Dealing with failure and emotions that arise when we did not get the results in life that we wanted is a daily task. When faced with a new project, whether it is financial, academic or personal, the same question always arises: What if I fail? There is no doubt that failure scares us more or is just as important to us as success. Have you ever tried to find a good strategy to get back on top when you fall? For this is often the key to success…
Being able to overcome failure, problems, frustration or even stress can mean the difference between being successful and falling into a deep hole that is hard to get out of. To do this, we must not only work to achieve our goals, but also know how to deal with failure.
What do we mean by success?
Success depends on every situation and every person. It is mostly associated with money and work. A good salary from a good job. But success can also be seen in many other areas of our lives. Social recognition, the quality of our social relationships, finding a romantic partner who completes us…
We do not always get what we want. Knowing how to handle these situations helps us cope with them better and even use them to become stronger.
What do we mean by dealing with failure?
Dealing is a series of thoughts of cognitive processes that orient our behavior toward solving the problem. We are constantly changing the way we move forward, depending on the resources we have or the demands our environment generates (or ourselves).
What are handling mechanisms? Maybe you think they are specific and planned processes. Any kind of response we have to an event (good or bad) will activate a coping mechanism. For example, crying after breaking up with someone is a kind of coping mechanism and a way of dealing with failure. Going to a party with your friends, going to the gym to “pull the plug” or watching a marathon of our favorite movies. These are all different but equally valid ways of controlling our bad feelings.
General management strategies
Let’s look at two types of coping strategies:
- Problem Solving Strategies – These focus on changing the problem. The problem caused the bad feelings, so by changing these, we also change the situation.
- Emotional regulation strategies – Adapting our emotional response to the problem. This is a self-control mechanism. We adapt the solution to the problem.
Not all strategies resolve a conflict in a positive way. We can react at a particular time in a particular way, but the subsequent emotional consequences cannot help deal with failure. On the contrary, they can even make the situation worse. For example, if we respond by shouting (emotional regulation) at someone who has hurt us, the situation will continue. We even maintain what hurts us and deepen the conflict that already existed.
How to handle errors
Lazarus and Folkman are leading divr when it comes to looking at how we can deal with failure and its consequences. They assessed and classified the thoughts and actions that help us deal with the problems and stressors we face throughout life.
In total, there are eight strategies that include both problem solving and emotional regulation. Each strategy consists of a series of behavioral or thought processes. These are forms that include various methods that people have to solve problems. Lazarus and Folkman collected this data through the famous “Ways to Handle” ( Ways of Coping ) study.
Strategies for dealing with failure
- Confrontation – a person comes back to reality in an attempt to change it. They are trying to fix the error to try again. Sometimes this strategy involves big risks, as it means that a person has to invest more resources, to get a new opportunity or to ensure success a second time.
- Distancing – the opposite of the confrontation. In this case, a person is trying to abstain from what happened. Especially when it comes to responsibility – they try to minimize their role in what happened.
- Self-control – a person focuses on regulating their emotions. This does not mean that they do nothing, rather that they perform mental actions.
- Social support – this strategy is based on finding support in our environment. Sometimes we can externalize our emotions to better focus on the problem. Talking to other people who are listening and giving advice can help us see things from a different perspective.
- Acceptance of responsibility – recognizing the role that each person has played in the development of what happened. Accepting the fact that we may have some responsibility (center of control) focuses the problem solving on ourselves.
- Escape or avoidance – we fantasize about possible solutions we could perform, but we do not set anyone in motion. Other strategies that fall into this group may be more active, but they also fall into the avoidance category: eating, drinking, smoking, and so on.
- Planning – thinking and developing possible strategies to solve the problem as a method of confrontation. Planning can also include making a mind map in an attempt to minimize losses associated with the failure.
- Positive reassessment – notes positive aspects that may come from the error. In other words, “see things on the bright side”.
Failure is a possibility
Life is a constant lesson. It is very rare that things go the way we want them to and therefore we may feel frustrated, or feel that we have failed. This is normal. There is nothing unnatural about it. Our ability to grow and get good results on our investment is shown when we start using our emotional resources to manage mistakes. This will teach us the lessons of life, and will make us wiser.