Failure – The darkness around every corner

Failure – The darkness around every corner

We are all failures…
J.M. Barrie

I am possibly being unfair to J.M. Barrie, (the author of Peter Pan), to not give the full quote. I will later.

In this blog I want to give an honest description of the experience of failure. Such honesty requires that I start with the big black hole of despair that some of us live in when we fail. The bigger the hole the bigger the failure.
It is a horrible place to be and chances are, you may be there right now as you read this. I want to be respectful and sensitive with you. The last thing you probably want to hear are patronising statements that only make you feel misunderstood and angry.

The terms and conditions of this blog however are, that we can’t stay there.

While we have to acknowledge the pain we can’t live in it forever. There are better alternatives.
Is it possible though to move on from failure in life? Is the only solution to turn our failure into success? Are we not doomed to fail constantly as we bang our head against the “keep trying” wall?

While this blog is aimed towards men it is still relevant to women who struggle with the same loss. Or perhaps for women with men in their life who struggle with failure.
I commend you for reading this as you look into one of the greatest fears of man since creation.

Darker than death

He wanted to be a success in life. He wanted to give good things to his family. He wanted to see his children grow up to be safe, happy, successful. He wanted his wife to have the comfort she deserved.
Then his business began to go down.
They began to financially struggle.
The time came where he had to take an entry level job on the other side of the country. As the primary earner he had to do it. They sold their house and moved.

He was devastated to see all that he had worked towards fall away. The pride of setting up a successful business had turned to misery. The joy of seeing his family live their life in comfort was gone. He was ashamed he had taken everything from them that they loved.
His heart was weak with the loss.

Perhaps that story resonates with you, perhaps it doesn’t. At some time, if not now, the pain that he experienced is also what you have, or will, experience. The pain of failure is not an exclusive property for any one to hold. We all have experienced depressive feelings due to failure in life and perhaps you are as you read this.

The failure in your life has become the failure of your life

For men I propose the experience of failure is devastating. There is no boasting in how bad you did at something. It is illogical for a man to celebrate in a failure. That is why us men can get stuck in stubborn repetitive behaviour trying constantly to get IT right.

Sometimes our stubbornness can achieve success but more often not. That is fine if we are just working on fixing our child’s bike. What if it is our marriage that is broken or our child that is dying.
Some problems just can’t be fixed.

What is it like when we seem to have lost everything, and I mean really EVERYTHING YOU EVER DREAMED OF, EVERYTHING YOU EVER HOPED FOR?

It makes you despair for your own life and the lives of those who love you.
Your emotions just flatten. There is no happiness. To feel how you feel is just too dangerous. It may result in the end of life.
To keep yourself and others safe you isolate yourself. When you are in company you simply stare only making eye contact when needed.
Your ability to think becomes muddled. You thoughts are preoccupied with what has gone wrong. Everything else that crosses your mind seems to be infected with the same looming failure. Your self belief to make anything work is corroded by the rust of self doubt.

The failure in your life has festered to become the failure of your life. The cancer has set in, the rot has begun.
Your relationships are not just broken, you begin to believe you are not capable of relationships. You can’t hold a conversation with anyone because you have nothing to say.
You turn to alcohol, porn, self abusive behaviours just so that you feel something alive in your dead life.

The darkness of your soul has overcome you. You have no hope for your present let alone your future.
You have lost.
You are a failure.

Failure is more than a feeling, it’s a choice of your will

As I said earlier I am not going to stay slumped in the muck of failure. Why?

Yes it is a corny, over simplified statement, but failure is just not an option. To stay in a state of failure leads to death. Death of physical life through suicide, stress related diseases etc. does happen.
There are other forms of death. Death of hope, death of love, death of faith. Yes we may well be alive and even seem ok, but inside is a hole of decay you keep well shut.

It may seem blunt and insensitive to say this, but do you want to stay in that place? Do you want to keep re-infecting yourself with the same stench?
Do you want to try and breathe in the fresh air of hope again?

You may believe you have no choice. You may believe you have tried numerous times and the failure just keeps getting more painful each time.

OK, you’re right.

I can’t help you, no one can.

So there you are.

Blog over.



You want more? Why? Do you want a happy ending? Do you believe in happy endings after all?

I am going to guess that underneath all the gunk of negativity there is still a desire to sort this out. If you acknowledge that, you are by default believing it is possible to overcome the depression caused by failure.
If there is a gift for you in this situation it maybe that point of reaching complete despair. The point where all you can do is turn around and try to feel the sun on your face again.

As I write today is Easter Saturday. For Christians it is the day of emptiness after loss. The Christian story does not end there though. It is followed by the hope of resurrection. The hope of life where there was once death.

Success is not the answer

If you really want to get out of the pit of despair that you are in, you have to accept you may never succeed. What you have tried to achieve may never be attainable.
You may never get that job or marry the woman you have wanted for so long. A time comes when you just have to put the tools down and admit you can’t build that kitchen unit from Ikea after all.

I’m sure you’ve seen the social media meme that says, “The definition of insanity is to keep making the same mistake over and over again”.
We need to separate our belief that we are a failure from the failure we have in our life.

Unfortunately when it comes to experiencing failure we can easily view it as an expression of who we are. When this thought begins to set in, we need to root it out. If we have done it before we should do it again. There is no vaccine against repetitive negative thinking.

It is your choice how you view failure, choose wisely.

Suggestions for how to fail

I’m sorry to break it to you but you will fail again and again in life. If you believe you have never failed all I can say is go and see a psychiatrist.
So how can we fail without eventually believing we have become a failure?

  • Be S.M.A.R.T. Was what you tried to achieve Specifically defined and Measurable? Were you really sure of what you were doing to start with? Was the object of your work Achievable? Were you aiming too high? Were you setting yourself up to fail?
    Could you ever have Realistic aspirations to succeed? Can you become the next Superman actor at the age of 50? Did you have enough Time? Did you have too much time and just procrastinated?
  • Untangle the web. Failure can have a domino effect. Something as small as not being able to put up a shelf can represent to us so many other bigger issues. Shelf = manhood. I know ladies but DIY really is the key to a man’s masculinity.
    Failures in relationships or careers can be set off by a series of smaller events over a long period.
  • Don’t be so catastrophic. Failure can snowball. It can roll around in the muck getting bigger and bigger until it is so huge you can only see blackness. You have surrounded yourself in failure.
    Firstly don’t let this happen to start with, but if you are in this position – break it down into manageable pieces. It is like untangling the web one string at a time. Failure is usually not the big monolith it appears to be but a collection of bits and pieces of this and that.
  • Tell someone about it. Yes it is obvious for a counsellor to say this but it really does help to talk to someone. Anyone you think will listen, or read an email. Tell them as little or as much as you like. Just chose someone who you trust to not broadcast it to the world and will literally give you the time of day.
    However do not expect them to understand you unless you are both prepared to put in the time and effort to achieve this. They may obviously misunderstand you. In such a situation tell them you just want them to listen to you.
    When we hear ourselves tell our story, the illogic of our situation may unravel in front of our own ears. The mountain of negative emotion may then begin to crumble.
    If your listener does respond with some helpful words act on them.
  • And remember the bare necessities of life Life really isn’t as serious as you think all the time in every situation. The sun will rise and the sun will set. It actually takes a lot of energy to keep yourself in a negative self defeating space. A time will come when the emotional darkness will lift even briefly.
    If at all possible keep a sense of humour. It will pay you back.

Before I leave

May I now finish that quote from J.M. Barrie,

We are all failures – At least the best of us are.

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