Reduce Anxiety And Stress From Failure by… Writing About It!

Reduce Anxiety And Stress From Failure by… Writing About It!

Nobody’s perfect. So failure is inevitable, right?

Making mistakes is actually a good thing because they can teach us to be more resilient, which leads to new ideas and the motivation to become our best.

Failure encourages us to learn more about our weaknesses and can provide us with some valuable opportunities.

Sure failing feels very discouraging . . . It’s a big bummer. But it doesn’t have to escalate into a full-blown fear of the unknown.

When our fear of failure is debilitating, it ruins our chances of achieving success, so it’s crucial that we stand up against the setbacks.

Along with clear goal-setting and a positive mindset, embracing failure is key to unlocking success. 

Just consider Amelia Earhart’s story. When attempting to fly around the equator, the pioneering aviator crashed her plane on takeoff.

Despite the epic fail, Earhart wasn’t discouraged; she pushed on with her flying career. And she eventually achieved no less than six world records, including that of the first solo female pilot to fly across the Atlantic. How awesome is that?!

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When Life Gives You Lemons…

Here comes our favorite hero, Captain Obvious again.

While many people will advise you to focus on the positive when faced with a negative situation, new surprising research actually suggests that if you pay more close attention to the negative details, you are more likely to learn from them, avoid repeating these same mistakes in the future, and learn to do a better job next time! Yeah!

Seriously! Somebody paid these guys to prove that! Just look!

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They have proven, that if if you pay more attention to your mistakes, you are more likely to learn from them and become stronger in those areas.

Where does positivism come then?

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That’s a positive attitude. Believe that you can! Believe that things are going to work out in the end! Try harder!

Write about it!

Brynne DiMenichi, a doctoral candidate from Rutgers University-Newark, together with other researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University, examined the effect of writing about past failures on future task performance in two groups of volunteers.

A test group wrote about their past failures while a control group wrote about a topic not related to themselves.

The researchers used cortisol (stress hormone) levels to provide a physiological readout of the stress experienced by the people in both groups. These levels were comparable across the test and control groups at the start of the study.

DiMenichi and colleagues then measured the performance of the volunteers on a new stressful task and continued to monitor their cortisol levels.

They found that the test group had lower cortisol levels compared to the control group when performing the new challenge.

“We didn’t find that writing itself had a direct relationship on the body’s stress responses,” says DiMenichi.

“Instead, our results suggest that, in a future stressful situation, having previously written about a past failure causes the body’s stress response to look more similar to someone who isn’t exposed to stress at all.”

The researchers also found that volunteers who wrote about a past failure made more careful choices on a new task, and overall performed better than the control group.

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“Together, these findings indicate that writing and thinking critically about a past failure can prepare an individual both physiologically and cognitively for new challenges,” observes DiMenichi.

While everyone experiences setbacks and stress at some point in their lives, this study may provide insight into how one can use these experiences to better perform in future challenges. 

“It provides anyone who wants to utilize this technique in an educational, sports, or even therapeutic setting with clear-cut evidence of expressive writing’s effectiveness,” says DiMenichi. “However, it is difficult to compare laboratory measures of cognitive performance to performance on say, the Olympic track. Future research can examine the effect of writing manipulation on actual athletic performance.”

Therefore, if you want to learn better from your failures and reduce failure rates, open a private diary and write about them!

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