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The Best 3 Ways to Deal With Failure (Plus 5 Painful Ones To Avoid)

The Best 3 Ways to Deal With Failure (Plus 5 Painful Ones To Avoid) post image

Are your ways of dealing with everyday failures helping or hindering?

Acceptance, positive reframing and humour are the best three ways to deal with failure, according to psychological research.

These three strategies make people feel the most satisfied at the end of the day.

The study, published in the journal Anxiety, Stress & Coping, had 149 people keeping daily diaries for up to two weeks (Stoeber & Janssen, 2011).

They reported the most irritating failure they had during the day, how they coped with it and how satisfied they felt at the end of the day.

People spontaneously used all sorts of coping strategies.

The results showed, though, that these three techniques left people feeling the most satisfied at the end of the day:

  • Acceptance.
  • Positive reframing – looking for the positives anywhere you can, perhaps by looking at what has been done rather than what hasn’t.
  • Humour.

In contrast, people who frequently used the following five common techniques felt worse at the end of the day:

  • Self-blame.
  • Denial.
  • Social support.
  • Venting.
  • Behavioural disengagement (in other words: moping).

Professor Joachim Stoeber, who led the study, said:

“It’s no use ruminating about small failures and setbacks and drag yourself further down.

Instead it is more helpful to try to accept what happened, look for positive aspects and — if it is a small thing — have a laugh about it.”

Professor Stoeber explained the advice was particular good for perfectionists:

“The finding that positive reframing was helpful for students high in perfectionistic concerns is particularly important because it suggests that even people high in perfectionistic concerns, who have a tendency to be dissatisfied no matter what they achieve, are able to experience high levels of satisfaction if they use positive reframing coping when dealing with perceived failures.”

Image credit: Alex Proimos