The thought of failing is terrifying, no matter your age, situation, or stage of life. It is something that many of us avoid and feel guilt and shame about when it does happen.
The fear of failure can lead to anxiety, procrastination or perfectionism—which ironically can make failure more likely. That is why many experts in the mental health field recommend reorienting the narrative around failure and viewing it as something helpful and valuable.
No one can teach this lesson better than professional athletes. In order to succeed in the world of sports, you have to fail time after time and learn how to pick yourself back up again. In fact, failure becomes an intrinsic part of the experience for professional athletes. If they miss a crucial pass or game-winning shot, they can’t throw in the towel. They have to keep going.
Here are five important lessons athletes can teach us about failure:
- Your value is not tied to your success. Experiencing failure and coming out alive on the other side can teach you that your worth and value are not tied to your accomplishments or how much you excel in a certain area.
- You are resilient. Each time you fail and pick yourself up again, you learn something about your own strength and resilience. This, in turn, can make you more confident when facing future challenges.
- You are creative. If Plan A falls through, you will need to be creative to come up with other options. When you fail and try again, you work the part of your brain connected to critical thinking and creativity.
- You become clearer on your priorities. There is nothing like failure to show you who your true friends are and where your true priorities lie. Sometimes it takes a setback to help us define our purpose and passion.
- Self-compassion is powerful. If you approach failure with self-compassion instead of criticism, you will learn the power of self-awareness and acceptance. This will boost your mood and self esteem and will help prepare you to take healthy risks in the future.