Rejection and Failure
How to Explain Failure to Yourself
Ever since we were little, we’ve been wired as kids to achieve our goals with an aim of winning. If we fell down as kids we were told to get back, stand up, and keep going.
But when we mess up as adults, we create this metaphorical tower of fear combined with doubt and shame.
We land in this state of mind and can’t see anything except that we have done it wrong again. At what point in our lives from childhood to being an adult did the message go from “it’s ok to fail, you’ve got this”, to “you messed up big time and nothing can be fixed”?
How did we manage to alter our perception of failure and make it work against us by becoming nothing but hard on ourselves day in and day out?
As adults, we are wired to forgive the young and let them know that it is ok to move along in life not knowing how, and to figure it out as they go.
But as adults, who is telling us that it is ok to fail? Who can cheer us on without giving us the snarky looks associated with “you’ve messed up and done it again”? When will it be normal to fail?
Then, when we did not reach our promised goal we told ourselves and heard from others that failure is part of the process. We were told to get back up and swallow the pain and head on to push for first place. Every time we lose, we tell ourselves to push it further and do it harder. But what if the way to talk to ourselves is causing us to fail?
Feeling rejected hurts the most, our ego deflates turning us into a ball of fear and anger. We become people we can’t recognize when things don’t turn out the way we wanted. Rejection is life’s way of showing us that there can be better alternatives. Unfortunately, we are wired to see the negative first which may last for the entire experience. Turning this funk into a positive attitude may takes years to master and become at peace with how things aren’t working for you.
As creatives, innovation in our crafts and progression in life only take place after we allow ourselves to explore and go through ultimate feelings of discomfort caused by rejection. Whether it’s from a job application rejection or feeling rejected in your personal life the causes are not you. They never were your fault, it is just not the time for you to succeed yet. Let failure settle in and learn how to breathe into rejections and all else will follow.
Normalcy in failure shapes who we are as a society, we are taught to turn failure down. Failure should be an opportunity to new ideas, and served as proof of what did not work out for you.
In the technology industry, one of the daily mantras that are repeated in most successful startups who own products that have touched millions of user’s lives, is to “fail fast and break things”. In those words, if we move fast and break things we can get back up by learning what went wrong.
Fixing a mistake does not mean going back to trace the steps that lead to regret. Fixing mistakes simply means acknowledging what went wrong and identifying at what point we could’ve taken a different direction. By identifying why we are sad because of failure we are only able to move forward.
Most people worry that failure is going to ruin their reputation and people will start judging, as if these outsiders were ashamed for our mistakes on our behalf. When we understand that other people’s perceptions are not our business but theirs, we can begin to heal and allow ourselves to fail over and over again.
You see, by doing a lot of soul searching in the past few years and getting to know some really influential folks who are changing the world, I’m looking at you Rachel Hollis, I’m getting to understand the world we live a little better. Life is not meant to be easy and efficient.
The problems that exist in our lives are split in half – our point of views versus other people’s perceptions of our lives. How other’s perceive our failure should not be taken personal, it usually ties to the emotions associated with the perceptions of their own lives. Our points-of-views are basically shaped on how we live and were raised to accept failures and downfalls.
Life is looked at from different lenses all the time. Two people could be hearing the same story or looking at the same problem, but the reaction and magnitude of this problem is based on their personal experiences and perceptions of themselves and life around them. If you’re sad, then life doesn’t look so bubbly, if you are winning at life, then life is so easy-peasy after all, and so forth.
Designers Handling Feedback
As creatives in our fields, when we present our ideas and receive feedback other than what we would’ve liked to hear, we tend to question our systems, processes, and our beliefs. Having restricted conditions and design boundaries from early on in the process creates clarity later. Because every other unrestricted possibility becomes limitless.
When you’re faced with a problem as a designer and a thinker, you play with all possible outcomes based on your formulated biases towards the product that you’re building. Then you take the time to figure out the technology that can help operate and navigate through this malware or malfunction taking place with your clients or happening to your products.
Then, we sit and spend time to over-analyze why our vision did not align with the client’s needs for example, or questioning why was that other person mean towards us today by passing a weird comment. Stepping outside of our comfort zones to explain our situation, or in this case, design-decisions is an art form that takes years to master.
Ego sets in, it takes over our mental vision. We become blinded with the notion that everyone is out there to get us and tell us that we’re doing it all wrong. Then we resist, we begin to tell ourselves and trick our brains that we actually can’t attain this goal because we often fail.
It takes time but only when we begin to get over those sticky feelings of rejections in life, at a work presentation, a bad design, a mismanaged client, a wrong transaction, whatever comes to mind, we can only then move forward.
Keep Moving Forward
Processing failure should take time, give it a day or two, but guilt or regret should last for zero minutes. We should train ourselves to accept failure and allow our brains to flow freely when we know that a process did not work out or a feature didn’t function properly.
Restrictions make creations possible. When we are limited with time, resources, and creative constraints, we can build on new ideas by highlighting these limitations. When we are designing, in any form, we want to hone in our style so that things don’t run out of hand.
We tend to declutter the brain by conditioning and setting plans to be able to thrive in our circumstances. This is the ultimate test of creation. When we are faced with factors our brain wants to squeeze out the ideas that have no room in our scenario breeding a new possibility with endless outcomes.
But only after you move away from the eye of the storm that brought failure upon you can you begin to see these answers clearly right in front of you and can see the entire view.
Discomfort is the result of things that didn’t work out or function properly in our ideal standards and from our point of views. Squeeze out the discomfort and let the creativity flow in new ways of life.