Psychologist Martin Seligman explained that there are three ways in which our internal beliefs or narratives become damaging: we make them personal, pervasive, and permanent.
Personal: I failed, so I must be a failure.
Pervasive: I failed in this instance, so I’ll probably fail in every instance.
Permanent: I failed once, so I’ll probably fail always.
When something goes wrong, watch how you speak to yourself. Be careful of the words “never” and “always”. A failure is a single instance of particular context and a particular version of your past self – taken positively, each failure makes you a better version of yourself.
It is not what happens that makes life hard, it is the perspective we chose to take on what is happening. We can chose which questions we ask ourself. If I ask myself “Why am I such a loser?”, my brain happily provides a long list of good answers. If I ask myself “What would I change next time?”, my brain engages in a more positive search for answers.
The only true failure is to let one setback stop you completely. You are not your current situation, you are the fullness of the journey that you will complete over your lifetime.
A mountaineer is not a failure when they are at base camp and only a success when at the summit.