Google tells me failure is ‘a lack of success’ and Disney tells me “success is going from one failure to the next with no loss of enthusiasm.” When thinking of how to give tips on how to deal with failure whilst tying it to faith, I came to realise that it’s quite subjective, so I turned to people and they told me ‘there is no such thing as failure, there are only lessons learnt.’ I concluded it’s a personal thing, encountered when unable to meet certain expectations, be they academic, spiritual or personal.
I decided that regardless of the differences between our definitions of failure, the ways to cope with it and advice one should give (that I’d personally want to hear) are still the same so I’ve come up with a list of ways, which I believe can help us all (of course I came up with a list, am I even Rimz if I don’t?)
I do understand that probably all of this is very easy to say and a lot harder to do but I need you all to know that these are things that take time. and that’s okay. There’s no rush. I am writing all this based on my own experiences, this is what I’ve learnt and what I think may help others.
So, first things first:
Failure hurts. It’s not a nice thing to go through. Sometimes it hurts a lot, sometimes a little, and that’s okay. It’s better not to try and push your feelings away by distracting yourself or by playing the blame game, it’s better not to try act like everything’s okay when it’s not. Try your best to accept how you’re feeling and come to terms with what’s happened. If you sit there rejecting how you feel, then those feelings will keep popping up catching you off guard and they will keep on hurting you. So, tip number one – try your best to come to terms with it and accept whatever’s happened. You can’t go back in time and undo what’s already been done but you can learn your lesson, move forward and take precautionary measures to not encounter the same failure again.
Yes, you read that right. A lot of the time things happen for the best whether we see them to be best for us or not, sometimes things look like they’re going to ruin our lives but really, they’re just paving the way for better. Being grateful doesn’t mean you’re proud of your failure or that you’re happy you failed. It means accepting you hit a roadblock and that there must have been some good behind it, it means you realise that sometimes we need to go through tough experiences to learn lessons that change us for the better, that at times, like plants, we need to be buried under soil and stand in the rain in order to blossom and grow. Being grateful means understanding you had some lessons to learn and learning them.
In a spiritual context, know that God had written for you what happened and that there must be wisdom behind it that you don’t know yet. Everything happens for a reason. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, ‘Seek help from Allah and do not lose heart. If anything (in the form of trouble) comes to you, do not say: ‘If I had only acted in such-and-such a way, it would have been such-and-such’, but instead say: ‘Allah has decreed, and what He willed, He has done,’ for verily, ‘if’ opens the way for the work of Shaytan.’ (Muslim). Being grateful means thanking Allah for always doing what is best for you whether you understand His wisdom behind it or not. Always thank him for it and know Allah says, ‘If you are grateful, I will surely increase you [in favor]. So, alhamdulillah for everything.
Remind yourself: you’re not a failure
When you fail once, it is so easy to start thinking that you will always keep failing; it’s so easy to start thinking that you as a person are a failure. But that is not true. Just because you failed today or yesterday doesn’t mean that you’ll fail the next time. This one failure doesn’t define you or your capabilities and it’s not going to define the rest of your life if you keep moving forward and keep trying, if you take action and you keep learning. You are a brilliant being with an extraordinary mind that’s capable of so much, one failure does not define who you are, you have passed so many times before and you will again, be that in exams or the trials that come with life. There are always more opportunities to do better, don’t let one failure come between you and your goals. You are not a failure.
Be constructive and learn from this situation.
Take it as a learning opportunity and something you can use to improve yourself rather than only a big blow and setback. Use it to motivate yourself to do better next time and find the lessons you can learn from this. Figure out your ‘even better ifs’- try finding what you can change so you don’t make the same mistakes again. There is something to learn from every situation we find ourselves in, the good and the bad. Look for the lessons, learn them and reflect on how you’ve spent your time and energy, find where to improve and what went well, then try keep up with what you did well and make changes where needed. You are a masterpiece in the making, learn from the lesson’s life gives you and do what you need to improve.
One thing I must stress though. All of this takes time. There’s no rush. The important thing is to start thinking about the situation from this perspective and to be constructive about things instead of getting stuck in denial or negativity and apathy. All I’m doing is giving tips based on my own experiences with failure, sharing with you all what has worked for me over time in hopes of it being able to help someone else
Failure is normal. Everyone fails.
Usually we just hear about people’s successes and what went right for them but what we don’t see is the blood, sweat and tears it took for them to get there. Everyone. Every single person. Fails. Things don’t always work out how we want them to, and it’s just one of the ways in which life decides to teach us valuable lessons. There will always be ups and downs in life, in everybody’s lives. Don’t get sucked into a cycle of comparing your life to others, everyone goes through their own failures in life. Reality is that behind every persons success story lies a mountain of failures and years of experience. Your latest failure is just taking you another step closer to success.
Let it out into the light- don’t bottle it up
Take advice from Elsa, (I’m clearly a Disney girl) and try to let it go. Do not keep it all bottled up inside. Talk to someone close to you, talk to a friend, a family member, your partner, anyone- but don’t keep it all to yourself. Venting about it, having the other person just listen to you can help you organise your thoughts and think things through clearly; it can help you accept what happened instead of pushing it away. It’ll show you how things are from another perspective and through someone else’s eyes. This person can help you to ground yourself in reality again, to encourage and perhaps even to find a way forward. Talk and communicate how this failure has made you feel, how you think it will impact you and what steps you need to take to overcome this hurdle and what you can learn. Talking things out helps, don’t keep it all in.
Don’t stop- keep going.
Keep it moving. Try adopting a growth mindset and don’t get stuck dwelling over what’s happened. Don’t allow your life to pause because of this, find the steps you need to take to get past this roadblock, figure out how to take it as a lesson and work on where you might have gone wrong. Make failure your stepping-stone towards success and not a stopping-stone. Applaud yourself for trying and come to understand that your only competition should be yourself and becoming a better person than who you were yesterday
You can’t have light without darkness
The same way we wouldn’t be able to know what light is without knowing what darkness is, the same way we wouldn’t know good without bad, is the same thing when it comes to failure and success. If all we came across in life was happiness and success, we wouldn’t know to acknowledge that they’re good things and wouldn’t find joy in them. Sometimes we go through failure and see and experience things like pain and sorrow so that we can appreciate the positivity around us that little bit more.
Some more faith related tips I’d give are-
Learn humility and tawakkul
“And whoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him.” (Quran 65:3)
Whether your failure was academic, personal, or spiritual, it hurts when you come up short. And in that can be a lesson in humility. A lot of the time when people are doing well and are successful on a regular, we can slip into arrogance. Sometimes our failures come as a way of humbling us and stopping us from being egotistical.
Tawakkul is part and parcel of failure. Failure reminds you that you while may have all these extravagant plans and wishes, Allah has a destiny written for you. And Allah is al-Latif, the one who knows all secret and subtle things and jobs, and the one who surrounds everything with His knowledge. We have to learn to put our trust in the One who created us and who will only do what is best for us.
We can plan all we want but Allah’s plan is always better, He is the Best of Planners and He is the All Wise. You never know- this one little failure may have saved you from a greater one. This one failure may pave the way for many successes and blessings in your life. This one failure may even mean you get to live to see another day. There is always a hikmah (wisdom) in everything Allah has planned for us and we need to learn to tie our camel and do our part to succeed then leave it to Allah for Him to do whatever is better for us in the long run.
It’s important to learn to change your perspective to reflect on what’s good and learn from what’s negative, failure is said to be one of life’s greatest teachers, there is always something to learn. So, try not to be overwhelmed when you sit face to face with failure, without it we wouldn’t learn any better, we would stay stagnant and not grow as much as people. During times where you feel like you keep on failing, it’s so important to take a break and look for what went right and what good in this failure could lead to. There have been so many times where I’ve felt like I can’t go on because of one simple failure but don’t ever let that stop you from growing into a better person and improving yourself. Look for the opportunities around you and new ways of turning this failure into a success. A lot of how we experience life is up to our perspective and mindset and it is so important to look for the positives and keep going but also to acknowledge and accept the what went wrong and find where to improve.
I pray this post has benefitted at least one of you and that we can all use our failures to learn valuable lessons and grow into being better humans ❤