Stop setting up for Failure

Image Courtesy: TheDigitalArtist

We all have been through that zone in our life at some point or other. And for some of us, it feels like we are always in that mode. A failure mode, where thoughts are only about the failures we have encountered, the things we could have done better, decisions which could have made life better right now and well the list goes on.

What is it that we want from life? To be happy and content? Achieve our goals and dreams? If that is what we want, then focusing on all the times we have failed or when things have gone wrong is just not going to help. It is like we are setting ourselves up for failure.

Breaking the Wheel

Breaking this chain of thoughts is not an easy task. Specifically, if our mind got used to this way of thinking over the years. It is quite simple to just say, “Be Positive”, “Believe in yourself” and all that. But getting the mind to accept something against its conditioned way of thinking is the most difficult part.

It is like inertia from Newtons laws. Inertia is a tendency for a moving object to continue moving or a stationary object to be stationary. Similarly, the mind wants to continue down the same slippery path it got used to moving in. Berating oneself and getting angry for even having such thoughts is just going to make it worse. It is like a recursive function with no return. It keeps calling itself again and again. Leaving us with nothing but conflicting thoughts.

Overcome Inertia

How to get out of this never-ending spiral is a good question. And I do not have a concrete answer for this since different people have their own ways of dealing with it.

If we compare to the actual inertia example we took earlier, Inertia is overcome when an external unbalanced force acts on it. Simply put we need to jolt our mind out of its motion.

Easier said than done I know.

Now failing at something is not a single event. Multiple things adding and piling up lead up to what one considers as a failure. Like flunking a test was due to not preparing better when you had more time, or messing up a cake recipe can be because of the lack of practice in making it. So we should start small and focus on what builds up to be a failure.

The following are just thoughts I had on resolving this.

1. Daily Accomplishment Log

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When we have a place to jot down our simple success over minute things which we were having trouble with, the mind will slowly start to adapt to us succeeding rather than failing.

Just keep a simple book (Or notes app if you want to stay digital) where you can note down at least one thing you were able to do which you were not doing before due to negative thoughts. This need not be anything big. Something as simple as folding clothes, or writing one line for the book you were working one can be added.

And at the end of a week or a month, go back and read what all has been done. This can be a real motivation to do more and get the mind changing at the same time. Also, remember that there will be days where nothing was done. Don’t beat yourself up over this. If not today, then tomorrow it can be done!

2. Meditation

Meditation can really calm the mind. And when the mind is calm, there will be less frustrating thoughts to mess us up. This, in turn, leads us to focus more on what can be done and complete this. There is so much that can be said about meditation which will not even fit into a single blog post. So am not explaining it further at the moment.

3. Deep Breaths

Even if you are not interested in meditating, try taking deep breaths when thoughts about being a failure at anything or negativity come up. Even 10 good deep breaths can help centre and calm you for a bit. Every small change counts. It may not seem big at the moment, but the mind will slowly get used to this and get out of its defeatist attitude.

4. Affirmations

This one might seem a bit sceptical. But I can verify with personal experience that writing down positive affirmations can calm down a lot of anxiety. May not work in all cases. But can’t hurt to try right?

I found that writing daily affirmations in the morning helps me get the day started in a better way than otherwise. These affirmations should be related to whatever you feel you are failing at. Write self-confidence boosting lines, or even a simple “Today is going to be a good day”.


Do you have your own methods of getting out of a failure thought spiral?

What do you do to overcome negative thoughts?

Drop a comment and let me know!


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