Failure & Its Usefulness - Premier Counseling
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Failure & Its Usefulness

By Kristy Burton, LPC, NCC

For many, perfectionism translates into a fear of failure. You want so badly to get it right – whatever “it” is – that it’s difficult to even get started. However, if you do your very best and still fail, what now? Many perfectionists see failures as a negative thing but taking time to see the bright-side of failure can make it a useful tool for future success. During therapy sessions at Central Arkansas Group Counseling in Benton and North Little Rock, we can partner with you to face failures head on and see them for the useful, learning tools they can be.

5 Surprising Benefits of Failure

Most perfectionists look at failure as a purely negative thing. A great way to overcome perfectionism is to start recognizing the potential benefits of failure. Some of the surprising benefits of failure include:

  1. Learning from failure means you’re able to better prepare for your next attempt. Never underestimate the benefit of learning from your mistakes.
  2. Facing failure can be an important skill for those of us who struggle with perfectionism. When the worst happened and things weren’t perfect, what happened? Was it as bad you imagined? Experiencing the failure you feared can help you understand and adjust your expectations. Hopefully, that means you’ll be less fearful of failing in the future.
  3. Trying again after failure helps you develop persistence and resistance, which can help you to persevere through even the toughest situations.
  4. Success often means maintaining the status-quo, but failure encourages you to change and adapt. Experiencing small failures can train your brain to adapt to life’s bigger challenges and encourages you to be creative and think outside the box.
  5. When you fail, you quickly learn that you are not, in fact, perfect. While that can be difficult for perfectionists, it can also be very liberating. Owning your failure gives you an opportunity to take a breath and relieve the pressure to be perfect.

So – Despite the Benefits – Why do We Still Fear Failure?

Perfectionists often struggle with the idea of failure for one of three reasons – embarrassment, challenge to self-image, and actual risk. Many perfectionists want to keep up appearances, so failure is seen as an embarrassment. Perfectionists may worry that people will think less of them if they fail.  Many perfectionists shape their self-image around the idea that they don’t fail or make mistakes. When failure at any level occurs, this can have a negative impact on how perfectionists perceive themselves. Finally, there may be some actual or perceived risks associated with failure. Instead of focusing on or catastrophizing risks, understand what the repercussions of failure actually are, and be prepared to meet these challenges.

The Importance of Self-Compassion

At the end of the day, embracing failure as an opportunity to improve and make positive changes is about self-compassion. Learning to think kindly about yourself and give yourself permission to stand back up after a failure is one of the greatest skills we can develop in order to lead a happy, healthy life.

Let the Central Arkansas Group Counseling Team Help

When we tell ourselves that failure is bad and perfection is good for so many years, it stands to reason that accepting failure for its potential benefits will not happen overnight. It’s a long process and working with one of our clinicians can help you through every step of that process. Call the Central Arkansas Group Counseling team to schedule your visit with us in North Little Rock or Benton today. We also offer telehealth sessions, so you can visit with us from the comfort of home.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash