What it feels like when we fail by Cathy Pinnock

One of the hardest emotions to deal with when a person works so hard at something, feel they have given it their all, and then fail is self-disappointment and shame. Although they may feel discouraged, it is the realization of having to face the failure that is a difficult thing to overcome.

Living in a competitive world where success is valued like a badge of honor, our culture is raised to believe that success is measured by the grades we achieve, the degrees and certifications we acquire, and the wealth we accumulate. It is difficult not to compare yourselves to others as that is also what social media tells us they should do.

Dealing with self-disappointment and shame requires giving yourself permission to grieve the failure and then forgiveyourself for not achieving what was sought after. In some situations, there are circumstances that can contribute to the failure, but in others, it is not achieving the desired result like failing an important exam, being overlooked for a promotion, or having a significant relationship end. These are all events your family and friends know about and acknowledge the disappointment they may feel with us. Sometimes it is necessary to help others not feel bad for us. However, it is not sympathy you desire, but encouragement to just keep trying and not give up.

In relationships, failure can feel like a lack of ability to communicate effectively or the demise of a marriage/partnership. It will bring out feelings of inadequacy or not being good enough for the other person and it is a natural tendency to compare our relationships against others. However, each relationship has its own unique problems and although there may be some similarities, getting to the root of the problem may result in a feeling of failure when it should expose areas for improvement.

To be able to look at failure as something we haven’t achieved yet,  is a healthy way to approach it and presents an opportunity for growth and learning. It will give you hope that what you seek can be achieved, but perhaps in a different manner than what you had initially thought and a take a little longer than was expected. The secret to overcoming the failing is to never give up and keep trying. Perseverance always pays off.



Cathy is a Registered Marriage and Family Therapist at Simply Brave. She is motivated to help people find the answers they are looking for to enjoy happiness, find hope and regain personal strength. ⁠