Feeling Like A Failure

sad woman in cafe illustrating feeling like a faliure

Feeling Like A Failure

When You Are Feeling Like A Failure

Dealing with those unwanted thoughts of feeling like a failure


I often see business owners, and many non-business owners, muse about how they are feeling like a failure; that they haven’t done enough in life. Perhaps their business isn’t where they thought it should be. Perhaps they are single, once again, and wondering when they’ll ever get things together.  Clients question their paths, wonder what held them back from reaching their full potential and express disappointment in not being sorted enough. While many of us are happy enough to admit that we could be more organised, more productive, maybe even more driven, there are some who really struggle with guilt about their lack of progress so far.

If this resonates with you then I’d like to reassure you that these thoughts are normal. Most of us have thoughts that don’t serve us, and they can be a pain to deal with.

Let’s imagine, for a moment, a future where you may will never feel as though you have things sorted. Let’s imagine that you will always feel that there is more you need to achieve. Would it be a relief to realise that there is never a point when you say, that’s it? Can you see that not reaching some vague goal is not the problem here, but the guilt and stress that accompanies that pressure? Would you be able to breathe and stop pushing so hard? Would you pause and realise that achievement might not be the goal, and that dealing with these thoughts may be more valuable?

Dealing with these unwanted thoughts of feeling like a failure


unwanted thoughtsIf you’re bothered by thoughts of lack of achievement, there are a number of ways you can approach them. The first is the path of mindfulness. Just start to notice that these are just thoughts and you can step back from them and let them pass. I particularly like the analogy of watching a sushi conveyor belt and deciding to leave that particular dish on the belt. It may come around again (and it no doubt will), but you can just let it pass by. Other lovely visual examples include thinking of the thought as a balloon, and you can imagine yourself just letting it go. Or imagine it as a car coming towards you on a bridge. You can see the headlights, but you can steo back and let it pass. Watch it disappear into the distance. You can choose one of these visual tools every time these thought crop up. Play with them and noticed which works best for you.

A more left-brained approach is to build a portfolio evidence to the contrary. This means compiling a list of evidence as to why you are such a sorted and successful person, even if you haven’t achieved everything on your list yet. (If you are a parent with young children you automatically get double points here). Or, try gathering together a menu of your achievements in life, and everything you have to show for your efforts. Keep this handy to refer to when you need it.

It’s more likely that these thoughts will come faster and thicker when something is missing in your life. As a Human Givens therapist, I work with what we call the Human Needs, and there are nine of them. They include a sense of achievement, meaning and purpose, status, privacy, connection, community and a sense of control. If one of these is missing, or out of balance, we are more likely to feel wobbly and prone to unwanted thoughts like these.

Making a plan for success

What if there is a grain of truth in these thoughts? What if you really do have goals you haven’t yet reached? The simple answer is to make a plan to do just that, breaking it down, step by step. Then take the next step. Start setting bigger sales goals. Book that plane ticket to New Zealand. Buy a new notebook and start the novel. Download the dating app and get comfortable with it. Once you are taking action, those thoughts will start to dwindle.

If you’d like help with unwanted thoughts of any kind, or want to look at setting yourself achievable goals, you can book a chat with me here.