Why Failure May Be The Best Thing That Has Ever Happened To You

Go ahead and embrace the fall to rock bottom.

All through life you’re taught to strive for excellence and perfection. You direct every effort toward getting into the best schools, receiving the best grades, landing the ideal job, meeting the perfect mate, living in a dream home, and having angelic children.

Then, life gets in the way. Stuff happens. You stumble. You fall.

The Inevitable

You will fail in your life, likely many times.

You might flunk a course, lose your job, get divorced, battle illness, encounter financial hardship, or face a barrage of challenging parenting issues – or face some other adversity.

At some point, it might seem like you can’t go any lower. You’ve hit rock bottom.

While you don’t have to reach the lowest low to start making meaningful adjustments in your life, being there at rock bottom makes you more acutely aware of what you need to do. It’s a wake-up call. Time to hit the reset button. Time to make some significant changes.         

What's Healthy; What's Not

Of course, if you’re in a severe crisis, suffering from prolonged depression, or you’re suicidal, get professional medical help immediately.

Otherwise, know that it’s normal to have the blues when you’ve suffered a blow. You need time and space in the doldrums to reconnect with yourself and your needs, and to chart your course. What you need to know is that it will take some heavy lifting on your part to recover.

The hardest part is that nobody really prepares to fail. It’s something you’re taught to fear, so you shudder away from it. But if you embrace failure, you can enjoy its many profound and unexpected gifts.

Here are some facts you need to know about falling down, so you can pick yourself up and rise like the phoenix from the ashes:

1.       Perfection doesn’t exist.

You are not alone in failing. Screwing up is part of the human condition. Everyone has character flaws and lessons they need to learn. But when you accept that no one is perfect – including you, you’ll be in a greater place of acceptance.

Failing teaches you to be humble, and that life isn’t black and white. You’re just as worthy as the next person in having a chance to prove yourself again.

2.       Growth happens in the trenches.

People learn by doing; some more than others. Life is a journey, and therefore there is no shame in making mistakes. In fact, there is an expectation of making mistakes.

Insights come to you in your darkest hours and lowest lows. You'll get a new perspective and realize (finally!) what you’ve failed to notice before and just how off-course you were. You’ve earned your scars, so proudly wear them!

3.       Everything happens for a reason.

Richard Bach said it best with “There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.”

One of my clients lost her job suddenly after 25 years with the same company. Even though she hated her work, it was devastating to her, and she didn’t know where to begin. She said she was depressed. But what she didn’t realize was that she was going through a normal and expected process of grief. She needed to give herself a period of introspection and regrouping.

With some coaching, my client reconnected with herself, discovered her perfect career, and set out on a much happier path. Losing her job was the higher powers kicking her in the butt, so that she could finally get out of a rut.

Though the reason for your hardship might not be apparent, in time you will uncover it. Have faith that the universe has your back.

4.       What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Failing is the process of building a muscle. When you overexert part of your body, what do you do? You rest it, give yourself a little tender loving care, and you start with smaller exercises to rebuild your strength.

The same process is true of falling down or overcoming adversity. You can build your resilience and get back in the saddle. Accept that there will be a little pain in the recovery, but subsequent difficulties will be much easier to face. So, don’t back down. Fight a little longer.

5.       Something better is around the corner.

No one stays down forever. And there are plenty of stories about celebrities -- like J.K Rowling and Oprah -- who suffered terrible blows and triumphed over their circumstances to get where they are today. There have been better opportunities on the horizon meant just for them!

Dig deep into your soul while you’re in the midst of failure. Be clear about what you want and don’t want in your life.

Great things happen to people who summon their courage and boldly go after their dreams. Look for that open door to something better.

6.       Success is sweeter on the way up.

When you get back on your feet after a fall, you have a greater appreciation for the little things. Suddenly, you are most grateful for sunrises and sunsets, flowers blooming, children laughing.

Put down your baggage, enjoy a fresh start, and be free to experience all the joys in life.

You may also find that this once-thought devastating situation has favourably changed your character. You know what it’s like to feel pain, desperation, shame, and guilt, and you’ll be there for someone else when they stumble, teaching them the wisdom that comes out of failure and how to accept it gracefully.

Fact: embracing the fall on the way down is hard. But when you give yourself compassion and welcome the experience of failing, you’ll be able to take back your life -- even make it better than it ever was. In time, and you’ll realize that hitting rock bottom was the best thing that ever happened to you. It showed you exactly who you are capable of becoming.