Improving My Relationship with Failure and Mental Health

I thought a bit about how I’d title this post because I knew that regardless of what I wrote, I’d feel some type of way about this particular topic. Like many other people, I don’t have a great relationship with the world ‘failure.’ At worst, the word terrifies me. At best, I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m not perfect. I think we could all stand to improve our relationship with how we deal with failure, and I feel like incorporating that improvement within a mental health framework is a good place to start. I’m not always going to succeed at being mentally healthy. I have to be okay at accepting that, and here’s why.

When I think about what scares me about failure, it’s more realistic than anything else. Yes, I’d say that I’m afraid of failure in that existential sense of failing in life, but most of the time I’m afraid of failure in specific situations. I’m afraid I’ll fail in running errands, or in working out or trying to help my family and friends.

Sometimes I’m afraid that I’ll fail at being a person, an irrational fear that is literally impossible! But that’s how skewed my vision of failure became over the years.

This fear of failure comes in direct contact with my mental wellness on a regular basis, making me afraid that I’m going to ‘fail’ at mental health. The problem here is that everyone fails at mental health at some point or another. We fall short of our wellness goals, and we do things that can be counterproductive to our mental health, etc. So if I know I’m going to fail – and fail often – how do I solve this issue? In this case, I decided to try and improve my relationship with failure in this one specific area.

For a long time, I’ve tried to improve how I manage failure in the broadest sense of the word. I didn’t look at failure when it came to specific situations or moments, and I definitely didn’t look at it in specific areas of my life (mental health, hobbies, relationships, etc.). I’m hoping that compartmentalizing my relationship with failure in certain areas will help me take a more balanced approach to improvement.

So, what can we do to improve our relationship with failure when it comes to mental health? An important detail that comes to mind is that our journeys are not linear – we’re allowed to have setbacks.

After living for decades being afraid of any minor setback, I have to embrace and acknowledge the fact that I will mess up. Instead of focusing on not messing up, I’ve realized that my response is more important than how I fell short. However it turns out, acknowledging this issue can go a long way toward self-improvement on the road to mental wellness, and I hope to share what I’ve learned along the way.

Time to hear from the readers! What is your attitude on the topic of failure? Do you like that word, or do you try to find other ways to talk about this topic? Let me know in the comments!


13 thoughts on “Improving My Relationship with Failure and Mental Health

    • Nathan @ MBNB August 19, 2021 / 1:43 pm

      Thanks so much Mio! It’s encouragement like that that helps me keep that tunnel vision forward and continuing the work.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Mentally Ill In America August 19, 2021 / 3:28 pm

        Me as well! You know, any form or facet of blogging has become a hobby of mine. So, I dig it! Be well…

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Nova August 19, 2021 / 1:20 pm

    Personally, I don’t think failure exists. You either try and learn ways/grow change/adapt, and try again.. Or you don’t try to begin with. I also find it ironic that you’d say you’re fear of failure is in the every day tasks.. Because it’s the simple, every day ones that allow you to see “Hey man, look at you! You kicked ass today! Look at what you did finish!” Confidence erases fear.. And little wins can build confidence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nathan @ MBNB August 19, 2021 / 1:42 pm

      Yeah, I’d say that my fear of failure has become severely skewed over the years to the point that I have to step back and assess what it is and how it got there. I like what you said about how confidence erases fear because I believe that as well, but finding that confidence can be tricky sometimes. Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nova August 19, 2021 / 1:51 pm

        It can be ❤️ Can’t find success without trying 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nova August 19, 2021 / 1:52 pm

        Also, maybe evaluate your definition of failure? 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Stephanie McKay August 20, 2021 / 12:24 am

    I relate to this on so many levels. Fear of failure can be crippling, sometimes. But, I also believe that the only way we can truly fail is if we stop trying (at whatever we’re doing). I, too, am trying to come to terms with my perception of failure. Loved reading this. Helps brings things into perspective.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nathan @ MBNB August 20, 2021 / 10:32 am

      I like what you said about truly failing! Yes, it’s hard to change perceptions of big concepts like failure, but it’s helpful to know that others are facing this challenge as well. Thanks for sharing!


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