Failure. It’s unavoidable and yet everyone tends to handle it differently. Some people seem to thrive despite failure. So why do others constantly feel like a failure? Researchers have been working to discover why you always feel like a failure and we’re going to look at 5 things they’ve found. But first, know this…
You are not a failure.
There are plenty of reasons you might feel like a failure and we’re going to explore 5 of them. Click here for the “bullet point” version.
Table of Contents
Why Do I Feel Like a Failure
Before we can talk about how to get over failure, we’ve got to address why you always feel like a failure. When you understand and have identified your why’s you’ll be able to put the appropriate “how-to” in place.
These 5 reasons why people might constantly feel like failures come from recent research on failure.
Read through the next sections and spend time answering the questions with God, so you’re ready for the next post that’ll cover how to get over failure.
1. Feeling Like a Failure Because of How Standards are Set & Success is Measured
This one is big and we’re all guilty of it.
Our image-driven world makes feeling like failures easy and social media has become one of the worst. We post uber-edited and perfectly posed photos and stories and fall into scrolling holes “liking” other people’s version of perfect. While we’re doing this, we’re measuring ourselves against these “perfect” lives and determining our success off of “likes” and “comments.”
Maybe you’re saying “Hannah, I don’t do that” and if so, I’d challenge you.
Because if we allow the Holy Spirit to shine God’s light into our hearts, we’ll see the degree to which we’re doing this. Even social giant Instagram recognizes this is happening and changed how “likes” are seen.
But don’t get me wrong, social media can be great.
But it’s not just social media.
It’s magazines, movies, tv shows, the people in our Bible studies, at the gym, at church, across the street…
If we’re honest with ourselves and allow God to reveal our heart – in one way or another, we’re all guilty of using other people as the standard for how we should look and how our life should be. And because you and I can’t meet these standards failure begins to settle in and before you know it, you’re wondering why you feel like a failure all the time.
- Who or what are you using as the “success” measuring line in your life?
This could be:
- a friend who’s smaller than you,
- someone you follow on social media who’s always posting photos of her beautiful family’s perfect life,
- the person at work who keeps getting promoted, or
- countless other examples.
When we set our standard for success based on what others do or how others look, it is bound to lead to failure.
Even researchers know we shouldn’t use media to measure our success, they’re just missing the true measuring line –
God and His Word.
- How has setting your success standards based on how other people look, what they have, or what they do, caused you to feel like a failure?
2. You’re a Failure at Everything Because You’re Combining the Wrong Things
Am I the only one who sets a goal to say, avoid sugar, and then because I skip vegetables and have a pint of ice cream for dinner, fall into the failure hole?
That ice cream eating act leads me to think I’ll never achieve my “avoid sugar” goal and so I give up and add “avoid sugar” to my wall of failure trophies. I’m confident I’m not alone in this and there are so many examples of how we do this.
You’re frustrated, throw your hands in the air, and quit. Why’d you even bother trying to do “X?” After all, you fail at everything else. But…
Me, eating ice cream, didn’t have to derail my goal of avoiding sugar and you, doing something similar with anything you were working towards, doesn’t make you a failure.
One mistake, one thing done wrong, shouldn’t be combined with your desired end result, or goal.
Riding a bike for instance. When you decided to learn how to ride a bike, the end result or goal equaled riding to the end of the block without training wheels. Right?
How many times did you mess-up (fail) before that happened?
As a kid, did you think one fall meant you’d never achieve your desired end result and then decide you’d failed, and stop trying? Nope.
Each fall (failure) taught you something and got you one pedal closer to your goal of riding to the end of the block. Now, think about this in relation to your adult goals and desired end results.
- What things (actions) have you done that resulted in you not getting the result(s) you were after?
- Did you learn from these things and keep trying, or give up and label yourself a failure?
- Pick anything you feel you’ve failed at and think about why.
- Did you fail because you quit?
- Because you didn’t really try? Or…
- Because you didn’t learn from your mistakes?
Instead of combining singular actions with your desired end result, you have to look at both separately. The results you’re after are going to include mistakes. You need to learn from them and continue progressing toward the end result.
Think about my example:
If we decide to avoid sugar and have a pint of ice cream, does that mean we’re failures or failed at our goal of avoiding sugar? Nope! It means we need to think about why we had the ice cream and what we can learn from it.
Then, we get back on our “avoid sugar” bike and keep trying.
This applies to exercise, marriage, children, work, weight loss, everything in life.
3. Subjective Truth & Why You Feel Like a Failure
Think about these two statements:
- I failed to eat well today.
- I feel like a failure for not eating well today.
One is objective truth about something you did and the other’s a subjective interpretation about who you are. Do you see the difference this makes when it comes to why you feel like a failure?
This also relates to something called “being” or “doing” thought processes.
The first sentence ties the failure to something you did. Researchers call this a “doing” thought process. The second situation means that you were a failure, and is a “being” thought process. This matters because you can “do” something about the first, you change something about what caused you not to eat well.
Think about the two example sentences above and the last mistakes or things you’ve done wrong.
- If you were describing what happened, what would you say to me?
- Write it down and then figure out if you’re using objective or subjective truth.
- Are your thought processes, your inner dialogue about these things “being” or “doing?”
The big question is why we struggle like this and associate everything bad that happens, every mistake or mess-up, as meaning we’re a failure. The next reason why you might constantly feel like a failure will answer this question.
4. Constantly Feeling Like a Failure? Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and Self-Esteems Role
If your thought processes are “being” thought processes or your words are mostly subjective truths, it might be due to depression, anxiety, stress, or low self-esteem. These four not only have a negative effect on your heart and waistline but also wear away your brains’ ability to think of failures properly.
But depression, anxiety, stress, and self-esteem wear away this protective mechanism and leave you more likely to interpret “things” as proving you’re a failure.
- Do you struggle with depression, anxiety, stress, or low self-esteem?
- If so, are you doing anything to get better?
Getting over any of these things is tough to do on your own. So if you feel like everything you do fails and you’re struggling with any of these four, please find help. Asking for help doesn’t make you a failure.
It means you care about yourself and want to live the life God created you to live.
5. Believing You’re a Failure at Everything Leads to Failure
This last reason why you might feel like a failure stems from all of the other reasons we’ve covered. This is because an ugly feedback loop happens when you begin believing you’re a failure.
If you believe you fail at everything then guess what, you probably will. Belief = failure = less effort = more failure = more belief you’re a failure & repeat…
Researchers found this happens because believing you’re a failure causes you to:
- set lower expectations,
- stop trying as hard, &
- quit early
You literally give up before you even start trying. What’s the point of putting effort into something you’re going to fail at anyway?
- Is your self-talk that you’re a failure?
- Now think about the last thing you failed at.
- Did you try as hard as you could have?
- Quit early?
- Set lower expectations than you would have in the past? or
- Give up because of something you did?
It’s important to stop feeling like a failure when you’re not, and…it may not be easy. This is another thing you might need help with and that is a-okay.
If you’re determined to stop feeling like a failure all the time, at the very least tackle this with God.
I don’t even know how to close this post because my heart is mourning for every woman who’s constantly feeling like a failure.
You are not a failure.
You’re a woman of God, created in His image, and called to do things only you can do.
God has a plan and a purpose for your life and He wants you to place your trust in Him.
But I get it…
- If your weight keeps going up,
- kids are rebelling,
- you’re getting passed over for promotions,
- can’t find a job,
- husbands lost interest or treats you like crud…
It’s easier to believe you’re a failure at everything than it is to believe you’re not.
Feelings of failure are lies from the enemy friend.
God would never, ever, ever tell you you were a failure and He’d never tell you you failed at something. Instead,
Then, He wants to lead, mold, and shape you while you’re walking out whatever He’s asked you to do.
The next two posts are going to cover how to stop feeling like a failure and look at failure in the Psalms (subscribe here so you don’t miss them).
Until then would you pray this prayer whenever you feel like a failure?
“Lord God, thank You for being my God, for never leaving me, and for loving me just as I am. You are kind, merciful, gracious, forgiving, and compassionate. You are my everything. Forgive me for feeling like a failure when I’m not and for always feeling like I fail at everything. Give me the strength to keep trying. Help me love like You do and help me forgive myself instead of feeling like a failure when I make a mistake. I trust You and with Your help, I’m not going to give up. I’m going to press on and do whatever You ask me to. In Your name, Amen.”
*If you need someone to talk to now, in the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Here are some additional posts & podcasts that might bless you...
5 Reasons You May Constantly Feel Like a Failure - Bulletpoints
- Feeling Like a Failure Because of How Standards are Set and Success is Measured
- If we’re honest with ourselves and allow God to reveal our heart – in one way or another, we’re all guilty of using other people as the standard for how we should look and how our life should be.
- You’re a Failure at Everything Because You’re Combining the Wrong Things
- One mistake, one thing done wrong, shouldn’t be combined with your desired end result, or goal.
- Subjective Truth and Why You Feel Like a Failure
- “Being” a failure means that each subsequent mistake or failure further drives home always feeling like you’re a failure.
- Constantly Feeling Like a Failure? Depression, Anxiety, Stress, and Self-Esteems Role
- Depression, anxiety, stress, and self-esteem wear away this protective mechanism and leave you more likely to interpret “things” as proving you’re a failure.
- Believing You’re a Failure at Everything Leads to Failure
- Believing you’re a failure causes you to: set lower expectations, stop trying as hard, and quit early.