We’ve all failed at one time or another. In all my years as a therapist, I’ve seen a lot of failure. In fact, most couples and individuals who seek counseling from me in San Francisco are here because they have failed at something. A failed marriage, lost job, broken relationship – people don’t seek a professional therapist when they are succeeding, they seek help when they feel like they are failing.

We’ve all failed, and it sucks, but it also helps us to take stock of what’s going on in our life and change things up. And it’s not just in relationships. Anyone who has achieved great success has also suffered great failure – Steve Jobs, J.K. Rowling, Thomas Edison, and many more (Click here to see who failed and how). Failing is not the problem, taking on any new task, relationship, goal, dream, etc is bound to have some setbacks. No, failing isn’t the problem at all. Failing is a way for the universe to get us back on track to success.

Fear of failure is what causes the problems. It is when we are afraid to try that we get stuck – in a relationship that doesn’t work anymore, in a job that is going nowhere, in a life that is unfulfilling and depressing. It is so easy to take the path of least resistance, to avoid the pain of failure by not trying, than it is to charge full steam ahead into the unknown and take a risk that might end in humiliation, debt or shame.

We learn more from failure than we do from success. When we fail we have to change the way we see and think about a problem. We have to rearrange our plan and attack our goal from a new perspective. That flexibility is an invaluable trait that those who achieve success have in abundance.

One can be afraid to fail, but still move forward. As humans, we are programmed to be resilient and persistent – that’s how we got to the top of the food chain. We kept striving for more. We fell down and got back up, again and again and again. However, if you are afraid to fail and have little faith in yourself, the odds of you trying to reach your goal become scant. You fail because you don’t try, because you believe you will fail. It’s a classic case of self-fulfilling prophecy.

Setting goals is a great thing, we should all be in the process of trying to reach for more –  whether it be information, growth, education, a career, relationship, etc. Trying to achieve success is something that keeps life interesting and exciting, and failure is bound to be part of the equation. It’s okay, we all fail from time to time, those who achieve success are the ones who kept trying.