The art of failure: Three steps to a brilliant comeback.

Society is quick to laud success while overlooking the significance of failure. As a result, our noble ideal of self-improvement gets sidetracked as we shift our focus on prizes of recognition, fame or fortune. When we look too far ahead fantasizing about success, we miss opportunities for growth and real wisdom that each failure can give us.

You can drown in a sea of expectations...

Who do I think I am? What should I do? Why am I doing this?

Where should I focus my attention?

Failure questions our mission and purpose. It forces us to fine-tune our plan and re-energize our calling. These two measures can help solve obstacles and drive stronger commitments for success.

Accepting failure creates an openness for change ~ acceptance does not weaken self image.

When feeling defeated ... take a deep breath ... then

Check 3 key ways to prime your comeback.



First, recognize that failure can occur or has occurred. Somewhat obvious; but how often will blame takeover to save ourselves from accepting the truth? Further, by acknowledging failure and reexamining our mission, something amazing happens. A new pattern is established. Rather than making success the mission, we begin to focus on solving the problem. The new paradigm views any probable adverse outcomes as a product from of a set of circumstances rather than our failure. That shift in perspective removes any shock, adrenaline, and uncontrolled reactions associated with failure.

This crucial first step prevents our paralyzation or reluctance to move the project forward because we are prepared and ready to act with the second step when and if the first step fails.


Backup Plan

The second step is always having a Plan B. Having a backup plan keeps the process flowing by thinking of new ideas even before failure occurs. Once you practice how to fail, you understand the second step soon minimizes the stress of the first step for a smooth process leading to success.

Sounds simple, but there is a catch. Learning by failing requires the identity of ego thoughts and control of emotions to a more productive response. In other words, bouncing back from feeling defeated. To learn the subtle workings of the mind traditional yoga practices show hidden characteristics and tendencies that veil reality. That is where the third step comes in.



Reflection is the power acquired by consciousness to take possession of itself as an object. It is the experience of classification or review of properties and values. It goes beyond "to know" by including "to know that one knows." Failure necessitates reflection. It is the point at which all impressions and experiences bind together and fuse into a consciousness of the consequence.

We, being the object of our reflection raise the level of awareness in the domain of reality. It is more than a change of perspective; it is one of a shift in nature coming from a new state of being. The accession or transformation emerges from the experience of failure where success does not.

Although access to preconscious cognitive processes appears as conscious thoughts or "inner speech" it is not directly controlled. We are only the witness or observer after the thought has occurred. Containment of such ideas and the sequence in which they appear brings insight to how our mind processes and helps us work through problems. The advantage of Samkhya Philosophy found in current mindfulness techniques artfully maneuvers the path of failure helping us arrive at success.

In conclusion

Indeed, whether we like it or not, success rarely occurs without the stepping stones of failure.

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

~ Winston Churchill

We prepare ourselves for larger failures down the road by watching our reactions to small intermittent failures that lead the way. That exercises neural networks; creating new pathways to succeed and complete the task. In other words, we fail, accept it, then change. On a larger scale, failures can be devastating such as a failed business or marital relationship because we don't factor other outcomes. As a result, we are entirely unprepared and react with strong uncontrolled emotions.

Along the same line of thinking as the early Indian philosophers, the Stoics practiced negative visualization to eliminate surprise and prevent failure. A famous Stoic, Marcus Aurelius wrote:

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

The Stoics understood that failure teaches you how to succeed if you examine the opportunity for improvement. So, while others take a victory lap and celebrate the winner remember it came at the cost of countless, lonely failures.

For additional information in witnessing the thought process involved in meditation and yoga theory read the Chapter "Yoga Affect Defined" and Section "Samkhya (Cosmology) and Yoga (Psychology)" in my book "Yoga Affect: A Primer for a Beautiful Life."

To learn more about traditional forms of yoga and how to add these methods to your life please visit my website:

Sandra Zuidema is the author of the Yoga Affect Series. Yoga Affect: A Primer for a Beautiful Life and it's companion journal, Yoga Affect: A Guided Journal, both available on To learn more about the series and please visit the website


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square

© 2016 Sandra Zuidema