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An in Depth Guide to Figuring Out Why You’re Failing



how to figure out why you are failing
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Here’s something we all know about failing, it’s a process with an ending that we all want to avoid. Failure, contrary to popular belief, isn’t just an undesirable ending, It’s also a terrible beginning. It easily metastasizes into guilt, shame, anxiety, self-doubt, and depression; all of which inevitably lead to more failure. But what is the process of failing exactly, and how do you find out how and why you’re engaged in it?

The human mind is evolutionarily attuned to failure since it can equate to the potential for danger. Therefore failure is much more noticeable to us than success. So while you may feel like you are failing in one area of life at any given time, it’s likely that you are also succeeding in some other area. Maybe things aren’t so great in your love life, but you’re doing a great job with your fitness regimen. Maybe your career isn’t where you want it to be, but you’ve cultivated amazing relationships.

So what separates success and failure? Since failing is a process, then it stands to reason that so is succeeding. At a very high level it comes down to one thing: differing patterns of action. A pattern of action that yields undesirable results is a failure. A pattern of action that yields the result you want is successful. Looking at what makes you successful is a great way to figure out how to avoid failure.

There are at least three implications inherent in the sentence: “A pattern of action that gives you the results you want is successful.” Let’s look at them one by one.

  1. A pattern of action that yields the results you want is successful – If succeeding in life were as simple as repeating one successful action over and over, the world would be a much simpler place. As it is, an adaptable pattern of action is necessary to reach your goals. Whenever you are successful it is because you are flexible enough to adapt to the ever changing situations you are engaged in.
  2. A pattern of action that yields the results you want is successful – When you achieve success, it is always because you take action. Success without effort is called luck, and it’s not something one can meaningfully strive for. Working towards something actively is the only way to actually reach it.
  3. A pattern of action that yields the results you want is successful – Taking action is only useful when it is towards a specific goal. This means that a measurable goal of some kind is built into the definition of success. Moreover that goal must be something you want which is of value to you.

“If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost.” – Zig Ziglar

So what does this say about failing and how you can identify why it’s happening? Since we’ve already looked at the elements of success, let’s look at the definition of failure using the same framework:

  1. A pattern of action that yields undesirable results is a failure – Some patterns of action work better than others. When trying to succeed it’s important to recognize when the patterns you find yourself engaging in are not working, and to make changes to those patterns appropriately. Change is the key word here: If you are failing and refusing to make changes, your failure is assured. It is also important to view failing as an opportunity. Any failed strategy can be safely ruled out and learned from if one has the openness and flexibility to change.
  2. A pattern of action that yields undesirable results is a failure – Teddy Roosevelt famously said: “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” Inaction is the most insidious form of failure. Doing nothing breeds feelings of failure just as strongly as working in the wrong direction, but it doesn’t tell you anything about what you could be doing differently. It is also the most surefire way to bring about actual failure since no one ever accidentally stagnates into success.
  3. A pattern of action that yields undesirable results is a failure – Failure to reach a specified goal is disheartening, but as with all things, it can give you information about what to do differently to keep you from failing. However, the failure to specify a specific and theoretically achievable objective is catastrophic. A blurry target can never be hit. If you fail to carefully spell out your goals, then there is no possible way to actually reach them. In that same vein, if your goals are things you don’t actually desire, then even your success in reaching them will fit the definition of failure.

“I have to believe that when things are bad I can change them.” – James J. Braddock

If this sounds deceptively simple than that’s because it is. But it is not only a roadmap away from failure, it’s also the basis of individual character development. Considering the twin definitions of success and failure can give you a deep understanding of what is going wrong whenever you find yourself not progressing towards your goals.

The implications are clear:

  • Set goals that are inspiring and attainable. Aim high, but be sure that whatever goal you have can be broken down into things you can actually accomplish. Focusing on the actions you can take to bring about success keeps you focused on the day and not on the seeming impossibility of your goal.
  • Work hard to bring about the outcomes you want. Do not fall victim to failure by inaction. It’s the most surefire path to regret.  
  • Above all cultivate flexibility. The ability to change is what allows even your failures to breed future success.

In the end, much of our success or failure is dependent upon things not entirely under our control, and no one lives a life unmarred by failure of any kind. We can still, however, strongly contribute to enhancing the likelihood of one over the other. That may make it sound like a nudge is the best you can do, but it’s important to remember that a nudge is the difference between a glass shattered on the floor and one sitting whole on a table.

Life, in its endless complexity and unpredictability, offers no guarantees. Hope arises with the understanding that failure is not something that happens to you, it is something that you either contribute to or combat, as is success. Careful observing your patterns of action will tell you which one you’re doing.

Just as looking to your successes can show you why you’re failing, looking to your failures can tell you how to succeed.

Khemit Bailey is a writer, entrepreneur, and devoted purveyor of the idea that fiction has the power to transform our lives for the better. He loves film in particular and gives free personalized recommendations in his spare time here. Khemit writes about fiction and personal character development at The Character Arc blog, and regularly waxes about those same topics on the FYMP Podcast which he co-hosts.

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The Imbalanced Problem with Work/Life Balance

Balancing is for your checkbook, gymnastics, and nutrition; not for your people’s work/life ratio.



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Balance…it requires an equal distribution of value between two or more subjects to maintain steady composure and equitable proportionality. (more…)

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How to Find the Courage to Start New

Change is scary, but it’s a normal part of life.



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It’s 2023, a new year, new you, right? But how do we start over? How do we make the changes in our lives that we crave so much to see?  (more…)

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Failing is More Important Than Succeeding

Failure is an integral part of life as life is incomplete without failures.



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People often consider failure a stigma.  Society often doesn’t respect the people who failed and avoids and criticizes their actions. Failure is an integral part of life as life is incomplete without failures. Not to have endeavored is worse than failing in life as at some stage of your life you regret not having tried in your life.  (more…)

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5 Indicators of Unresolved Attachment Trauma



Emotional Attachment Trauma

Trauma caused during specific stages of a child’s development, known as attachment trauma, can have lasting effects on a person’s sense of safety, security, predictability, and trust. This type of trauma is often the result of abuse, neglect, or inconsistent care from a primary caregiver.

Individuals who have not fully processed attachment trauma may display similar patterns of behavior and physical or psychological symptoms that negatively impact their adult lives, including the choices they make in relationships and business.

Unfortunately, many people may not even be aware that they are struggling with trauma. Research estimates that 6% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, with a majority of males and females having experienced significant trauma.

Unresolved attachment trauma can significantly impair the overall quality of a person’s life, including their ability to form healthy relationships and make positive choices for themselves. One well-known effect of unhealed attachment trauma is the compulsion to repeat past wounds by unconsciously selecting romantic partners who trigger their developmental trauma.

However, there are other less recognized but equally detrimental signs of unprocessed developmental trauma.


Five possible indications of unresolved attachment trauma are:


1.  Unconscious Sabotage

Self-sabotage is a common pattern among individuals with unprocessed attachment trauma. This cycle often begins with hurting others, which is then followed by hurting oneself. It is also common for those with attachment trauma to have heightened emotional sensitivity, which can trigger this cycle.

This pattern can manifest in lashing out, shutting down, or impulsive behavior that leads to feelings of guilt, shame, and self-loathing.

Many people with attachment trauma are not aware of their wounds and operate on survival mode, unconsciously testing or challenging the emotional investment of those around them, and pushing them away out of self-preservation and fear of abandonment.

This can lead to a pattern of making poor choices for themselves based on impulsivity.


2. Persistent Pain

Chronic pain is a common symptom that can stem from early trauma. Studies have shown a connection between physical conditions such as fibromyalgia, headaches, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, muscle aches, back pain, chest pain, and chronic fatigue with the aftermath of chronic developmental trauma, particularly physical abuse.
Research has found that individuals with insecure attachment styles, such as anxious, avoidant, or disorganized, have a higher incidence of somatic symptoms and a history of physical and emotional abuse in childhood compared to those with a secure attachment style.

3. Behaviors That Block Out Trauma

Trauma blocking practises are used to avoid the pain and memories connected with traumatic events.
Emotional numbing, avoidance, and escape via briefly pleasurable activities that distract from terrible memories or suffering are common examples. Unfortunately, this escape habit stops people from successfully processing and recovering from their trauma.
Furthermore, when the pain resurfaces, more and more diversions are necessary to continue ignoring it. This can be seen in compulsive behaviours such as drug or alcohol addiction, emotional eating, numbing oneself through relationships, workaholism, excessive or dangerous exercise routines, compulsive internet or technology use, or any other compulsive behaviour used to distract yoursef from intrusive thoughts and emotions.
These actions have the potential to prolong a cycle of avoidance and repression, preventing persons from healing and progressing.

4. A strong need for control

It’s understandable that some people may struggle with control issues in their adult lives, especially if they felt helpless or vulnerable during their childhood.
This can happen if someone had an overbearing caregiver who didn’t let them make their own choices, expected too much from them, or didn’t take care of them properly. As adults, they might try to control everything in their life to feel more in control and less anxious or scared. This might be because they didn’t feel like they had control over their life when they were a child.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experiences are different and it’s okay to seek help if you’re struggling with control issues.

5. Psychological Symptoms That Are Not Explained

Individuals with a history of developmental trauma may experience a range of psychological symptoms, including obsessive-compulsive behavior, intense mood swings, irritability, anger, depression, emotional numbing, or severe anxiety.
These symptoms can vary in intensity and may occur intermittently throughout the day. People with this type of trauma may attempt to “distract” themselves from these symptoms by denying or rationalizing them, or may resort to substance abuse or behavioral addictions as coping mechanisms. This can be a maladaptive way of trying to numb their symptoms.

What to do next if you’re suffering from emotional attachment trauma?

Everyone’s experience of healing from trauma is unique. It’s important to be aware of whether you have experienced childhood developmental trauma and how it may be affecting your relationships as an adult. Sometimes, the effects of trauma can be overwhelming and we may try to push them away or avoid them.
If you notice that you’re engaging in these behaviors, it’s important to seek help from a trauma therapist who can support you on your healing journey. Remember, you’re not alone and it’s never too late to start healing.

There are several ways that people can work to overcome emotional attachment trauma:

  1. Therapy: One of the most effective ways to overcome emotional attachment trauma is through therapy. A therapist can help you process your experiences, understand the impact of your trauma on your life, and develop coping strategies to manage symptoms.
  2. Support groups: Joining a support group of people who have had similar experiences can be a great way to find validation, empathy, and a sense of community.
  3. Mindfulness practices: Mindfulness practices such as meditation, pilates, prayer time with God or journaling can help you become more aware of your thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations, and develop a sense of spiritual connection and self-regulation.
  4. Trauma-focused cognitive-behavioral therapy (TF-CBT): This is a type of therapy that is specifically designed to help individuals process and recover from traumatic events.
  5. Building a safety net: Building a support system of people you trust, who are there for you when you need them, can help you feel more secure and safe in your life.

It’s important to remember that healing from emotional attachment trauma is a process and it may take time. It’s also important to find a therapist who is experienced in treating trauma, who you feel comfortable talking with, and who can help you develop a personalized treatment plan.

If you desire to work with me on healing your wounds and unlocking the aspects of you that were never realized so you can achieve more success in your life then head over to and join my weekly LIVE online mentorship calls.
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