How to recover from repeated failures

How to recover from repeated failures

My young daughter worked so hard on a Poetry contest since December 2015.  We rehearsed; role played and imagined victory. She wanted to win so much and was ready to work extremely hard to achieve success. As anticipated, she got shortlisted to represent her class and had to complete with 11 other students from other classes. After all said and done, she didn’t win. She didn’t even take the 2nd or the 3rd place trophies and was devastated.

She told me ‘Mummy, the boy that won the 3rd place even missed 2 verses! Mummy, I did my intonation, I did my facial expression, I used my body language and more.’ The judges were not fair!!!! Does that sound familiar?

With so much empathy, I managed to console her, reassured her she did her best and should be proud that she represented her class. I expressed how much progress she has made and should be proud. Most importantly, she gave her best and that is what truly matters. With these facts, I managed to help her accept defeat and appreciate that others must have done something better.

2 days later, it was their school party and she volunteered for a random dance competition. I know she is not YET a great dancer so i immediately prepared for another consolation session. 5 mins into the contest, she was ‘evicted’.

This was the 2nd defeat within 48 hours and this one really got to her. Her mood changed and got close to tears. I swung into action to help her recover. Here are some tips that helped her to recover from her 2nd failure.

  1. Accept what happened: This is the 1st step to recovery. Don’t blame someone else or allude impartiality. It doesn’t help.
  2. Find the positive aspect: There is always a positive thing in every situation. You may have met someone in that process, learnt a new skill, visited a new city and more. Look for the bright side even within the messy situation.
  3. Learn what could have been better: Every failure is a learning opportunity.
  4. Avoid Mistakes: There is a saying: ‘shame on you if you fool me once but shame on me if you fool me twice’. Try to avoid failing the same way twice- this is a irrational mistake.

Please do your due diligence, prepare, work hard.

  1. Occupy your mind: Find something to distract you so you don’t wallow in self pity. When my daughter didn’t win the dance competition and got gloomy, I allowed her feel her emotion but moved on to another game shortly afterwards to prevent her from dwelling on the pain of failure.  Did you just fail an exam, find another course to occupy your mind! Did you quit a relationship; engage in a new hobby or sports.
  2. Change your strategies: Don’t attempt a fail project exactly the same way you did the 1st Do more research, list your mistakes out, list what can be done better and apply the improved strategies.
  3. Process your feelings but don’t internalize it: Culturally, we are generally good at masking pain. Boys are told not to cry, girls are told to be ‘big girls and big girls don’t cry’. Women are told me be strong and men are told to be I disagree. It hurts when you fail and it is ok to cry or moan in pain but don’t dwell on it. Express your pain to those that are mature and can offer kinds words so you can heal better.
  4. Focus on what you can control: There is the circle of concern and the circle of control. Circle of control includes all the things you can control e.g your preparation, your time, your friends and more. Circle of concern are things you cannot affect e.g the price of crude oil, what others will say about you and more. Focus your energy on the elements within your circle of control and make the best use of them.
  5. Get energy from past victories- build confidence. This is crucial. Reflect on past moments of victory to build your self confidence. I reminded my daughter of the when she won awards to rebuild her self-esteem and confidence.
  6. Try again! Yes, Life is a marathon, not 100 meters sprint. It is a long journey hence there will be victories and failures so feel free to try again and again. After all, you have only failed when you fail but refuse to try again.


I leave you with some wise words from Maya Angelou.  While one may encounter many defeats, one must not be defeated.”


Picture credit: good reads.

Leave a Reply