Our society in general has a very negative and judgemental view of failure. Failure is synonymous with inadequacy, inferiority, and in general not being good enough. This reasoning is grossly flawed and in fact, without failure there can be no success. If inventors and scientists had given up after their first experience with failure, we never would have been able to reap the benefit of their inventions and discoveries. If the Wright Brothers had given up after their first glider crashed into the ground where would we be? Or if Fredrick Banting had given up after this first attempts to treat diabetes in humans with insulin, the quality of life and longevity of diabetes sufferers would be drastically reduced. The question now is how did these men succeed in spite of their failures? They had the ability to adapt, to learn from their mistakes and change their approach to solve the problem. Furthermore, successful people understand that the need for failure is a powerful learning tool.
In addition to the general negative connotations that are attached to failure, in the case of those struggling with any kind of addiction it is a common perception that their failures stem from a lack of will power. Individuals who suffer from relapses are more often than not, assailed with feelings of guilt and self-loathing furthermore, there is a genuine fear that these relapses are because they lack the willpower to overcome their destructive behaviour. Those seeking and receiving help for their addictions are often told by their counselors that relapses are not only inevitable, but a crucial part of the rehabilitation process and to their overall endeavour.
While researching this week’s topic, I came across an excellent quote by fellow blogger Donald Latumahinia “Failure is the blacksmith’s hammer that tempers the sword of success”. This is brilliant specifically because it implies that after each failure (i.e. the forging or the hammering) the result is a stronger more impenetrable self (the sword). Each time you overcome the urge to feel guilty and blame yourself for your failure and instead, choose to focus on learning from your mistakes, you become stronger as a person. Rehab is not a teliotic journey, there is no end, it is a life’s work and there will be failures. True success lies with how you adapt and deal with these failures. So the next time you think your failure has taken you off your path to recovery, consider instead that failure was always on the path and is an integral part of the journey.
Latumahinia, Donald, April 23, 2011, http://www.lifeoptimizer.org/2011/04/23