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Personalization of Failure

The Personalization of Failure and why we should think differently.

Why do we personalize failure? Is it because we believe our failure is a reflection of ourselves as a person, our overzealous need to please, we fear rejection, or all of these things and more. I believe it is all of these things and more.  

Let’s face it, failure is an inevitable part of life, yet many of us struggle with failure. We often internalize failure and attribute it to our own inadequacies or limitations. The tendency to over-personalize failure can be detrimental to our mental health and hinder our personal growth. By shifting our perspective and embracing feedback, we can transform failure into a powerful tool for learning and growth. Let’s explore the importance of eliminating personalization and look at how feedback plays a pivotal role in this process.

Personalizing failures means we associate failure with our self-esteem, self-worth, or identity. When we fail at something, it is common to think, ‘I am a failure” rather than “I did not do well with this task.” The negative self-talk can lead to a host of issues, including lowered self-esteem, anxiety, and avoidance of future challenges.

Societal pressures and perfectionism support the personalization of failure. Our world celebrates success and stigmatizes failure. This creates an environment where admitting mistakes equates to a personal affront. So in turn, we internalize failure and we believe it defines us as individuals.

Feedback is a powerful antidote to the personalization of failure. Feedback provides an objective view of our performance, helping us to separate our actions from our identity. Instead of seeing failure as a reflection of our worth, we can see it as an opportunity to grow as a person, student, professional, etc.

Feedback is crucial because it:

  • Provides an Objective Assessment: Feedback provides an impartial evaluation of our performance while highlighting specific areas of improvement. This allows us to focus on actions rather than self-criticism.

  • Creates Learning Opportunities: Constructive feedback provides insights and suggestions for improvement. By encouraging self-reflection and self-improvement, we grow as people and professionals.

  • Builds resilience: Accepting feedback gracefully can build resilience. We learn to bounce back from setbacks that will help us adapt to future situations and face challenges with energy and confidence.

  • Enhances self-awareness: Feedback helps us understand our strengths and weaknesses better. It encourages self-reflection and self-improvement that promotes growth.


To eliminate the personalization of feedback we can start by changing our mindset. Shifting from a fixed mindset that limits our thinking to a growth mindset that allows us to learn from our mistakes is a great start. Failure is not a reflection of your worth, but your first step toward improvement. So seek feedback from peers, coaches, teachers, and leaders in your life,r and be open to the criticism that will help you to become better.

If we seek to focus on our actions when receiving feedback, we can separate our identity from our actions. Essentially, our choices and actions do not define us as individuals. We should also celebrate our positive progress no matter how small it may seem. Achieving even the most minor goals should be looked at positively. We must recognize that out positive growth takes time and effort.

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