bigger the groan, the happier it makes me.


  3. Oh how well I know those loser-y feelings. They are worse than actually being rejected or real failure. It’s all the thoughts up in my head that are the problem
    I liked your post so much 🙂


    • I know what you mean! The thoughts about the things that happen are so much worse than what actually happens. I’m working on changing those thoughts, but they creep in all to easily!


  4. Number three is critical. You cannot enjoy the heights that success has to offer unless you have been down there, unless you know what utter failure feels like. This I can tell you for sure.



    • Thank you for that input, Timkeen40 🙂 That does help me feel hopeful that the times I feel like a failure are not only temporary, but maybe even worth it 🙂 …Hope that made sense!


  5. This is fantastic. This is the first time I have read your blog, and I am totally impressed. First anyone with your insight is definitely a winner. Great ideas to revisit the victories. Thanks for sharing such great ideas. Look forward to reading more when I have time.


  6. As Courtney said, I think you are already on the right track because you appear to have great insight into yourself and what you want to change and some people never get that far. I’m the same – it’s an ongoing project for me to try not to always downgrade myself and my abilities. Also, btw, I laughed at the phrase, “in the event that your immediate situation does not permit you to ingest an entire biography of Abraham Lincoln.” Unless you were stranded on Antarctica until next Summer, I’d guess that most people’s immediate situation would not allow time for this….(but you could now cheat and see the movie instead!)


    • Thank you, Blathering! You know….THEY SAY that social support helps. I really appreciate what you said…it makes me want to keep forging ahead. I’m so glad you laughed, too! 😉


  7. Corollary: Realize the probability at succeding at everything is likely near zero as well. Like my attempt to use proper spelling. ^


    • Unfortunately, I tend to focus on that realization a little too much and start to feel extremely down about it. I am attempting to shift my thought process to being a little more hopeful, or I wouldn’t ever try anything at all! What would be the point of trying something if you focus on the fact that it would not be possible to succeed?


  8. You know what I find very funny (yes, haha) and very cool? You often feel like a failure/rejection/ self-esteemy (or lack therof) but you’re a powerful motivational speaker! Oh the irony… 🙂 And the fact that you’re so in tune with your feelings and ideas is exactly why. My Dad, who was my version of your brother, (and who raised me with a Bible in one hand and a joint in the other) once told me, that “with wisdom comes sorrow”. I never forgot that. The more we become aware of our own shortcomings, (and stop obsessing over the shortcomings of others), we’re filled with a sense of TRUTH. This can makes us sad. But the same salt that burns is the same salt that heals (audible groan)…

    🙂 <<<

    I say all of that to say, that I love your brutal honesty, and it's people like you that truly change the world. I don't have much to say or do with people who are full of themselves. Your self-deprecating sense of self is not only palpable, it's downright necessary. Love that about you. 🙂

    And thanks for this post! I have tears in my eyes, a smile on my face, and I swear it's not hormonal.


  9. Inspirational quotes are a dime a dozen. This is my favorite: The best thing about failure is that it makes nobody jealous.” – Ashleigh Brilliant

    That’ll be 5/6ths of a cent, please.


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