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Fourteen Reasons Why You Are Not A Failure

Beverly majored in psychology and health science and has a strong interest in improving the mental, spiritual, and physical lives of others.

How Do You Define Success?

What do you think makes successful people a success? Is it lack of failure or is it persevering through difficulty, rejection, humiliation and seemingly impossible odds to become a winner?

In some ways we would like to think that our lack of success in life was due to outside influences. We were born the wrong race, the wrong sex, in the wrong financial bracket or the wrong neighborhood. It is a lot easier to succeed when you have the right genetics, education, support and encouragement, but even people raised in idyllic conditions fail to reach their full potential in life so there has to be some other driving factor.

Are we to blame for our lack of success or are there hidden conditions which prevent us from doing what we want to do like get fit, become a mentor whom others look to for wisdom and strength, become the rulers of our own selves maybe by starting our own business or being financially independent of others? What drives you to do what you do? Have you given up on your goals because they seem too impossible to achieve or have you accepted mediocrity as a way of life because it is less stressful than excelling?

For All of Us There Are Levels of Success and Failure — None of Us Are Perfect

A friend of mine used to joke. I am perfect — at failing… It seems like a lot of us identify with that statement.

If you have ever gone on a diet to lose weight and then gained all the weight you fought to lose back again plus more or have struggled to become financially secure but still live paycheck to paycheck or struggle to find work in a field you are overly-qualified to work in but can’t get hired, then you know the pain of feeling like you have failed at this game called life.

Just because you do not have the things you desire in life does not make you a failure and there are a million and more things we can fail at every day but also a million or more things at which we can succeed. A lot of it depends on our perception.

Are we — like egotistical narcissists — looking at our own greatness? Are we comparing ourselves to others to form our own sense of worth, often while condemning those we deem less successful? Are we content with being who we are and not caring what other people think we should be?

How Do We As a Nation Define Failure and Success?

Success is often defined as the accomplishment of a goal. If you have a good outcome then you are successful. Failure is lack of success, but is it more than that? The Etymology Dictionary defines failure as being unsuccessful in accomplishing a purpose — to cease to exist or to come to an end. The word failure comes from the old French falillir — to disappoint or to let down. The Latin word was fallere — to trip or fall down — to trick or deceive — to cheat, be lacking or defective.

Have you noticed the trend here? It seems that failure comes with a heavy burden of defectiveness on the part of the person doing the failing. No wonder we feel bad when we perceive that we have not done all that we were meant to do, but fear not — there is hope for all of us failures and maybe we might discover that failure is not the doomsday prediction etymology predicts it to be.

Reason One Why You Are Not a Failure — You Are Here

No one is perfect. Many of us have greater obstacles to overcome in life. The very fact that you exist means that you successfully made it from the unborn to the born. Can you take a guess at how many didn’t get that far?

A 2020 CDC report of fetal deaths — not including abortions — over a three year time span reports that nearly 600 out of 100,000 fetuses over a 60 percent sampling of pregnant women in the US died before birth. Were the women carrying the fetuses failures at delivering a live infant? Were the infants themselves failures for not having what it takes to make it into the world? Of course not!

Most of the factors contributing to fetal death were not preventable. About 38.2 percent of fetal deaths were of unspecified causes meaning that no one really knew what went wrong. Another 33.8 percent involved placenta cord and membrane issues. A relatively small portion — 5.3 were due to diabetic conditions of the mother and 7.1 percent due to health conditions of the mother before becoming pregnant.

Mind you, there are many women with underlying health conditions who have successfully given birth and this is not to suggest that women who are not in perfect health should not attempt to get pregnant, it simply emphasizes that there are a lot of things that can and do go wrong during pregnancy and the fact that you are in existence shows that you were one of the successful births so your existence does not make you a failure — it makes you a success.

Reason Two — You Have Purpose

The definition of success is the accomplishment of a goal. We have many goals in life. As we learned in reason one — existing or surviving is an important goal in life. What other important goals have you succeeded in?

Did you learn to talk, to write, to listen, to read, to share, to hum, to laugh, to comfort, to love, to hope, to do a back flip? Okay, I failed at back flips, but I have accomplished all the other ten things listed above. If you did too then you are a success. You have purpose. You can communicate ideas and thoughts and encourage others. That is some pretty powerful stuff right there. Congratulate yourself on your successes. Let’s look more at purposeful existence in reason number three below.

Reason Three — Purpose and Why All Things in Existence Have It In Abundance

What is the purpose and meaning of life? That’s a hard question for many to answer. Growing up in a protestant church we were taught that our meaning and purpose was to glorify God and to do his will on earth. This meant that we were aware of a higher purpose — a higher calling if you will. Just as non-human animals were designed to survive and reproduce and contribute something back to the environment, so were human animals. We could build infrastructure to connect us with one another. We could communicate and share ideas. We could keep records of the past to help guide us in the future and we could teach and educate others to provide protection and care and to overcome challenges. When you think about how exciting it is to do these things it is hard to see yourself as a failure.

Teaching someone to be kind is a valuable skill with purpose. Making someone smile when they are feeling bad about themselves is also a gift and it is one that not only helps that person but everyone around them.

Your purpose may seem different from someone who has chosen a different career path but in truth, we all have the same purpose in making life better for others, not just ourselves. By showing concern and attempting to find answers to problems which plague us, we have invaluable purpose even though it may seem that for every good thing we do, a thousand bad things try to counteract it and make us look like we are the bad guys not the good guys.

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People will attempt to thwart our purpose in life and make us disappear in sea of despair supposedly for the only purpose of allowing themselves to shine brighter. Don't fall into that trap. Rise up to the top of those waves and set sail to friendlier shores and you are sure to find even greater purpose and meaning even if it comes with sacrifice and struggle.

Reason Four Why You Are Not a Failure — You Have Made Sacrifices To Get Where You Are

Sacrificing sounds like killing animals or slaughtering your first born-to appease the angry gods, but what it really means is giving up something that means a lot to you in order for the sake of something else. If you are a parent or have pets it may mean giving up your freedom to take care of them. If you need a new coat for the winter but you really want to go to that concert and you choose to get the coat instead — that is a sacrifice, even though it may seem more like an obligation — you are still making good choices over bad ones and that makes you a success.

You may choose not to buy goods from a manufacturer or food outlet that you really liked until you found out they treated their employees badly or supported a cause you found atrocious. Not patronizing them is also a sacrifice on your part. You are concerned enough about someone else to give up doing or consuming something which you feel is harmful. If you tithe to your church or give to charity or volunteer to read for children or the elderly you are giving of yourself to help another. That not only makes you a success, it helps to make others successful as well.

Reason Five — The Secrets of Successful People Are Not All That Secretive — You Probably Do Them Everyday

Two of the so-called secrets of success include forming goals and developing good habits which make those goals become reality. If you woke up this morning, brushed your teeth, combed your hair, got dressed and went to work or school or any form of preparedness which led to a successful completion of a task, then you are a successful person!

We all slip up on goals. We might eat the wrong foods for breakfast or subsist on caffeine or sugar, but you have a built in fail-safe that lets you know this is not good for you. If you listen to the signals your body is sending you and attempt to make changes to replace bad habits with good ones, you will find yourself succeeding in leaps and bounds towards your goals.

Write out a list of what you hope to achieve and the habits you will need to get there. If you want to lose weight, then make a list of nutritious foods you love and pre-plan meals one or two days a week so you can easily access them when you are hungry rather than reaching for a bag of chips or cookies.

If you want to get fit but hate to exercise try joining a gym that offers dance classes or has a recumbent bike where you can sit and pedal and watch television or read a book. Join a group which can encourage you to reach your goals and offer tips and advice.

Chances are the more little goals you succeed at, the better you will feel about yourself and the less you will focus on imagined failures and setbacks. If you can brush your teeth, put gas in your car, walk to the bus stop before the bus leaves without you or buy groceries, you have formed good, productive habits and are already well on your way to success.

Reason Six — You Know What To Do and Most of the Time You Actually Do It

You might know what you need to do, but you still don't do it but this does not automatically make you a failure. We all make excuses for not doing things we should be doing, but being aware that you should be doing something or being aware that you are doing something that is bad for you and others is actually a step toward success. You are aware there is a problem. Now what to do about it?

You may simply need the proper motivation to act. You may have to set a deadline or break a big job down into smaller ones. Find what motivates you to succeed and don't be afraid to ask for help if a job seems too overwhelming. Know your limits. It is okay to take a break, but set a time limit on things that keep you from the goals you wish to accomplish.

Reason Seven You Are Not a Failure — You Make An Attempt to Correct Your Mistakes

Have you ever goofed up big time? Maybe you got angry with a friend or relative and told them off. Maybe you stormed off a job you love because you were being pressured to perform at a level no human could withstand and being told that there must be something wrong with you if you can’t do what a trained monkey could do in your place. As if…

Often we let emotions or feelings drive us to say and do things we regret. If we are the ones hurting other people then it is up to us, not them to apologize and make amends. If they are unwilling to accept our apology then that is their issue not ours. Everyone says and does stupid and regretful things. None of us are perfect.

If you have ever apologized for your actions or your words — You are a success! Of course it would be better not to make those mistakes to begin with, but you know yourself and you know others and you know it is really hard to be upbeat and positive or humble and quiet or any number of well-mannered things.

Above all else it is difficult to keep your mouth shut when you are defending a topic that means so much to you, but try your best to give other people a chance to have their say and make your goal to look at factual information that will help everyone around you. Do not make it your goal to humiliate and ridicule and if you do fail to be civil then you need to take a deep look at why it is so important to always be right and always in control. Maybe people have tried to control you in the same manner so you are acting defensively?

If you correct mistakes and bad habits and attempt to be kinder and more understanding of others then you will find greater and greater success and be more accepting not only of others but yourself as well!

Reason 8 – You Set Realistic Goals

If you set the bar too high there is a good chance you will never get over it and always feel like a failure. Instead, start small and build your way up. You would not be very successful if you decided to get off the couch and run a marathon when you get out of breath walking to the mailbox one hundred feet from your door.

Realistic goals may yield small successes and you might still fail to meet even those goals, but if you keep trying you will get there. If you set out to learn to play the guitar and discover that you can’t afford a guitar and can’t afford lessons and no matter how hard you try your fingers will not move in the direction they need to move, then you may not succeed but that does not make you a failure?

it simply means that your talents may lie elsewhere or maybe you need to find a smaller guitar with softer strings or toughen up your finger tips slowly or find an instructor who can show you special tips to make it easier. If all else fails you might be able to find a keyboard synthesized guitar program. Where there is a will there is a way.

If you are trying to lose weight a realistic goal might be to walk an extra 1000 steps a day or eat a nutritious salad for lunch a few days a week. Do what you can to with what you have and make small improvements you can handle and those small improvements may lead to greater ones. If you try to do too much at one time you may feel like you are failing but if you have one small success after another it will encourage you to keep moving until your success may become bigger than you ever imagined..

Reason 9 — Setbacks Are Not Failures But Opportunities to Improve Success

Sometimes no matter what we do to become a better version of ourselves or to morph into some super hero image of what we would like to be — we discover a blockade of forces that we cannot break through, but there is almost always a way around it.

I remember once deciding I was going to solo bike twelve miles to a park and back home again. I was well prepared with food and water, but didn't own a cell phone at that time and as luck would have it, after successfully making it to the park and turning back around toward home, my bike tire was punctured by a piece of glass.

I had no patch kit, no air pump and was ten miles from home on a busy road pushing a very flat tire that forced me to actually drag the bike across the pavement. I had succeeded on part of my endeavor but totally failed to prepare for a flat at the peak heat of the day in heavy vehicular traffic.

The next time I went out for a long bike trip I went with friends and took a spare inner-tube, extra water and an air pump! Lesson learned.

What we see as failures may actually be learning experiences to help us do better the next time. When we have a bad experience, we can share with others what NOT to do and help them as well. Think of it as being a pioneering explorer in new field of endeavor and be thankful you survived the experience to live to try another day.

Reason 10 — You May Not Have Charm or a Charismatic Smile but Being Polite and Upbeat Go a Long Way Toward Success

Winning Charisma — that’s what one website says is the key to being a successful person. We all know the type. When they walk into the room — heads turn. They are the Hollywood movie stars we all come to admire, but does that really mean they are a success or like the actors and actresses they are, does it mean they are simply putting on a good show?

People are more willing to like you if they think you have something good to offer them. That sounds shallow, but think about the people who are your friends. Why do you like them? Do they make you feel good about who you are? Do they accept you faults and all? Do you share a similar background and belief system?

The more people you have backing you and supporting your goals, the greater your chances of succeeding. People need to be able to trust you and know that you have good intentions. No one likes hang around someone who is constantly complaining and blaming others for their failure to thrive.

If you are an upbeat person who is grateful for any success that comes your way and share that success with others by helping them reach their goals as well then you are a successful person.

You may see a need in the community and help to fill it. You may do a small act of kindness like reaching for a box of cereal on the top shelf to help a shorter person. These small acts of kindness and consideration endear you to others. They make you attractive rather than repulsive.

If you curse and belittle others, the only ones who will want to be your friends are other people who enjoy doing the same. If you are a pleasure to be around then people will strive to be close to you. They will see you as a valuable asset. You may not be charming or a butt-kisser but you can smile and see the good in the world when others only see the bad and that will most definitely make you a success.

Reason 11 – Having a Negative Attitude Sometimes Can Lead You to Be More Positive and Forgiving of Yourself and Others

Let’s face it — we all have a tendency to see the worst in people, places and things. In a sense, being critical of others makes us feel better about ourselves but this feeling comes with a nagging conscious which reminds us that we have our own faults as well.

There is a saying that it is better to have an attitude of gratitude than one of complaining and bitterness. The later can make you feel like everyone around you is failing and you are the only sane person in the bunch, but it can also make you see your own flaws and be more critical of yourself.

Have you ever noticed when you are critical and condemning that people either agree with you and do the same or they walk away as if you are a disease carrier and they do not want to catch whatever you are trying to spread?

Often the more critical we are of others, the more critical we are of self. While this may seem like a major failing, it is actually a first step to success. You have to realize how negativity hurts everyone it touches. Being positive does not mean you are unaware of the problems of the world. Let’s say your child comes to you and says they have failed a test. Do you berate them and tell them that they should have studied harder and are lazy and worthless and will never amount to anything or do you ask them why they are struggling and what you can do to help? Which attitude do you think would lead to a more positive outcome?

If you have ever called yourself fat, stupid or lazy then you have probably thought that about others. It sets up a negative downward spiral that does nothing to help, but it can be used as a wake-up call to find a better solution.

Maintaining a positive attitude takes work, but once you make it a habit you will discover that you feel a lot better about your chances of success and the successes of others. Beating yourself up only leaves you black and blue. Lifting yourself up and having confidence that you can overcome all odds gives you self-confidence to become a better version of who you would like to become.

Reason 12 – Day Dream Believer — Turning Your Thoughts Into Actions

If you are like me, you feel like you could solve all the world’s problems if only someone would listen to you. We day dream about creating the perfect world where everyone gets along and life is fair to all, but how do we make that a reality? Are we too flawed to take our ideas out of the planning stage and making them reality?

How many times have you shared your thoughts on improvement to a group only to be told what you were proposing was not possible? The key to success —says one self-help website — is to have a positive attitude, form a plan and put the plan into action. Easier said than done though, right?

Some goals are easier to achieve than others. Start with something doable. Let’s say you want to learn a new skill or join a study group. Your first step would be to find someone who teaches what you want to learn. If you want to learn to play hockey it will help to live someplace where there is a hockey rink, but there are also field hockey groups and inline skating hockey.

A number of schools offer continuing education classes. Churches and community centers also offer free or low cost skill training as well as study groups, exercise groups, group walks and talks. There are groups for photography and creative writing. You might even be able to volunteer at the humane society or a pet rescue to learn more about training and caring for animals if you don’t have funds or space to have a pet of your own.

There are always opportunities for improving yourself and learning new skills. Draw out a plan of action and go for it. Maybe deciding you want to be an astronaut is out of your grasp, but taking flying lessons, studying astronomy and visiting a local planetarium and joining a star gazers club can be a start toward that goal.

The more you pursue the things you love, the more likely you are to feel like you have something good to offer the world and the less likely you are to feel like you have missed your window of opportunity because you spent all your time dreaming about doing something rather than doing it.

Reason 13 – If You Think You Are Undisciplined and Cannot Accomplish Your Goals — Think Again

Whenever you hear about successful people you will always hear that word — Discipline!

I have a friend who is a fitness fanatic. Every time he talks about his success he will remind people that if they are consistent and disciplined they can lose weight, gain muscle, improve their speed, become more accomplished and be satisfied with their results rather than whining and complaining that life is too hard and they don’t have time to pursue goals because they are too busy trying to raise a family, pay bills and put food on the table.

Life seems to get in the way of success! That statement is the reason why you are a success and not a failure though. You are alive! Remember reason number one – you were born. You have survived to be a decent age. You may own a car, a house, pay all your bills on time or have no bills at all. If you are struggling to live a fulfilling life, remember that struggle is the key component to discipline. Struggle does not feel good. Sometimes it hurts. Sometimes you feel beaten down by the continuous effort just to stay afloat when you really want to be sailing off into the sunset with a water-tight yacht rather than sitting in the garage repair shop wondering how much you are going to be set back this time for the old clunker that makes you a little embarrassed to be driving around all the fancy new cars of some of your friends.

You don’t have to be perfect in everything you do. We all are disciplined to a degree and we all self-punish when we fail to be disciplined. If you don’t feel like going grocery shopping or washing your clothes and you go hungry and have nothing to wear — you quickly learn the value of discipline for you own happiness not because someone is forcing you to do something unpleasant for the joy of watching you suffer under their command!

You command your own life. You make your own decisions. If you got up today and got dressed and made your own food and cleaned your house and drove your car which you put gas into then you are a disciplined person. You can take that discipline and apply to other areas of your life.

You are successful in disciplining yourself in a number of ways — even when you literally bite your tongue to stop yourself from saying something you will regret. We are all disciplined in our own way when it is necessary our survival. If you want to succeed in other areas of life, you have the basic skills on how to do it — you just have to decide if you are willing to sacrifice some other pleasure and determine the reward level that this new discipline will bring and if it is worth achieving.

A flat belly may not be as appealing to you as a kind heart and if that is where you feel called to place your discipline then you do not have to feel like failure. There may be many things which seem impossible to you now, but if you really want to achieve a goal and have a plan to get there, you are half way to making it reality.

Reason 14 — You Are Uniquely and Wonderfully Made

Often the main reason we feel like failures is because we compare ourselves to others who appear to be very successful. I run pretty fast for an aging person but if I compare myself with Usain Bolt I would be an embarrassment to the running community and myself.

Psalm 139 is a good verse to make you realize that you are not competing to be the best human on earth and that each of us has a purpose that makes us very unique and very valuable. Verse 14 states that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. That means that all of us are pretty awesome creatures — flaws and all.

When people tell us we are too fat, too stupid, too slow, undisciplined, unworthy of love, incapable of greatness — we do one of several things. We may turn that hatred inward and only see our flaws. We may believe the lies and think we are not good enough for much of anything. We may become angry and like the psalmist toward the end of of chapter 139 we may pray for God to wipe out our enemies, but we often forget that we are our own worst enemy. We know ourselves better than anyone and we know right where to hit ourselves so it hurts us the most.

You are not a defective being. You are wonderfully made to be who you are. That does not mean that we all can’t use a little self-improvement, but it does mean we are not failures. Your very existence proves you were meant for a purpose. Your very knowledge that you feel like a failure is proof that you are not.

If we all felt like we were perfect we would have no incentive to grow into a better version of who we already are and trust me, no matter how wonderful anyone may seem to be on the outside, we all struggle with something that tries to prevent us from being successful.

Success Really Is What You Make of It

Success is often seen as having money and friends and fame and easy-living. We tend to think that people who are successful did something to earn it whereas people who have little did not work hard enough and are too lazy to make changes.

While both those ideas may have some truth to them, the fact is that some people have better opportunities than others. They started out with more resources or knew the right people who would steer them in the right direction. It doesn’t mean they are better than anyone else. Look at all the famous, powerful, talented people who commit suicide or do horrendous things to others. They may appear to be successful but they have failings too.

Do the most with what you have, but don’t feel like you are not capable of improvement. Being a good person who struggles to find meaning and purpose is better than being a bad person with resources who hurts others to gain more for themselves.

Never stop setting goals for yourself. Read books, join groups who will support your goals and give you positive feedback and new ways of achieving success. Don’t excuse away bad behavioral habits that harm your live or those who love and care about you. Don’t let repeated setbacks make you give up.

If something isn’t working for you find a different way of doing things that does work. Let your failings motivate you to success. Don’t let them define who you are and prevent you from being the best version of you that you can be. Surround yourself with people who love you and understand your struggles and don’t treat you as a failure but a work of art that only improves with time.

Love yourself and love others and you will be surprised at what you can achieve. Treat yourself with respect and understand that struggling to do better in life is one of the motivational factors of a successful person.

If you are feeling really low and need a pep talk, don't be afraid to check in with a counselor or share your thoughts with friends and family who will support you and help you through a low point until you can get back on track.

You can achieve anything within reason. It is okay to modify grand goals into doable ones. You may not be able to become a doctor but you can take a course in CPR and First Aid and still save lives.

To help you get past the I'm a failure blues, make a list of all the things you have accomplished — You are a survivor. You care about things and try to make them better. You changed underwear and washed before doing so. Hey — everything counts!

Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself and always encourage yourself and others to pursue those goals and dreams in whatever capacity you can muster. You were fearfully and wonderfully made. I am impressed that you made it this far in life and you should be too!

We Are All Flawed But None of Us Is A Failure

Don't focus too much time on all the things you have done wrong. Have you ever said or done something that was so embarrassing that you swore you could never appear before those people or places ever again?

The initial horror at doing something that is out of character for you — I once shoved a fellow student after asking him three time to please move so I could get to my desk to finish a deadline article. No one heard me asking him but everyone saw me push him!!!

There were whispers about that rude girl who shoved a boy for no reason and how awful she must be. Trust me, I am not awful and I did feel bad about it. I even tried to find him again to apologize and let him know I was just trying to wedge a gap between him and the desk to get past, but what happened happened and I cannot change it.

Sometimes you have to let things go. You know your true intentions. There is nothing wrong with making amends for wrongs done but don't expect other people to forgive you if you are not willing to forgive yourself.

You are not a failure, you are a work in progress and no matter what anyone says or does, there is a path to redemption. It may not be an easy path, but it is there if you are honest enough to find it.

Do you let past failures stop you from trying to succeed at things?

© 2021 Beverly English

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