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How to Deal with Failure After You Have Escaped from Addition


failureIt would be wonderful if giving up alcohol or drugs meant living happily ever after, but unfortunately that’s just not the way it is. You will still have to deal with life, meaning having to at least occasionally face failure. Living is likely to feel like a struggle at times, but if you have the right attitude, it can actually make life even more exciting. If you have the wrong attitude when it comes to dealing with failure in recovery, it will mean you can expect a bumpy ride going forward.

Realistic Expectations are Vital in Recovery

The problem with unrealistic expectations in recovery is that they just set you up for failure. The higher your expectations, the more disappointed you could end up feeling. You could then use your disappointment as an excuse to stop trying or to even relapse back to your old addictive behaviours. You will be able to do many great things in recovery, but you need to understand that the journey to your goals is not always going to be smooth.

If you expect to fail occasionally in recovery, it will not come as such a shock to you when it happens. It means that you are not expecting a free pass in life just because you gave up alcohol or drugs. Life can be tough at times but perseverance always pays off in the end. The fact that you have to fight so hard to get to where you want to in life makes the rewards all the sweeter.

Failure is a Part of Life

Failure is just a part of the journey and there is nobody who is immune from bad times. The difficulties of life are what make it interesting. It is only by struggling occasionally that we become able to appreciate the good times. Success could not exist without failure; if there were only success, it wouldn’t mean anything.

Types of Failure in Recovery

You might encounter many types of failure in recovery but the most common include:

  • losing your job
  • not getting a job you applied for
  • seeing your business go bust
  • marriage or relationship breakup
  • failing an exam
  • losing a friendship
  • developing financial problems
  • developing other addiction problems
  • becoming stuck in recovery
  • having a relapse or slipping back to your old addiction
  • failing to achieve an ambition.

The Benefits of Failure

It might seem like a very odd thing to suggest but failure is a crucial part of success. In fact, it is hard to imagine how anyone could succeed in life unless he or she failed a few times. This is why it is common for successful entrepreneurs to recommend that people hoping to follow in their footsteps ‘fail fast’; this means getting the failing out of the way as soon as possible.

There are many benefits to failure, including:

  • Knowing what doesn’t work is often as important as knowing what does.
  • If you can learn from your failures, it can provide you with valuable information. The type of teaching provided by dealing with failure is not something that is available in books.
  • Failure can motivate you to try harder in the future.
  • Failure is a way to test your commitment. It takes hard work to achieve anything, and this failure discourages you from investing a lot of time in something you do not really care enough about.
  • Achieving success is often described as the hero’s journey; there could be no hero’s journey unless there were plenty of monsters to slay along the way.
  • Failure can often lead to new innovative ideas that would never have been discovered otherwise. A good example of this is the inventor of the sticky note; he was actually trying to create the strongest glue ever, but his failure led to the development of something wonderful.
  • Failure encourages people to dig deeper.
  • Failure helps to get people back onto the right path.

How to Deal with Failure

The only real failure in life is giving up. So long as you keep rebounding from mistakes, you have not really failed no matter how bad things have been. Time often gives us a very different perspective on failure, and we can usually look back to see that it was the best thing that ever happened to us.

Here is an example of how failure can sometimes be a good thing. You could apply for a job but feel like a complete failure because you didn’t get it. This rejection might leave you feeling depressed and disappointed for a few days, but you pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and keep on applying for jobs. You work hard to figure out why you failed to land the first job, and you redouble your efforts. Six months later, you manage to land an even better job – an opportunity that would not have come your way unless you had failed. Therefore, it would be reasonable to say that the original failure was actually a good thing.

Here are a few suggestions for how you should deal with the failure that is inevitably going to come your way occasionally in recovery:

  • You need to develop the right mindset for failure, which means that you view it as part of the path to success.
  • It is understandable that you might want to spend a couple of days licking your wounds after facing failure but don’t dwell in this negative mindset for too long.
  • The way to turn failure into success is to learn from it; if you don’t learn from your failures, you are almost certainly going to keep on repeating them.
  • Understand that all success is built on a mountain of failure; you cannot become successful in life unless you are able to face failure.
  • Never take failure personally, as it is something that happens to everyone.
  • Remember that the only real failure is to give up on your dreams.
  • Read inspirational material about successful people who have needed to recover from failure; you can find plenty of free content like this online, including on blogs, in web articles, YouTube videos, and podcasts.
  • Try to spend as much time as you can with inspirational people as these individuals can really offer you a great deal of support and encouragement when things are not going well.
  • Remember that no matter how bad things are now, they would be much worse if you were drinking or using alcohol.
  • Keep in mind that the tide always turns – things don’t just keep getting worse and worse so long as you are trying to improve them.
  • Have faith that success could be waiting for you right around the next corner.
  • Consider the worst-case scenario of this failure – could you live with this? If you can then you have nothing to fear.
  • If you are continuing to fail, it is usually a sign that you need to change your strategy.
  • Use journaling to help you see things more clearly; the act of writing can also be a great way to release pent up emotions.
  • Remember that so long as you are sober, you are a winner in at least one area of your life.

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