There’s no such thing as failure. There’s only giving up. Think about that for a moment. If you stop before you succeed, you’re done. There’s not many things in life where failure is terminal. Of course, in those situations, you don’t get to try again because you’re dead. This is not about those times. For those, make damn sure you don’t fail.
For everything else, when you fail (and you usually will at least once), you usually learn something that can get you the next step towards success. If you learned to walk, ride a bike, or deal with a disability, you know this already. The problem is, as we get older, we forget that failing is OK. Someone teaches us that the opposite of success is failure, and we second guess ourselves every time we make a mistake.
But you know what? You have already overcome difficulties and challenges, and you can do it again. Whatever is going on right now is not going to beat you. It may take all your energy to keep putting one foot in front of another. And it’s not cheating to lean on friends when times are difficult (see You Are Dependent and You Are Independent).
The problem is that we can only ever see what’s going on right now, as well as our worst idea of what could happen. There’s some evidence that this can actually be helpful – if we can see the worst case scenario and plan for it, or see that it’s not so bad, we can have confidence to proceed. But what do we do when the worst case scenario looks too big to bear? When all our circumstances seem to gang up on us and wear down our ability to cope with any of them?
In times like that, I wish it were easier to see how things were going to pan out. A lot of the time we make things worse, then panic and do something silly. We forget that we’ve lived through hard times and made it through. If you’ve been through so much, it wears you out, but it often means that you’re better equipped to push on through what’s happening now than if your life had been plain sailing.
Often the key to overcoming is just not stopping. Some of us have a healthy stubbornness that keeps us from just giving up. Others of us need to learn that, and focus on what is important to us, so that we can push through obstacles.
Don’t give up. If you keep not giving up, eventually you will get there. That’s one of the big obvious lessons that we seem to not learn in our life because it’s simple – but not easy.