Failure is Not a Person

I’m not good enough. I’ll never measure up. I’ve made a mess of my life.

The feelings of guilt, fear and inadequacy followed me everywhere. I couldn’t even see the sunshine accentuating the brilliant blue, northern sky. Nothing made any sense. I had a family who loved me, as well as a great teaching position. It wasn’t enough.

Disappointment with my personal performance, immediately followed by discouragement, sent me spinning into a downward spiral heading to the pit of depression. My self-esteem plummeted to an all-time low, leaving me with the thought, I’ll never teach again.

Like a familiar tune played over and over, I internalized many negative thoughts. Eventually I began to feel physically sick at the mention of going into my classroom. Although many of those repeated phrases were not true, they became my reality.

Have you ever felt like a failure?

Feelings are neither right nor wrong, but they come with a caution. They carry messages or thoughts that can cause us to behave in ways that become self-fulfilling. As I felt more and more like a failure, I began to act more like one, until finally I believed it to be absolute truth.

The late motivational speaker Zig Ziglar once said, “Failure is not a person. Failure is an event.”

I’m so thankful for those words, aren’t you? When I take on my failure as if it were who I am, the consequences are brutal: sleepless nights, headaches and other nasty results. When I look at my failure as an event, it gives me the opportunity to step back, evaluate it and learn how to do things differently the next time.

We all experience times when it seems that what we have done or how we have performed is inexcusable or unforgiveable We can choose to use each failure as a step up to improvement or a stumble that causes us to fall down.

Now that I’m older—and hopefully wiser—I can look back on that time with a fresh perspective. Instead of seeing it as a disaster, I recognize it as a significant time of growth in my life.

As a result of my experience with depression, I can now identify with others that are in that difficult place. I learned the importance of controlling what goes into my mind. Like an athlete that trains each day to accomplish her goals, I began to train my thoughts in order to recognize lies and only believe what is true.

It has been a long journey of pushing out the negative and rehearsing the positive, but it has been well worth the effort.

I am loved. I am one of a kind. I am acceptable and of great worth.

And so are you.


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