BINUS Business School

Making Peace with Failure: How to Cope with It

When you are facing the hustle and bustle of campus life, failure might be a part of it. You might fail a test or produce a good concept for your project. It gives you a setback and causes negative feelings like disappointment and fear.

And it is fine.

Mistakes and failure are common parts of everyday life. Feeling disappointed is normal, but you cannot let it drag you down. Follow this guide to handle failure in a much better way.

Why You Should “Accept” Failure

Being in a competitive area such as a top campus creates a huge burden. Many people feel that they must work hard so they “cannot fail”. However, it can cause overly high expectation, resulting in great stress and disappointment. This is not a good state of mind to have in the long term.

The best way to avoid the effect of stress is learning to cope with failure instead of rejecting it. Accepting that failure is a normal part of life gives you a healthier view of how the world works. The acceptance will also give you the power to stand up and try again with new determination.


Tips to Cope with Failure

Here are several strategies you can try to cope better with failure:

  1. Allow Yourself to Feel the Disappointment

Many people refuse to allow themselves to feel the pain and disappointment from failure. Some, probably even you, mask them with a smile, false optimism, or jokes. The truth is: negative feelings are as valid as positive ones. Giving yourself time to feel the pain and disappointment helps validate your feeling.

2. Be Constructive in Viewing the Failure

Once you have enough time for your pain, look at the failure with a more constructive view. Ask yourself these three questions:

  • What is the most important thing to learn from it?
  • What are the things or mistakes that I did/repeated that caused it?
  • How should I do things differently in the future to reduce the risk of/avoid it?

These questions require deep insight and self-realization, so take your time in answering them.


  1. Consider External Cause, But Avoid the Blame Game

Sometimes, a failure is the product of internal and external factors. You can list possible external factors that caused it. However, avoid placing the blame on these factors alone, especially if you know you also have a contribution. Instead, use these external factors as tools to determine the next preventive steps


  1. Find Someone to Confide In

When everything is too overwhelming, find somebody to confide in and vent. They can be family member, friend, senior, lecturer, or your professor. Make sure they can be trusted with your venting. Confiding to someone will ease the burden and give you a chance to sort out your feelings because you have a chance to describe them verbally.

  1. Create Your Next Plan

Once you feel better, start creating a plan to avoid another failure or mistake. Create a reminder or note about steps you should do to avoid failure. Meet people who can support or help you in choosing different paths to avoid failure and mistakes.


  1. Apply More Patience

Finally, realize that not all plans will bear fruits in a short time. Sometimes, it is all about waiting for the right moment to start your plan. Practice patience by reading about “famous failures” of historical/important figures and discuss your plan with reliable people who can give you guidance.


  1. Create Positive Attribution toward Failure

Positive attribution toward failure means seeing it from a more uplifting perspective, even with the negative feelings. While it is alright to feel disappointed, you can also tell yourself things such as “I will not be defined by failure” and “I can learn something from this failure.” Repeating them can make coping easier.

Failure is not a pleasant thing to experience. However, by learning the coping method, you can turn it into an opportunity to improve yourself.