I’m sure you’ve already read the title, pretty brutal right? Have you ever said that to yourself? I definitely have. The slightest thing can go wrong and without even being aware our mind has spiralled into thinking that everything is falling apart and things will never work out for us. We feel like we’ve let ourselves down, our family down, and that truly have failed.
Imagine someone you know and love has made a simple mistake that may mildly set back their progress or impacted their performance - how would you react to them? Would you console, help and reassure them by saying it is simply a small setback and that everything is going to be ok? Or, would you tell them that they’re a failure and that they will never achieve their goals. I’m assuming it would be the latter, otherwise you really wouldn’t be a very good friend. So WHY THE FUCK is it ok to call yourself a failure. The short answer to that is, it’s not.
This is known as a critical inner voice. If we are constantly criticised and put down by other people then our self-perception will become very negative - the same will happen with how we speak to ourselves. If we constantly put ourselves down and criticise everything we do then gradually our self-worth will begin to diminish.
We are growing up in a world that has become impeccably fast-paced and competitive. It is easy for us to start comparing ourselves to others and feeling like we really haven’t achieved anything. It’s easy for us to make comparisons to our past selves and think “I’m not progressing as fast as I was then”. This spiral is more common than you realise, even the people you seem to have their shit together probably experience this spiral from time to time.
During my course of therapy, I was taught some and helpful things. Firstly, this spiral means ghat we have a lack of gratitude. If at that moment rather than worrying about what we don’t have, or the lack of progression towards our goals, we’re just thankful for where we are, our attention will be shifted. Instead, we become filled with positive energy, gratitude and optimism as we are reminded that we have made progress, we just need to recognise that.
Here’s an example:
The other day I was feeling down about my career. Whilst it may appear that I am successful, at this moment in time I am not financially stable. I still live at home and am living off of my redundancy payment from losing my job, and my university maintenance loan. My job is currently not enough to make a living. This made me feel like, well, I was a failure. I felt like I was letting myself down. Now, would you say that being 21 and being on track for achieving things whilst not yet being financially stable, would make someone a failure? Absolutely not. Someone then reminded of how far I’d come and the progress I had made. They made me look back to two years ago, and where I am now. Sure I’m not exactly where I’d like to be. But I’ve made great progress. That sounds more like a success to me.
The second thing I was taught was the entire concept of self-esteem. We attach our performance to our self-worth, and if our performance is at all lessened, so is our value - thats actually quite a scary thought. Now, imagine that there is a line in front of you, the left is the start (when you were born) and the end is well, your end, to put it bluntly. Now, imagine you’re going to live an average life expectancy and with that in mind, place yourself somewhere along that line based on your age. So, for me being 21, I’d only be about 1/4 along the line. Now ask yourself this, how can I be a failure when 3/4 of my life is completely unknown? If you sit a test, how can you have failed when you’re only 3/4 of the way through, there’s still another 75% of marks up for grabs.
SO, you’re not a failure. Periodt. So stop telling yourself that you are. You’ve got a whole life ahead of you to achieve your goals, and guess what boo, success takes time. Let’s practice some gratitude for how far we’ve come instead of feeling down about not being where we’re headed.