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It happens to all of us. We’re in a situation where we have to perform, make a decision, or accomplish something important, and instead, we fail. We freeze up, or make a poor decision or simply don’t deliver the results that were expected. The outcome isn’t pleasant and we are embarrassed.

The reality, of course, is that no one can be right all the time. We may fail at something but, hopefully, it usually isn’t the end of the world. The problem happens when we find it hard to get past that mistake or failure. Instead of simply going, “Oops!” and telling ourselves we’ll do better next time, we dwell on our mistake and find it makes us timid and afraid to take on new things if there appears to be any type of risk involved.

This can seem difficult to overcome, especially if the previous mistake has had serious ramifications, but in most cases you can move on successfully. A starting point is to see a failure not simply as an ending point, but rather as a mistake from which you can learn and improve. It’s important to realize that you are much more than that mistake or failure.
Life is a learning experience. Yes, there will be things that make you nervous, perhaps really scare you, but when you have the courage to face such events, even if you may eventually fail at them, you’re taking action to learn and to build a better you. And the result will be, after time, that things that once made you nervous or scared are now clearly in the domain of things you can handle.

The key is to not dwell on the past but rather to keep moving forward. When faced with something that may contain some risk, it’s important to ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” Try to evaluate how you would deal with that negative outcome. Is it possible that not succeeding might even have positive benefits in the long run?
Too often we focus on the immediate present, seeing what has happened as a major disaster. But when we take the time to step back and evaluate the disaster, it usually turns out that while it was an outcome you may wish hadn’t happened, it’s almost always one you can move past.

Learn from a setback and you’ll be less anxious about trying once again.


CounselingWorks provides family Christian counseling on an affordable sliding fee scale. Contact us to schedule an appointment.


This article is provided by the American Counseling Association. Visit the ACA website at www.counseling.org.

Alex Williams

Author Alex Williams

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