Failure Should Be Our Teacher NOT Our Undertaker

This week marked the end of a one-year creative writing programme that I had signed up for in the hope that I might become a writer. I am not sure of that but this programme pushed me to the edge of my physical and mental capabilities that I had either forgotten or never knew they existed. A major part of the programme involved submitting a thesis with a specified word count. What no one told me then were the number of revisions I would need to do before submitting the final version. As I look back, I think I overcame sloth, learnt to accept failure and look beyond it. I have some lessons that failure taught me. I want to remember them and thought might as well share with you.

  • Start with watching your breath because most of us hold our breath without realizing it, so breathe easy.
  • Be kind to yourself. Take one disaster at a time.
  • DO NOT justify or defend your failure. It drains you, takes you away from your goal and achieves nothing. It might offer temporary relief or worse make you smug. So, avoid it by all means.
  • Introspect in all honesty. We may present any face to the world but so long as we are true to ourselves, all is not lost. Speak to your teachers or confidantes; they often know your strengths and weaknesses more than you.
  • Steer clear of social media. Nowadays that’s where everyone is and the peer pressure is felt the most on such sites.
  • Everyone makes mistakes, fools insist on repeating them. Failure essentially is a stepping stone not a diving board to depression. Instead rise like a phoenix (remember Fawkes in the Harry Potter series, Dumbledore’s Phoenix who rises from his ashes)
  • Negative thoughts creep in unannounced. Try beating them down with positivity. “All Izz Well”, often does the trick!
  • Look for ways to dissipate the negative energy build up. Distractions help especially if the activity involves hands. Try cooking, baking, sports… anything…. something. (Psst…I washed utensils and it was therapeutic)
  • Sleep well. A rested mind doesn’t play games with you.
  • Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on. Better out than in and that’s not a sign of weakness. It could be parents, friends. Do not close your doors on them
  • Clichéd as it may sound, remember that failure is temporary. It’s the quitting that makes it permanent.

As Denis Waitley said- Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.

Dr. Shivani Salil

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