Have you been feeling like a failure lately? Well, there are several things you must remember.
I must admit, sometimes I do feel this way. I think back on the past decisions I’ve made in the past and realize some of them were probably far from my best. The thing is, those things are done, those times are over, and there’s nothing I can do about it now. It doesn’t mean I still don’t feel like a failure every now and then. I guess feeling like this happens to everyone eventually.
‘Why Am I Feeling Like a Failure?’ 6 Possible Causes
You don’t just get up one morning and suddenly realize that your life is a failure. There are some triggers, situations and thought patterns that can make you feel this way, especially if it happens on a regular basis. Here are the most common ones:
1. You compare yourself to others
When you have the self-sabotaging habit of comparing yourself with others, the comparison usually goes only in one direction. It presents you in a negative light. Someone else always turns out to be more successful, competent and talented than you are. Seeing how others succeed and move on with their lives makes it easy to feel like you stay behind and your life is a failure.
When you begin to compare your life with someone else’s, it’s way too easy to fall into the trap of feeling inadequate. We always see only the facade of other people’s lives, and these kinds of comparisons only create resentment.
2. You are going through a midlife crisis
A midlife crisis strikes when we reach a certain age and find ourselves unfulfilled and unaccomplished in a specific area of life or in general. Most people experience it in their 30s or 40s. A midlife crisis makes you wonder whether you might be walking the wrong path in life. It makes you realize that you could have achieved greater things or could have chosen a different route.
You suddenly start to ask yourself questions like:
- Am I living a fake life?
- Do I act according to someone else’s expectations?
- Did I give up on my dreams?
- Am I a failure?
- Is my life a failure?
3. You are too self-critical
When you face hardships in your professional or personal life, it’s difficult to keep your spirits high. It is completely understandable to feel like a failure when everything is falling apart. But are you being too hard on yourself? Are you punishing yourself for minor mistakes and non-existent faults?
We all blame ourselves for our actions and choices from time to time. But it’s unhealthy to hold onto guilt. You need to silence your inner critic if you find yourself constantly focusing on your failures and negative traits.
4. You are an overthinker
When you are an overthinker, you are prone to ruminating and dwelling on negative thoughts. You may also find yourself in the trap of overthinking your past failures and mistakes. When you ruminate about the things that went wrong in the past, it’s easy to start feeling like a failure.
This is when you start imagining possible scenarios of how the things could have gone if only [insert your option here]… You think about what you could have done differently and what mistakes you could have avoided.
This way of thinking has the power to make you feel bad about yourself and diminish the progress you have made in life. Blaming yourself (even if there is a reason to) doesn’t help you grow. Accepting your mistakes and learning from them does.
5. You have self-esteem issues
When you suffer from low self-esteem or inferiority complex, you tend to perceive yourself in a bad light. You diminish your achievements and positive qualities and focus on the negative. No matter what you accomplish, it feels not enough.
Self-esteem issues can have many roots, including childhood trauma or abuse. They also have a close connection with depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders. Since toxic thought patterns and mental health issues plant distorted ideas about yourself in your mind, you could end up feeling like a failure.
6. You have imposter syndrome
Have you ever heard about imposter syndrome? It is a mental pattern that makes you downplay your achievements and doubt yourself. It is said to be common among successful and highly intelligent people who are prone to self-doubt.
Do you doubt your achievements and feel like your success is a matter of luck or any other external circumstances? Are you feeling like a fake and are afraid that one day you will be exposed? You could be suffering from imposter syndrome.
So, what can you do about feeling like a failure?
If you feel like you’ve failed in life, it’s okay. Life was never meant to be sunshine and flowers all the time, right? Well, the good part is, there are things you can think on that will alleviate a bit of that negativity from time to time. Just utilizing some positive thoughts will help you regain a bit of your self-worth. Before you know it, you will be feeling like a success again.
Just remember these things:
1. The past is gone
The first thing I want to make sure you understand is that you cannot change anything about the past. What you’ve done or what has been done to you cannot be taken away, no matter how hard you wish, pray or ask.
Every decision you’ve made in life is gone into the archives of your life and cannot be removed unless you forget. So, in order to stop feeling like a failure, maybe forgetting a few things would help.
2. Failures are lessons
Failing at things doesn’t only prove that you aren’t perfect, they also teach you things. If you’ve been in unhealthy relationships, you may learn what sort of person you should avoid. You might learn a few things about yourself as well, like things you shouldn’t have done in the relationship. If you committed a crime, fines or jail time will teach you lessons that what you did was wrong.
Instead of feeling like you’re not worth anything, you should be proud you learned what not to do the next time.
3. You’re not alone
Just because you’re feeling like a failure doesn’t mean others aren’t feeling the same. When you’re in your darkest moment, remember that someone somewhere is suffering too. They could have an even worse situation than yours.
When you realize these negative feelings are common, then they don’t seem to be so powerful anymore. It’s best to tell yourself that life is what it is, and all you can do is go from here and do better.
4. Nothing is flawless
Did you know that even the most successful people in the world have had moments of failure? I bet some of them even wanted to give up, I’m even sure of it. So when you compare yourself with more powerful and accomplished people than you are, remember this fact. No one’s life is perfect and many needed to go through hell to reach success.
I’ve heard stories of homeless people with beautiful singing voices being discovered and becoming successful in a singing career. Now, that’s talking about going from rags to riches. Just like your life now, they suffered. But just as they persevered, you will too. After all, nothing is perfect in life, and feeling everything you do is a failure sometimes happens before a great change.
5. You can change
Before you throw a pity party, think about this: You are not helpless. You can change anything you need to, within reason, if you don’t like the place you’re in or the person you’re with. You’re not a tree, so you can move, but like a tree, which loses its leaves, you can let go of things.
So, unless you have no resources at all, you can improve your life if you feel like you’ve failed in the past and still feel that way. If you need help, ask; if you need support, there are always outlets to help you. Always remember this.
6. Share the blame
If you’re feeling bad due to a failure that happened in the past, you probably aren’t the only one to blame in the situation. Most of the time, there are, at least, two or more people involved. So, remember, only take responsibility for your part, and let the rest go. After making amends with what you’ve done, then let that go too!
7. This won’t be the last
Not to sound depressing or anything, but this probably won’t be the last time you fail at something. There will be many times in the future that times don’t go exactly as planned. So if you’re feeling like a failure, you better leave some room for later…meaning, just let it go if you can.
8. Think long and hard
If you’re feeling like you’ve failed yourself, then you will soon be making a move to change things. At least, I hope you do. The last thing you should do is get stuck in your failure. But before you make this move, think about your options long and hard.
Never make a rash decision, because truth to be told, that may be one of the reasons for past failures. Weigh your goods and bads, your options and opportunities. Also, think of others you care about before making decisions. Now that you’ve failed before, you should have learned this.
9. It might not be as bad as you think
We have talked about self-esteem issues and overthinking your failures before, so it could be that your idea of your progress in life may simply be wrong. You might be feeling like a failure, but it doesn’t mean that you are.
Do you have too high expectations in life? Are you being too hard on yourself? Don’t diminish all the progress you have made because of one mistake. And you know what? This mistake may not be as severe as you think.
In general, we tend to overestimate the weight of our actions and decisions. For example, the spotlight effect makes you believe that everyone notices the slightest fault in your behavior. In reality, people are too self-absorbed to focus on someone else.
Similarly, catastrophizing traps you into thinking that your failure is going to last forever and will have terrible consequences. But the truth is that nothing lasts forever and oftentimes, things are not as bad as we think. Keep that in mind.
10. The concepts of success and failure are not absolute
Have you heard the saying: one person’s ceiling is another person’s floor? Thus, remember that your floor may be someone else’s ceiling. Your ‘failed’ life may, in fact, look like a dream to someone else.
At the same time, the idea of success and failure differs from person to person. You may be going through a difficult time at work and keep thinking that your life is a failure, but someone else in your place wouldn’t even notice it because they have different priorities in life.
Remember that failure is a relative concept. What feels like a failure to you may not be so for someone else.
For this reason, take a moment to appreciate your achievements and all the good things you have in your life. Yes, it’s difficult to be grateful when it feels like your life is failing. But practicing gratitude will help you see the bright side of your situation and remember how lucky you actually are.
Failure is not the end of the world
I made a decision a few years back that may not have been a good one. I cannot go back, and I cannot make the past disappear. And I am in the place I am because of my own choices. I wouldn’t say it’s much better or worse than where I was then.
Although now, I feel less in control of my life than before. There are good things about my present and there are bad, just like it was then. But at times, it gets almost unbearable to think of certain aspects of things I lost. I do sometimes feel like a failure.
The good news is, it’s not the end of the world. I can make a different decision at any time if I feel I need to. I am not helpless, no, not even a little bit. While I get confused and angry, I still try to keep my head above the water and see the best in my present life.
So, I encourage you to dig yourself out of the pit of failure and move forward. Yes, it might be difficult, but if you remember who you really are, you will fight for every bit of happiness you can get.
And you will win in the end. Good luck and be blessed.
- How to Stop Ruminating: 7 Techniques That Work - January 22, 2021
- ‘The World Is Against Me’: What to Do When You’re Feeling This Way - January 9, 2021
- 8 Ways to Protect Your Energy During Hard Times - January 4, 2021
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