When I was younger, up until my mid-twenties, I didn’t know the difference between “failure” and “failing.”
Sure, they seem like simple enough words, and, of course, I know they are variations of the same word, but I didn’t truly know what they meant.
But now that I’ve been through some serious struggles, I know.
Failure rings with finality. It’s an announcement, a proclamation.
Failing is an ongoing process. It has no end.
At first glance, it appears that the second word might be the worse of the two.
But many experiences in my life have taught me that it is most definitely not the case.
Option 1 - “I feel like a failure. I am a failure.”
Let’s take this phrase, for example: “I feel like a failure.” Or this one: “I am a failure.”
When you say it like that, the failure becomes part of your identity. It’s all-consuming and final.
And yes, while all feelings are valid, it’s really not helpful to think this way if there are other, better ways of thinking.
When you say that you’re a failure, what you’re saying is that you have accepted a state of mind that doesn’t even need to be accepted.
There are always other options and ways of looking at the world.
The process of converting a dead-end way of thinking into a way of thinking that is much more productive and life-giving is called reframing.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: reframing is a superpower.
Which leads me to my next point.
Option 2 - “I am failing.”
Here’s a perfect example of a good reframe.
Instead of saying, “I am a failure,” you could say, “I am failing.”
It seems like a minor change, but the impact it can have on your body and mind is major.
When you accept that you are in the process of failing, it doesn’t have to mean that you fail all the time. It’s just something happening at one point in time.
And if you are failing in one moment, you could very easily be succeeding in the next moment.
Life is an ongoing thing.
The only constant is change, so there’s no reason to limit yourself with finalities.
Don’t put a label on something that shouldn’t be labeled to begin with.
In Conclusion - Failing is a process you experience. It isn’t final.
No one likes to feel like a failure. Or fail, period.
But, the reality of it all is that failure is a normal part of life. It’s the best way to learn, and we all know it.
If you and I didn’t get knocked down, we would have no context for the feeling of getting back up.
And the most important part of failure is how you process what it means to you.
If you say, “I am a failure,” then that’s it. There’s nowhere to go from there.
But if you say, “I just happen to be failing right now,” the feeling is totally different. The meaning is totally different.
You and I, we’re going to be failing at various times in our lives.
But remember, that just means that we’re also going to be learning and growing.
If you look at the failing process instead of the failure finality, you’ll never make failure your identity.