Failure is a part of life and we must learn to accept it, says educational psychologist Sandile Radebe. He joins this week’s episode of Sisters Without Shame to share insights on the psychological impact of failure and how to deal with it and move on.
Failure is real and it hurts. It also cuts deep and can separate those who go on to achieve success and those who give up and turn their back, he says. Failure manifests like grief, he believes.
“Just like grief, there is no manual for responding to failure. It depends on the individual. Failing might result in a person experiencing depressive symptoms, where an individual feels as if they want to be in isolation, perhaps due to the fear of the unknown.”
What failure does to young people
Almost a million National Senior Certificate examination candidates are expected to receive their results this week. Some might make it through the next chapter and some might not.
Radebe says that the psychological impact of failure varies from one person to the next.
“There is no umbrella description as to how a person ought to experience failure or how they experience the after-effects of failure, but it is subjective,” he says.
“We need to understand that whenever a person is in a state where they feel like they haven’t accomplished something, or they feel like they have failed at something, they will experience a state of shock.”
Take it easy on your teen
Fear of failure can be a crippling experience at any age, he says. When it comes to teens, the fear of failure can be even more intense due to heightened emotions.
Radebe says that fear of failure in teenagers can lead to a lack of openness to new experiences, a restricted vision of life’s possibilities and reduced hope.
It can lead to a complete refusal to take on challenges in order to avoid failing in the attempt and ultimately to reduced self-confidence and depression.
“Remember, they are still developing and there are a lot of hormonal imbalances which make their reaction to life’s difficulties tougher than it should be,” he says.
“Whatever [negative] experience they have, whether failure or disappointment, will always be amplified by their hormones. This means that their ability to reason or to regulate their thinking capacity is motivated by emotions. They will internalise or define failure based on how they have interpreted failure from an emotional reference.”
Listen to the full interview on Sisters Without Shame
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