Failure is hard to avoid in life, especially for people who want to achieve something. If the individual avoids any situation where they can fail, they will also miss out on the opportunity to be successful. It really does seem that success and failure go hand in hand, but it would not be right to say that they are always opposites. In fact, failures can lead people towards success. It is all a matter of how people view such negative outcomes. Some people take failure to mean that they are no good, so they give up right away.
The ability to deal with failure is vital for those who are recovering from an addiction. In order to build a success life away from substance abuse, they will need to take chances. There will be failures as well as success. If the individual is not prepared to face such failures, and learn from them, it can be a threat to their sobriety.
These are some situations that might be perceived as failure in recovery:
* Setting a time-specific goal and not managing to achieve it
* Promising to do something and not living up to this
* A relationship breakdown
* Not achieving expected results
* Working hard at something but not being rewarded
* Not gaining desired employment or position
* Missing out on a promotion
* Not passing a test
If people face failure in recovery it can cause them to become disheartened. These are some of the dangers disheartenment:
* The individual can view a failure as the end of the world. They fail to appreciate the reality that success often involves many episodes failures along the way.
* Some individuals have unrealistic expectations of life in recovery and believe that sober life should be easy. Such people can view failure as evidence that sobriety is a disappointment.
* Those with low self-esteem may use failure as an excuse to tear themselves down. They may judge failure as evidence that they are somehow unworthy of any success.
* Those with a shaky recovery may use any failure as an excuse to return to the addiction.
* Failure can lead to all types of negative emotions. If the individual wallows in this negativity it can lead to stinking thinking and relapse.
* There are many individuals who use fear of failure as an excuse not to make an effort in life.
* In order to achieve anything meaningful in life it is usually necessary to face failure as part of the process. Those who find it difficult to handle failure can struggle to find success.
* The only real way for people to fail in life is for them to quit trying. It means not only giving up on their dreams but also themselves.
People react differently to being faced with failure. Some individuals benefit from this type of setback because:
* Knowing what does not work can be a great help. It can guide the individual towards what does work.
* Failure can be motivational. It encourages the person to redouble their efforts to find success.
* Failure can be a better motivation for personal growth than success. When everything is going well, the individual has no real reason to try for better.
* Life is all about experiencing things. The fact that the goal was not obtained on this occasion does not make the journey any less meaningful.
* Failure can force people to think outside the box. This means that they come up with novel solutions to problems that they would otherwise not have considered.
* Failure can be viewed as a test to see if the individual really wants to achieve their ambitions.
Professor Randy Pausch gave a motivational speech in 2007 called Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams. This talk has since become better known as The Last Lecture. At the time of the speech Randy Pausch had been diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, and this made his words all the more meaningful. During this lecture, he discussed failure and the obstacles that get in the way of people achieving their dreams. Pausch argued that such failures were only there to discourage those people who did not feel passionate enough about meeting a goal. Instead of failure being something that gets in the way of success. It is something that makes success more special. Looking at things from this point of view can be highly beneficial for those who are faced with failure. Randy Pausch is testament to the effectiveness of this approach. He gracefully faced failure many times and still managed to achieve his dreams.
Failure is almost certain to be something that people will need to face in their recovery. Those who are surprised to end up in such a position have unrealistic expectations of what a sober life involves. If people deal positively with failure it can plant the seeds for future success. This can be achieved by:
* Accepting failure as just part of the journey to success, as it can often turn out to be a friend in disguise.
* Trying to learn from failure as much as possible. This is important because if people keep on doing the same things, the same things will keep on happening to them.
* Being mindful of failures. Not doing so leads to delusion and hinders the person’s ability to learn from their mistakes.
* Learning to cope with the stress and negativity of failure by practicing meditation or another other relaxation technique.
* Understanding that failures do not have to define a person. The most successful people in the world will have failed many times and picked themselves up again.
* Sharing negative feelings with a trusted friend or sponsor in a recovery fellowship.
* Journaling about failures. This allows the person to see that failure is all part of the process, and it provides testament that they have managed to recover from failure before.
* Embracing humility and humor as antidotes to feelings of failure and negativity.