We’ve internalized that failure is bad
Whether it’s math, sports, or social situations, we’ve all had moments where we gave up on ourselves. We “failed” and that became a reason to quit. We interpreted these moments of failure into seemingly unchangeable truths about ourselves. They became our story. We say things like, “ I’ll never be good at math” or “I always say stupid things when I meet new people.”
But “failure” is normal!
The truth is that failure isn’t a reason to quit. It’s part of the process of learning. You can impact your ability to learn by shifting into this mindset.
Most of our internal stories are born in our childhood. For me, it was “I can’t do mechanical tasks”.
A few years ago, I started to actively question this “belief.” I pushed and challenged my own preconceived limits. With a little patience and commitment, I learned that I could resolve mechanical tasks just fine on my own!
“Success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” Abraham Lincoln
We can change our internalized stories.
Our cognitive performance, or brain-based skill set, is strongly dependent on our mindset. Neuroplasticity tells us that we can actively create a physical change in our brains. We rewire our brains to adapt to new circumstances every day, but it’s also something that we can encourage and stimulate. It’s like having the power to upgrade your computer hardware with every moment.
We can change what we believe about failure and use it as an opportunity to learn and improve.
A former client of mine is a teacher. He used neuroplasticity to show his students that they were able to learn math, solve complex problems, and even do well on the standardized tests.
Here’s how he did it:
- Creating a fresh start. He empathized with his students. He told them that if they’d had a bad experience with math, or a bad math teacher, it could easily lead to a false belief that you were bad at math. This allowed his students to eliminate the baggage of anxiety and gave them permission to start fresh with math.
- Making failure normal and fun. He explained and re-interpreted mistakes as simply an opportunity to see where you could learn more. There is no inherent good or bad value. Knowing you have a ‘problem’ area, means you now have new information on how to improve.
- Caring and celebrating wins. He provided patience and real caring for his students progress. His obvious desire to serve and a genuine excitement for their breakthroughs created a new, positive association with learning math. Many students expressed in their testimonials that they actually had fun during these classes!
You can do this yoursef!
We don’t have to rely on others to help turn a mindset about failure into growth. You can use these same steps above, and with a little self-love, you can change how your brain is wired and the stories you tell yourself.
Revise the conditions and environment of “failure.” Find joy in the process of learning, and don’t worry about the outcomes for a while. Give yourself the latitude to try again, play, experiment, and re-experience failure as a positive opportunity!
We all have the ability to change how we view “failure.” This shift to a growth mindset can expand the possibilities for your life!