In therapy it's not uncommon for people to talk about their personal failings or failures. Failure to: yield a job, pass a test, make a deadline, sustain a relationship and more. Failure for some can be as mundane as forgetting something on your grocery list, not complying with a new diet or exercise regimen or feeling unable to reach out to someone you really wanted to make contact with. Most of us get angry with ourselves, cringe, freeze, shut down, feel shameful and disconnect from others after a failure. Some of us get stuck in these reactions though and have a hard time recovering and coming back to normal. Our harshest inner critic emerges. If you find yourself doing that read on.
We tend to associate the idea of "badness" with failure. And yet, failure is a fact of life, it happens. We are not taught how to prepare or recover from it. How we react becomes habit forming. But like all habits, your reaction to failure can change. After you recover from your initial devastation, there is an opportunity for fertile change and learning. Einstein is often quoted: "Failure is success in progress." If that sounds too optimistic that's OK. You may just need more time to heal from your hurt. But when you're ready, can you let yourself release your grip on your harsh inner critic? Can you allow yourself to look back and notice with curiosity-what didn't work? The more you practice this recovery from failure, your empathy for yourself increases, the size of your inner critic decreases and ultimately your negative relationship with failure transforms.