Impact of technology on mental health

Emma Mudge, Senior Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner

Tips to overcome feelings of failure

Mental Health

11 July 2023

Feelings of failure can affect us all. If you find yourself grappling with these emotions – believing you could have achieved more in life, feeling socially disconnected, or experiencing self-doubt during interviews – know that you are not alone.

Feeling different degrees of failure can happen at any age, and for many reasons. Young children may experience this if they find it hard to make friends, and throughout education success is largely measured by exam results. Through our adult lives failure at work and feeling that friends and family are more successful than we are can also sap our confidence and happiness.

Counting the emotional cost

Getting to grips with feelings of failure means recognising you have them and how much they are affecting you. Being passed over for promotion at work, not being picked to play on the team or being left out of social occasions are some of the potential triggers. Knowing your triggers is important to helping you overcome the problem. 

Experiencing feelings of failure is often linked to other health issues, including depression and stress. It’s not surprising when you look at some of the symptoms common in these conditions, for example having low self-esteem, feeling hopeless, or lonely, and having continuous low mood or sadness.  

Physical symptoms can come alongside these emotional symptoms. You may have aches and pains that seem to come from nowhere and trouble sleeping. Other symptoms to watch for are struggling socially, both at home and with friends. Stress and anxiety about failing can also affect your performance at work. 

It’s ok to fail 

Failing is okay because it helps us learn and grow. It teaches us valuable lessons and makes us stronger. When we fail, we have a chance to reflect, improve, and try again. Failure is a normal part of life, so we shouldn't be afraid of it. Instead, we should embrace it as an opportunity for personal development and reaching our goals.

How to help yourself

The good news is that you can take steps to address these feelings of failure before they become overwhelming. It may need practice, but the following tips can help foster a more positive mindset:

  1. Keep control of your inner voice: Challenge negative self-talk and replace it with positive affirmations. Recognise when your thoughts are unhelpful and consciously stop them.
  2. Congratulate yourself: Embrace the power of positive psychology. Learn from perceived failures and consider them as valuable experiences that contribute to personal growth.
  3. Avoid labelling yourself as a failure: Refrain from adopting self-fulfilling prophecies. Instead, focus on possibilities and maintain an open mind.
  4. Avoid saying "I knew that would happen”: This only perpetuates a mindset focused on failure.
  5. Open up about your feelings: Seek support from someone you trust and share your feelings of failure. Don’t bottle up negative feelings as this is likely to make things worse. The affection and support you receive can uplift your spirits and improve your self-perception.

What next?

If feelings of failure have consumed your thoughts to the point where positive aspects of your life seem overshadowed, it may be beneficial to get additional help. Sometimes, stress-associated thoughts of failure need professional assistance to alleviate.

Consider speaking with your GP to explore potential avenues for support. They may suggest talking therapy, such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which can effectively address anxiety, depression, and stress-related issues.

Ask our health professionals

You’re not alone. We’re here to help you take care of your health. 

Our email service allows allows you to ask our team of experienced health professionals, including nurses, midwives, counsellors, pharmacists and dieticians, your health related question. 

You don’t have to be a member, and you can ask for yourself or anyone in your family. We’ll get back to you via email, usually within 24 hours, with clear information and support.