The Sadness of Failure

For many of us, we are taught that we must “succeed” in life to be worthwhile.  We must get that A+, achieve that award, or get to a high status in our workplace.  This would make us a “good person” and worthy of love.

Somewhere along the line we learned that we needed that external praise.  That we must always be making “progress” in life.

That people must see us as “good” and “successful” or we won’t be accepted.

Failure was not an option.  It was humiliating, embarrassing, and must be avoided at all costs.

How sad it was to fail at anything, and yet we had to keep our sadness hidden and pretend that everything was OK.

Deep down we felt that we weren’t “good enough,” that perhaps nothing we ever did was good enough.

So we worked hard, REALLY worked hard, to prove that perhaps we were good enough, at least for the moment when we achieved something.

And then the voice returned “but there’s still more to do, more to achieve, let’s see what’s next.”

The achievements never seemed to make the pain go away.

They never seemed to really solve the hole in our hearts.

With time and wisdom we may learn that they never will.

And instead turn to the work of healing our own hearts.

Grieving the failures of the past, and loving ourselves through each painful embarrassing failure we experienced.

Seeing the innocence of our pain, that we were just trying to do our best, and alas, we can’t be the best at everything.

We learn that first place means just as much as last because the real question was “did I love, did I grow, did I laugh?”

Perhaps the wisdom inside speaks to the truth that you are enough, in everything you do, failures included, just by being you.

What true relaxation may be, to set down the “not good enough” voice, and enjoy life as authentically you.


Ellis Edmunds, Psy.D.