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Mental Health
Sukriti Das May 28th, 2023 · 7min read

“Why Do I Feel Like a Failure?” (And What to Do About It)

“I can accept failure. Everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.” ― Michael Jordan

Truer words have never been said. There have been numerous times when I have faced failure or had things not go my way, and each time I stumbled, I learned to pick myself back up. Failure had always looked like a better choice than not trying at all.

Regardless of who you are or what you do, there are times when you’ll feel excited and feel energetic to start something new, but this enthusiasm may dissipate when you realize that you’ve failed to reach your desired goal.

And let’s face it; when this happens more than a couple of times, the only thought that swirls in your mind is, “I feel like a failure.

Why do we forget that failure is a part of life and that without failure, we won’t know what success tastes like? To be honest, it’s not our fault either. We have been conditioned to perceive failure as something akin to negativity.

The truth is that the more we stumble and fail, the more we learn. However, when you begin to look down upon yourself, it lowers your morale and motivation. Our self-esteem and self-confidence take the biggest hits. So, today I want to make you feel comfortable with failure and answer the biggest question – What to do when you feel like a failure?

The Psychology of Failure, Explained

Failure isn’t an indicator of success, nor it is something that tells you that you’ve truly failed. It’s more or less, a relative term and can be understood as how you value success in your life. Here are some examples of how you can think of failure;

You can perceive failure when;

  • You begin comparing yourself to others on social media. This makes you forget to be grateful for what you have.
  • You are neglected by a loved one and this makes you believe that you failed to impress them and thus, failed in life.
  • You are trying to achieve your workplace goals, but are filled with uncertainty and negative thoughts that you end up losing or failing your goals. Eventually, this may make you feel like a failure.

You need to understand that a small mistake can also make you feel less. I mean, I felt like a failure when I forgot to run my errands last weekend. But this doesn’t mean that I failed in life. Failure is related to what your mind occupies rather than the events that are happening in your vicinity.

Here are some potential reasons why you feel like a failure.

Why Am I Such A Failure?

One of the most common reasons why you feel like a failure is that the expectations you’ve set for yourself are impossible to meet. This happens when you set unrealistic expectations for yourself. Eventually, failing to meet these expectations can lead you to feel ashamed, angry, guilty, and even blame yourself.

Feeling like a failure can also stem from, as I mentioned above, comparing yourself to others. Whenever you compare yourself to others, your mind automatically reviews all the aspects others have and what you lack, even if what you have is more than enough.

Imagine looking at a friend’s social media and seeing how they’ve bought a new house or a great car, and how well are they settling down with their family. And then you begin the comparison. It’s easier to look down at yourself when this comparison begins.

Some of the root causes of why you feel like a failure (even when you’re not) can stem from;

  • High expectations set by parents/caregivers/teachers on a child
  • Having either highly critical or highly successful parents or family members
  • Unaddressed mental health disorders like depression, anxiety, etc.
  • Perfectionism
  • Internalized negative beliefs about success and failure
  • Poor self-esteem

Now that you know what might make you feel like a failure, here are some quick ways you can overcome feeling like a failure.

How to Overcome Feeling Like a Failure?

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings:

Acknowledge the feelings and be there for a bit. Experience the emotions you are going through, label them, and escape the discomfort by trying various ways to cheer up.

2. Listen or Read Motivational Stories:

Failure stories about celebrities who have successfully beat failure time and again such as J.K. Rowling, Bill Gates, and more can also act as a personal motivator to overcome feeling like a failure. We often take inspiration from famous personalities so why stop now?

3. Challenge Your Thinking:

You need to understand that thoughts are not facts. If you engage in these negative core beliefs, you won’t see what’s right in front of you. Take note of the evidence that’s in front of you rather than blindly believing in something that might not be true.

4. Avoid Making Comparisons:

This is something that might be a little challenging, but trust me, once you stop making comparisons, life would be easier. Remember that whatever you see on social media is never the truth. You’re never seeing the true self of someone else on social media so comparing yourself to others might be in vain. What others have done or achieved is not a reflection of you or how you’ve failed.

5. Look at the Positive:

Learn to face your failures like a warrior. Face the discomfort but dare to get up once again and break the stone. Remember, all your efforts earlier were not in vain and there are so many important lessons associated with it. You can achieve this by looking at the positives in your life. Balance it all out by expressing your gratitude for what you have and what you learned. That’s the best thanks you can give!

Also Read : 10 Most Effective Manifestation Techniques For You To Attract Positivity

6. Learn to Love Yourself:

Feeling like a failure comes at a time when you’re experiencing low self-esteem or poor self-worth. When you work on improving these aspects of your life and personality, you can learn to overcome feeling like a failure. Don’t be too hard on yourself and never be afraid to show kindness to yourself as you would a friend facing failure. Remind yourself that it’s OK to fail, but it’s also alright to be happy.

7. Learn From Failure:

Reinvent your definition of failure. Teach yourself that failure is not a definite label but an understanding; a perception, one that you can change. Learn all the lessons from the mistakes and failures faced, and how they can be avoided in the future as well as what you learned from them. Failure is never the end, but just the beginning of something great!

Wrapping Up

Failure is not something that you should be ashamed of, but it is something that you can look back and learn from. Silence your negative perception of failure by appreciating the little victories of success in your life.

If you’re still questioning, “Why do I feel like a failure?” then reach out to your loved ones or your support system. You can also consider speaking to a therapist or a counselor. A professional can help you understand the cause of your feeling like a failure, create new and positive thought patterns, and help you take steps to reach success.

So, are you ready to overcome feeling like a failure? Let me know what you think about this article in the comments below. And if you have more tips on what to do when you feel like a failure, leave a message at

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