How to Escape a Failure Spiral

shutterstock_177003773We all have days where bad shizz goes down, where negative thought patterns get the best of us, where we can become convinced that no matter what we do, nothing good can come of what’s coming next.

I had one of those days this week. Yes, it’s true, even those of us in the personal development space are not immune.

I also get clients coming in the door to my coaching practice all the time who have been in that place for weeks or months– and sometimes, sadly, years.

I see so much of this that I’ve coined a term to refer to the pattern. I call it the dreaded “failure spiral.”

And I’ve got a few strong practices for dealing with a failure spiral that work very quickly if applied well.

If you find yourself in a place where you think you’re a failure, where nothing good is coming to you, and where nothing is ever going to change, here’s the exit route.

Read on.

1) Don’t avoid the worst case scenario.

This may sound counterintuitive, but I often suggest that my clients go deep into their fears– as deep as possible.

Why? Because avoidance allows the panic to continue.

So ask yourself, if the worst case scenario came to pass, then what?

If you lost your job, what would you do?

If you couldn’t pay your rent, what would you do?

If you got divorced, then what?

It’s important to note that the point here is not to spin out into further drama.

The point is to start thinking about the practical solutions to what would come next in the event that you found yourself at the bottom of your present circumstances.

Human beings are remarkably resilient.

What most of us find is that if our worst case scenarios came to pass, we’d actually have ways of coping and getting through them.

Sure, those strategies might not be ideal– asking your family for money to pay your rent, taking a part-time job to cover your expenses if you got laid off, or entering the dating world again at 50 might not be your favorite things to think about.

However, each of those strategies would keep you moving forward. You’d find a way. You know you would.

The worst case scenario is often not as bad as we think it might be. Many of us have actually lived through the scenario that others of us think every day would kill us.

Go deep into the worst case scenario and you might find solutions you didn’t know existed.

And you also might find that the worst case isn’t quite as bad as you’ve imagined after all.

2) Reach out and connect with someone who supports you unconditionally.

One of the dominant features of failure spirals is that we often feel completely alone. A quick way to remedy this is to reach out to someone who gets you, and who can offer unconditional support.

This week, I adopted this exact strategy on a really bad day.

I sent a text to a fellow entrepreneur that was basically along the lines of “I’ll never figure this out. I’m exhausted by this problem. I’m beginning to think it’s never going to change.”

Almost immediately, she got on the phone with me, and said the following: “You’re going to figure it out. You always do. And if new strategies are in order, we’ll figure those out too.”

I felt instantly better.

Sometimes, a quick pep talk from a friend is all you need to escape the failure spiral.

3) Take care of yourself.

Lastly, it’s often the case that failure spirals happen when we’re run down, not in good health, or overwhelmed.

This week, mine happened after getting off a plane from the West Coast from a trip where I slept roughly 3 hours a night for 5 days straight, if I was lucky.

Once I was able to power down and get a full night’s sleep, things seemed brighter, more open, more possible than the day before.

For some of us, a long run can help. For others, we just need a good nourishing meal (trust me, blood sugar can trigger panic as easily as actual crisis).

When you find yourself in a failure spiral, ask yourself: what do I need to do for myself right now to feel better?

And then, DO THAT.

By applying these strategies, even the most powerful failure spiral can often be eased.

Now, it’s your turn. In the comments below, tell me: what can you do today to shift your thought patterns toward success and away from failure?

Here’s wishing you a wildly positive and successful week.

All the best,

Elizabeth

2 thoughts on “How to Escape a Failure Spiral

  1. Great article, Elizabeth! I can relate and have found myself in failure spirals before. All of your tips are helpful but I’ve found the first one to be especially helpful. I’m in the middle of a transition around my business right now and it’s been really clarifying for me to ask myself “yeah, but what if that does happen?” The answer often isn’t as bad as it seems. And once I acknowledge it, I can see the way out whereas when hiding behind the veil of failure, it seems bigger, scarier. Thanks Elizabeth!

  2. Great post! I actually made a list of things that made me feel better at one point, because it was hard to think of them in the “heat of the moment,” so to speak.

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