16 Experts Share Their #1 Most Effective Way To Overcome Failure

Failure isn't an end. It's how you learn and grow.

woman with disappointed look Okrasiuk / Shutterstock

Baseball is a sport built on a foundation of failure. Even the greatest hitters in the game's history failed seven out of 10 times at the plate. 

It's not just baseball, either. Football legend Tom Brady won more NFL games than any quarterback in history — but he also holds the record for most career interceptions in the playoffs.

Michael Jordan, considered by many to be the greatest basketball player in history, famously was relegated to the junior varsity team during his sophomore year of high school.


Oprah Winfrey chose to walk away from a stalled career as a local TV news anchor. Steve Jobs was once maneuvered out of power at Apple. Orville and Wilbur Wright tested more than 200 wing and airfoil models before they landed on the design that helped them conduct the first human flight.

The point is, failure is for the famous as well as the anonymous. It's good that Oprah found her true calling as a talk show host; that Steve Jobs triumphantly returned to Apple more inspired than ever; and that the Wright brothers didn't give up at 199 imperfect wing designs.

For them, and for us, failure is a feature — not a flaw.


Without failure, how would we appreciate success?

The question isn't why we failed, but this: How can we make the most of failure?

Before you can learn the lessons failure teaches, though, you have to summon the resilience to overcome it.

With that goal in mind, we asked a group of YourTango Experts to share their top tips for how to overcome failure. Their answers are below.

RELATED: Four Of The Cruelest Things That Can Be Done To Super-Sensitive People

Here is the best way to overcome failure, according to 16 experts:

1. Do not let it define you

Besides the obvious of learning from it, reframe the "failure" as temporary, not so personal — not a definition of who you are.


Happy high achievers become experts at seeing setbacks as impermanent and not so personal as to define who they are.

This allows them to access their strengths from previous wins, connect to what matters most in the long run/big picture, and grow.

"Failure" is just another piece of data on the path to figuring out what works for you.

- Cynthia Ackrill, MD, PCC 

RELATED: 7 Unsexy Things All Smart Couples Do To Divorce-Proof Their Marriages

2. Don't suppress your feelings about it

A feeling of shame often prevents us from doing one of the most important healing acts we can do. It is important to share with a loved one, trusted friend or therapist so that they can give you instruction or feedback. 


Take a deep breath, and do something positive such as meditating or exercising. Give to someone else. Learn from what you consider your mistake and move on.

- Dr. Dorree Lynn, psychotherapist

3. Shift your perspective

I believe the best way to overcome failure is to shift perspective and beliefs about failing.

Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I just have found 10,000 ways that have not worked.”

A perspective shift allows us to view failure differently. We often perceive failure as personal, as "I am a failure" instead of "I have failed at this attempt."

Distorted thoughts then can follow with a trigger to remember all the other times we have failed in the past.


Changing our perspective on failure allows us to continue to grow, change and achieve. The feelings of sadness and disappointment associated with failure need to be acknowledged, processed, worked through, and released.

Then get back up and try again.

- Dr. Susan Pazak, clinical psychologist and life coach

RELATED: Experts Reveal The Most Common Childhood Complaint They Hear In Therapy

4. Deny that failure exists

The number one way to overcome failure is to understand that there is no such thing as failure. The word FAIL is an acronym that stands for Freedom to Assess Intended Learning.

- Lizabeth McGough-Olszewski, non-profit founder and speaker


5. Remember that your value is not attached to success or failure

Remind yourself that this failure does not define you.

None of your failures nor successes define you — they may hold defining moments and you are much more dynamic and complex than to be pinning your value to this one event.

- Angela Bixby, founder, Energy Intuit

6. Laugh at failure

After you have been sad, then angry, and then grieved, I suggest to my patients, family, and friends that they laugh.

Yes, laugh, and by laughing release their frustrations and self-doubt and celebrate their desire to push for something they believed in.

- Patricia O'Gorman, psychologist, life coach, best-selling author


RELATED: How To Leverage Your Failures And Turn It Into Success

7. Accept a period of trial and error

The thing about failure is, it is an inevitable stop on the way to success.

Think about a small child. We could sit the child down and explain how walking works. Show diagrams, and pictures, endlessly discuss balance and gravity … but that’s not how the child will learn to walk.

They will fall, again and again, and again.

Our failures create the stairs that lead to success. No one in history set out to do something amazing and then just did it.

There was endless trial and error. Failure is not a destination. It is a stepping stone.

- Erika Jordan, love coach, NLP


RELATED: 10 Relationship Experts Reveal The 'Best' Marriage Advice That's Actually Incredibly Dangerous

8. Cultivate a growth mindset

The most effective way to overcome failure is to develop a growth mindset.

This involves changing the perception of failure from a negative, discouraging experience to an opportunity to learn and grow. When viewed this way, mistakes are no longer as destructive and instead can serve as important learning experiences.

Acknowledging the valuable lessons and focusing on areas for improvement can help individuals recover more quickly from their missteps and ultimately lead to greater success in the future.

Clare Waismann, M-RAS/ SUDCC II


9. Learn the lesson

To transcend failure, ask yourself "what's the most important lesson I can learn from it and how will I apply it in the future?"

- Ruth Schimel, career and life management consultant, author

RELATED: Relationship Experts Reveal The #1 Complaint They Hear From Unhappy Wives In Therapy

10. Don't give up

A change of mindset is needed. I view "failure" as happening in only one instance — when we do not succeed at something and then give up, never to try things like that again.

What many people think of as failure can be a learning experience, a step up to a bigger success than we originally planned.

Many, if not all, successful people have "failed." But they went on to create something extraordinary.


- TJ Price, psychologist

11. Don't be afraid to fail

The most effective way to overcome failure is to first ensure that you actually failed.

We all buy into our interpretations, judgments, and mental stories. But when you treat those things like factual predictors of success, you may convince yourself that you've failed before really applying yourself.

So rather than failing ... you're fearing failure.

To overcome this self-sabotage type of failure, notice when you're stuck in your head and then bravely and creatively pursue what matters to you.

Amanda Savage Brown, Ph.D., LCSW

RELATED: 25 Experts Explain What Choices Make A Marriage Actually Work Long-Term


12. Use the experience to avoid future error

Recognize that failure is part of the learning process. Look at what didn't work and try again.

- Susan Kulakowski, YourTango Expert

13. Never stop creating

Change your mindset about it. If you failed at something, that means you tried at something.

Trying means you are being an active creator of your life. Take the information from the failures and keep trying, keep creating.

That is how we cultivate a fulfilling life.


- Suzanne Manser, Ph.D., psychologist

14. Come back stronger and smarter

Overcome or come back? It's a perception, a mindset.

When you stop perceiving "failure" as something to overcome, but rather something to learn and grow from, you see it as an opportunity.

And whenever you begin your next effort with gratitude for what you have gained, acknowledging the people, things, and lessons — even the difficult ones — you are already writing your comeback story. We all fall down in life, so learn to fall forward.

- Ann Papayoti, CPC, life and relationship coach

RELATED: 25 Experts Explain What Choices Make A Marriage Actually Work Long-Term

15. Embrace setbacks and stay brave

The most effective way to overcome failure is to embrace failure.


Accept that perfection doesn’t exist and that screwing up is part of the human condition. Expect to make mistakes and fail fast.

No one stays down forever. Use that time to dig deep, take the lessons, and find the unexpected gifts that failure brings. Summon the courage to keep going, and live life fully — even through the low times.

Success is even sweeter on the way up.

- Lisa Petsinis, career, and life coach

16. Neither blame nor judge yourself

The best way to overcome failure is to remember that you are not your failures — they don’t define you.

All our life experiences contribute to our growth and evolution. The most painful ones are often the most valuable.


You didn’t get that job you really wanted? Acknowledge the disappointment but know that there is still a good job waiting for you to find it.

Have a trusted professional review your resume or do some practice interviews with you.

There are learning opportunities in every so-called failure. When we use those instead of blaming and judging ourselves, we succeed.

- Dona Murphy, Tarot reader, and coach

RELATED: 10 Uncomfortable Signs You're Succeeding At Life — Even If It Doesn't Feel Like It

Carter Gaddis is the senior editor for experts and wellness with YourTango.