How to Learn Resiliency

Resiliency is your ability to recover from failure.

Learning how to recover from failure is crucial if your goal is to attempt anything that you find challenging. As challenge is necessary to grow, and growth is a fundamental aspect of living a fulfilling life, failure is inevitable. These failures, however, are not important – how you recover from them is. Mastering your ability to recover from failure is at the core of being resilient.

Embracing the inevitability of encountering failure is required to remove any negative emotions you may have when you fail. You are guaranteed to fail repeatedly the more challenge you take on, and it is a healthy and natural way for humans to improve. Everything we now know is because, at some point, we attempted it, failed, and then tried again until we were successful. This is expected behavior in children, but as adults, we delude ourselves into thinking that a few years of experience makes us somehow immune to failure.

Failure is not a question of if it will occur, only when. Trying to avoid failure can often be counter-productive if how to succeed is unclear. If you do not know how to succeed, you must try something – anything – to try to make progress towards your goal. The alternative is to be paralyzed without a plan for success, and so scared of failure that you cannot even take the first step. When the path to success is clear, avoiding failure is a simple matter of following tried-and-true steps. When it is not, bold steps must be made even if the outcome of those steps is uncertain and fraught with risk.

We tend to make the mistake of taking failure to mean that we cannot succeed, but it is more accurate to say that we did not succeed in our last attempt, and may still succeed in our next try. This is the core idea of being resilient: trying again after a failure. A highly resilient person does not dwell longer on why they failed beyond the time they need to learn from their mistakes. With the new information they gain from learning what didn’t work, they then formulate a new plan for the next try.

None of this is to say that failure feels good, or that it is not discouraging. Instead, it is to say that we must embrace failure much as we embrace any situation we encounter in life that is beyond our control – which is to say every situation in life. It is our imagined sense of control over what happens in our life that makes failure surprising and depressing. Instead, we must see failure for what it is: a learning opportunity that is only a waste if we do not make another attempt.

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