How To Cope With Failure

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Every single person has failed at one point or another in their life. Whether it was in school, a job, or even making a decision. Regardless of what it is, everyone has done it. But, what matters most is finding a way to grow from failure and instead, succeed next time. Lots of people struggle with finding the best ways to cope with failure. In our society, we are constantly told that failing is not an option and that if you fail, you are an automatic failure in that area. However, the stigma around failure needs to change. Instead of assuming the worst, and shutting down after failure, people should understand there are ways to grow from it. Failure doesn’t need to be thought of as only negative. Positives do come from it as well. In fact, failure tends to push people to try harder in order to avoid failure again. Also, failure helps people learn the skills needed in order to succeed in everyday life. Ultimately, failure is necessary for people to reach their full potential and succeed because it teaches life long lessons.

Failure is something that no one wants to happen to them. Obviously, failure isn’t something that should occur often, however, when failure does occur it pushes people to work even hard to avoid the feeling of failure again. Larry Smith, an economics professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada, gave a very memorable TED Talk, “Why you will fail to have a great career.” His speech targets people who constantly make up excuses because they are too scared to fail.“You're afraid to pursue your passion. You're afraid to look ridiculous. You're afraid to try. You're afraid you may fail”. Therefore, people do not pursue careers or anything that they have a passion for solely because they are scared of failure. He discusses the importance of failure and how when you fail you are more likely to succeed in the next attempt. He calls out to people who are scared of failure and pursued them to try things they are passionate about because they would enjoy themselves and their career but more when pursuing a passion. However, when people aren’t scared to fail time and time again great things can come out of it.

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Just ask Elizebeth Gilbert. An author best known for her book, Eat, Pray, Love, which was published in 2006 and was later made into a movie. It also spent 199 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list. During Gilbert’s TED talk, “Success, failure and the drive to keep creating” she describes her journey to becoming a well-renowned author. She tells the audience that ever since she was a child she had written all different types of stories. She was already sending her papers into The New Yorker trying to get just one story out to the public when she was a teenager. “I failed at getting published for almost six years. So for almost six years, every single day, I had nothing but rejection letters waiting for me in my mailbox”. Every single time she received a letter back she felt as though she should just quit and try to find a different job, just as Smith discussed in his TED Talk. Instead, Gilbert kept writing and writing until she finally wrote the perfect piece. After failing time and time again she soon found that failing all those times meant more to her than she could ever imagine. Instead of letting the failure overtake her as she once thought it would, she pushed through and ended up being even more successful than she ever thought she would writing the first words of Eat, Pray, Love. Gilbert then describes that failure and great success do go hand in hand with each other, “I finally began to comprehend the strange and unlikely psychological connection in our lives between the way we experience great failure and the way we experience great success”. While Gilbert did fail time and time again, she also succeeded numerous times with her extremely successful book. However, both made her work equally as hard. While she didn’t want to fail again she also wanted to succeed even more so than she previously had. Due to Gilbert's story, it is clear to see that failure is always trying to be avoided, but, it is impossible to avoid the inevitable. Instead, learning from past mistakes that led to failure is much more important than just giving up on something that is truly cared about. As an alternative to quitting, people need to push through and try even harder next time around.

Failure is also necessary because it teaches life long lessons. The main reason people don’t fail continually is because they learn to cope with failure and avoid it to the best of their ability. Coping methods are what force people to learn from their mistakes but also move on from them. Without these skills, people would constantly be hung up on things that happened minutes, days or even years ago, instead of just moving on. Coping methods usually start at a young age. This means the ideal setting for kids to learn how to cope is within a school setting. By learning efficient ways to cope during a young age, these strategies will follow someone through life and avoid failure in the future. According to Ingrid Brdar and Majda Rijavec, in their study “Coping with School Failure: Development of the School Failure Coping Scale”, it took students within four different schools and did a survey on different ways that students tend to cope with any type of failure. These students were asked to provide their grade point average as well as a number one through five on how well they thought they work on tasks inside and outside of school. It was found that the most common thing students do when they fail in anything is letting it out through anger, the most negative coping strategy. However, when learning and trying new methods it is usually found that positive strategies have a greater impact on the person, which will also stick with them. 'Overall pattern of results suggests that high achievers use more positive coping strategies (mainly accepting responsibility) and less negative strategies (anger, inadequate reactions) than lower or average achievers.” Students who also use positive coping strategies will also tend to do better on their performance during tests. Evidently, this study helped students understand that being about to cope with failure as opposed to just letting it cause anger causes students to perform better within school but also grow from their mistakes and continue using positive coping strategies for any challenge they face.

As seen, coping strategies are extremely important to learn. There are five important positive coping strategies that can be seen throughout Ingrid Brdar and Majda Rijavec’s studies. The most important way to succeed after failure is accepting responsibility. Ways to do this is understanding what you did wrong, understand that you can do better and encourage yourself to do better. Another way to cope is to seek comfort. This can either be done by asking for help from teachers, family, or friends. Really anyone that would help out in comfort. Another main way that is shown to help failure the most is by setting goals. The best thing to do is to write down things to do in order to succeed next time and stick to the plan. The least effective way is disengagement however it can help cope. This way someone won’t be getting much done but it will get their mind off of what’s bothering them. Overall, all of these strategies are effective in their own way. If one strategy isn’t helping it is necessary and very beneficial to continue to try different strategies in order to find the best ways to cope in a certain situation.

Failure is okay. It is necessary in order to learn lessons that will end up lasting a lifetime. However, failure shouldn’t become a constant pattern. Remember, coping is the best thing to do after failing. Look to use positive coping strategies is key to achieve ultimate success next try around. So many different lessons are learned after failing that are carried throughout the rest of life.

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How To Cope With Failure. (2022, February 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from
“How To Cope With Failure.” Edubirdie, 18 Feb. 2022,
How To Cope With Failure. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Jun. 2024].
How To Cope With Failure [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 18 [cited 2024 Jun 24]. Available from:

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