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Failure: How to own it and move on and recognizing when it isn't your fault.




It never feels good to fail. No one says to themselves, "I want to see how badly I can mess things up," unless they are passive-aggressive and want to get out of doing something. Most people want to succeed and feel let down when things don't go the way they planned. However, it is not good to beat yourself up about something that did not work out. It is also not right to blame someone else for your misfortune. I have been an adjunct assistant professor for almost twenty years, and I cannot tell you how often I have heard students blame their professors for their bad grades. It is always "they made it too hard" or "they did not say that would be on the test." Meanwhile, the students who complain the most don't spend time studying until the night before and lose their syllabus five minutes after they receive it. The funny thing about a syllabus, it usually spells out precisely what is expected of students. Don't get me wrong. I think most of us have been there, done that when we were in school. The difference is learning that it is not the professor's fault but our own. This point is essential; how can you make a positive change if you do not accept that you did not put in the effort? It makes no sense to continue down the same path, repeating the same destructive pattern. Most students eventually get it when they receive enough failing grades. They admit they are at fault, stop blaming others, and find ways to improve. However, some people refuse to acknowledge that anything is their fault. They do this in their everyday lives, whether with friends and spouses or in the workplace with co-workers. They make promises they don't keep, procrastinate, and are generally lazy, and there is an excuse for every misstep. They blame everyone around them for their messy lives. They have failing relationships, failing careers, and probably a depleted bank account. They claim others are at fault, allowing them to deny responsibility, which is simpler than changing bad habits. Unfortunately, it does not usually lead to a positive conclusion. These individuals will likely never change and will continue down the blame game path for their entire lives. Which describes you? The person who eventually realizes they have been screwing up and makes appropriate changes or the one who will forever be the victim? It isn't easy to look at yourself clearly and recognize that the way you've been living your life is damaging to you and those around you. There are ways to get out of this destructive behavior. It requires honesty, not just to everyone else, but most importantly, yourself. It's not easy to admit you are at fault when your default is to point the finger elsewhere. Understand it is okay to mess up; everyone does. Even the most talented people don't win every time. They accept it, brush themselves off, and go on to the next challenge. They understand that failure can lead to more outstanding achievement because now you see a shortcoming that they can improve. You might not be able to change overnight, so take small steps. You can find additional information on how to stop blaming others here.


There is a whole different group of people who blame themselves for everything. They call themselves names like "loser" or "idiot" because something they believed would happen did not. They put in the time and effort and expected a great result. Life does not always work that way. Other people may also want the same thing (such as a job position) and put in a lot of work just as you did. Some things are just out of our hands. If the other person got the job, won the tennis match, received more credit, that is out of your control. You can only do your best and learn from the situation. If you say, "it's my fault, I'm a loser," you miss an opportunity to do it better next time. If you cannot accept failure and always assume you are a "loser," you miss out on the chance to improve and get it right the next time. If things are not exactly how you want them, see what you can do with the current situation. When you don't dwell on what could have been, you can work towards what can be, which might be something as good if not better. Understand it is okay to mess up; everyone does. Even the most talented people don't win every time. They accept it, brush themselves off, and go on to the next challenge. They understand that failure can lead to more outstanding achievement because now you see a shortcoming that they can improve. You will never know if you do not try, and you may miss out on what could be the best time of your life.


To wrap up, let us admit that we all have blamed others for things that are entirely our fault. We also likely have blamed ourselves for things we had no control over; I certainly have. People stop trusting a person that never accepts they are wrong. If you want to be successful, you need to own mistakes and fix them whenever possible. It is hard to take responsibility for big screw-ups, but it is necessary to grow as a person. It is equally important to learn how to understand that some things you cannot control, and therefore you cannot consider yourself liable for their occurrence. For example, if you beg off going somewhere with a friend and they get into a car accident on the way, you cannot blame yourself. It might be instinctive for you to say, "if I had been with them, it would not have happened." That is bull; you both would have been in the same accident. If your friend was cut-off by some moron, you could not have stopped it from happening. It is the crappy driver's fault, plain and simple. If your friend is hurt, visit them, console them, and support them, but do not blame yourself. If you find it hard not to feel guilty all the time, then here is a link to an article that can help you stop blaming yourself for everything. We are all imperfect humans, so we should accept our failings and try to do better every day. If we all did that, the world would be a hell of a better place to live.

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