To be human is to fail, but just knowing this to be true doesn’t necessarily make bouncing back from failure any easier— especially when you feel that you’ve blown it big time. Certain life events and situations can often be associated with this sense of having majorly failed:

• a divorce or unhappy marriage;
• the loss of a job and prolonged unemployment;
grief, often involving a sense of guilt or failure, over the traumatic
loss of someone you love or are responsible for (such as in the
context of war or a first responder situation);
• the loss of custody of one’s children for whatever the reason;
• or, the inability to kick a self-destructive habit that has ended
relationships, cost you jobs and left you bankrupt.

Failures as Building Blocks for Self-Growth

But even in the wake of what seems like a monumental failure, there is an opportunity: the chance to learn from failure and utilize it as an opportunity for self-improvement. On that note, here are some tips and considerations that can help you turn failures into building blocks for self-growth:

1. Consider how failure may be serving as a wake-up call, or a way to correct your course. We all can find ourselves lost and on the wrong path in life, or asleep at the wheel, living as if on auto-pilot and indulging in behaviors that go unchallenged even when they’re not good for us. We can become so accustomed to our routines that we stop living intentionally with a sense of purpose or passion for life; and we can often unconsciously make peace with the fact that we’re not really happy, because we’d rather not rock the boat. But big failures rock the boat, forcing us to wake up and reconsider how we’re living. That wake-up call can be a catalyst for re-evaluating the person we want to be and what we want out of life.

2. Welcome the greater self-awareness that can come from the negative consequences of a failure. The negative consequences of failing can be very painful and difficult. But they also can trigger greater awareness of our responsibility and the impact of our thoughts and behaviors. That greater awareness itself is self-growth, and can precede and foster still more positive inner core change.

3. Be okay with asking for help, now that failure has forced you to be humble. One of the silver linings of failure is that it can make you humble, by bringing you to your knees. Humility is a virtue, so don’t be afraid to exercise it by asking for help when you need help. With that humility and willingness to ask for help, you open yourself up to the possibility of still more positive transformation. I see this regularly in patients who come into treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. (Learn more about addiction treatment here: One of the hardest things to do is to ask for help and go to rehab, but that act of humility is the necessary gateway to recovery.

4. Remind yourself that by striving and learning to bounce back from failure, you are becoming more resilient. Adversity and failure are the raw material for resilience. The saying, “Through adversity comes growth,” is true. Without failure, there is no self-growth. In this sense, failure is indispensable in the quest to become a better, happier, and more fulfilled you.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Beau Nelson heads the Clinical Services department at FHE Health, a nationally recognized behavioral health provider treating addiction and mental health conditions. Learn more about FHE Health’s treatment programs at