Failure Is Essential In Resolving Loss

We live in a culture that avoids failure. We have replaced the notion of failure with the word “mistakes.” We dwell on success; anything less is humiliating. To a certain extent, these coping strategies are useful. But in doing so, the importance of facing failure is denied. Whereas a mistake encourages an individual to try again, failure allows an individual to give up. I believe that it is healthier to recognize failure as a loss, not to be reclaimed or refashioned, but to be left behind.  Mistakes are injuries to be repaired. Failures are deaths to be mourned and let go.

As long as we continue to believe that the relationship, the job, or running the marathon under 3 hours, can be achieved by additional hard work, change of attitude or other accommodation, we persevere.  That’s great.  But, what if the relationship cannot be improved, the job really is making you sick, and you cannot do better than 3 hours, 15 minutes in the race?  Perhaps it is time to give up the illusion and accept reality – stay in the job or relationship and don’t throw away your running shoes, if that is what you want BUT, don’t imagine that you are making some mistake that you can correct. Let the illusion go, accept reality, grieve any losses, and go forward.

If you are an early career therapist, you will find “What Do I Say?” to be an essential, comforting addition to your professional library. you can order it at http://www.amazon.com

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