Over last few decade, frequency of emotional disappointment have increased multifolds. Emotional disappointment rising from relationship struggles… kids not performing in school.. or even career setbacks or even as grave as losing someone special to a tragedy. Human emotions are an integral part of the human experience, shaping our thoughts, actions, and interactions with the world. Being emotional can not only inspire you but also break you to resurrect yourself from the ashes. While we often celebrate success and triumph, it’s equally important to acknowledge and understand emotional failure. These moments of setback, disappointment, and vulnerability can be powerful catalysts for personal growth and resilience. What we are trying to understand here is how the concept of emotional failure can be used to lead a positive transformation.
Wouldn’t we all believe that humans are capable to ‘Phoenix’ phenomenon, where a mythical bird rises from its own ashes. We all have witnessed such exemplary examples in the history and also do see such examples around us.
Let’s understand emotional failure first, Emotional failure encompasses a range of experiences, from the frustration of unmet expectations to the profound grief of a significant loss. It can manifest in various aspects of life, including relationships, careers, and personal aspirations. What distinguishes emotional failure is not the absence of success, but rather the emotional toll it takes on an individual. You can very well succeed but still can experience emotionally drained or exhausted. What unites these experiences is the emotional toll they take on an individual. It goes beyond the tangible aspects of failure, delving into the realm of thoughts, feelings, and self-perception.
Emotional failure is more common that we all think. This is not just limited to big moments of life. This can be very well be experienced daily. The most common examples of Emotional Failure are following:
Career Setbacks: The most common one impacting middle aged professionals, Imagine a professional who has invested years in a particular career path, only to face unexpected job loss or professional stagnation. This can lead to feelings of failure, self-doubt, and uncertainty about the future. Look around, many people must be enduring this on a daily basis.
Relationship Struggles: A romantic relationship that doesn’t meet expectations or ends in heartbreak can be a poignant example of emotional failure. The emotional investment in a relationship can make the aftermath of a breakup particularly challenging. Look around, many teenagers or even young professionals go through this and is becoming even more prevalent in this age bracket.
Personal Goals: Setting and pursuing personal goals is a fundamental aspect of human ambition. Whether it’s a fitness journey, academic pursuit, or creative endeavor, falling short of one’s goals can trigger a sense of disappointment and failure. I personally, have experienced this multiple times. I have seen dreams shattering and goals failing.
There are positive and negative impacts of emotional failures. It really depends on the individual to rise up and face the situation again. Just imagine, if JK Rowling were to give up on ‘Harry Potter’ after being rejected the first or second time. We wouldn’t have the amazing franchise to marvel on. She embraced 12 rejections before getting accepted and published. JK Rowling is not only inspiration to writers but also a classic example of tenacity of human endeavour. Few broad classes of impact of Emotional Failure are following:
Psychological Toll: Emotional failures can take a significant toll on mental health, leading to stress, anxiety, and even depression. The internal dialogue may turn negative, fostering a sense of inadequacy and diminished self-worth.
Learning Opportunities: While the immediate aftermath of emotional failure is challenging, it provides a unique opportunity for self-reflection and learning. The introspective and iterative process allows individuals to identify patterns, reassess goals, and gain insights into their strengths and weaknesses. The classic example would be famous basketball player Michael Jordan. In one of his interviews he said “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
Resilience Building: Overcoming emotional failure requires resilience. Each setback becomes a building block for resilience, enabling individuals to face future challenges with a strengthened sense of self and a more robust emotional toolkit. Vincent Van Gogh (the famous painter) once said “If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint,’ then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
The real question now is, “How do you embrace emotional failure?”. The emotional storm needs to be weathered safely and successfully to enjoy the sunny success and re-trial. To be fair, its not that hard. The following can be done to embrace emotional failure:
Cultivate a hide-out: Instead of succumbing to self-blame and harsh criticism, individuals should practice self-compassion. This involves recognizing the shared human experience of failure, treating oneself with kindness, and understanding that setbacks do not define personal worth. Many people hide themselves for certain time to re-ignite the goal and re-try. Personally, travelling to distant places is my hide-out. I know many people, who hide-out in libraries or even in their office meeting rooms.
Seek Support: One of the toughest things to do is ask for help and support. No one wants to show their weak side of personality to the world, however share your feelings with trusted friends, family, or even try to strike a conversation to strangers. Generally, strangers offer certain insights which even your closed ones wouldn’t have imagined for you. Talking about your experiences can provide valuable perspectives and emotional support.
Reframe Perspectives: One needs to see failure as an event not as destiny. Hence, the way individuals perceive and interpret failure plays a crucial role in their ability to overcome it. By reframing perspectives, viewing setbacks as opportunities for growth, and focusing on the lessons learned, individuals can transform emotional failure into a catalyst for positive change.
Emotional failure is an intricate aspect of the human experience that demands acknowledgment, understanding, and proactive coping strategies. By navigating the complex terrain of emotions, individuals can transform setbacks into stepping stones, fostering personal growth, resilience, and a deeper understanding of oneself. Embracing the transformative power of emotional failure is not about avoiding challenges but rather about harnessing the lessons embedded in adversity to lead a more authentic and fulfilling life journey.