No Failure No Success

No failure, no success – why learning to accept failure as a teach tool can help you become your best self.

Jonathan Arenburg
Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan is a mental health blogger, published author, and speaker. He has appeared in numerous newspapers and has been a guest on many podcasts.

As a personal rule of thumb, I like to set goals and do my best to achieve them. I, like many of you, don’t see them all into reality. And you know what? That’s okay.

Or at least it is nowadays. But this wasn’t always the case. In fact, I had a terrible reaction to it. If I could compare it to someone who has a severe allergic reaction to a sting, let’s say, it would be that intense. “I am a failure.” I would continuously say to myself.

While I obviously didn’t go into anaphylactic shock, my reaction could be just as intense. Anger? Boy, would I get after myself. So much so, I would say it was irrational. “I hate myself” was a phrase I repeated on the hour, daily.

My advice to anyone saying these things is to stop. As you may or may not know, saying such one-liners will become you – you will become them.

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Over the years, I have often asked myself, “What’s causing me to react this way?” I thought if I could answer this question, then I could fix it somehow. What I have concluded is this: if one grows up all their lives going to school in a system that tells you “You can’t do it,” you start to believe it. Or like I said early, you become your thoughts.

While it’s true that I became the product of what the people around me communicated, I also learned that we are not made of stone. Moreover, we don’t have to end up being the narrative they hammered into us.

So then, how do we one redefine ourselves? Well, at its core, we need to do the opposite. Always feeling like a failure, for example? Slowly work in doing these things:

  • Make a list of all your accomplishments. Do this when you are not in a failure mindset. You now have a base for telling yourself the truth. Especially helpful when you’re being hard on yourself. Firstly, understand that accomplishments can be small but mighty. So, be it video games or snowboarding, if you love doing them, you’re succeeding. When you feel like a failure, dig out your list and read it to yourself. You’ll feel the opposite of a failure.
  • Recognize the voice in your head that says “I’m gonna fail’ whenever you try something new. Find yourself saying this to yourself? When you hear it, be contrary and do a new task anyway.
  • Ask yourself “What have I learned from my attempt?” Sure, it may not have gone as planned, but what’s the takeaway? In every downfall, there is something positive; you only need to look
  • Avoid the “yeah buts.” Some of us, myself included, can often find the silver lining in a botched attempt, only to have the words yeah but fall out of our faces. But why is saying “yeah but” so dangerous to our growth? Well, take this example and think on it: “Yes, I failed at learning to dance but I at least I made a friend.” Yeah but, I spent sooo much money.” See what happened there? You went from seeing that you made a positive connection and right back down the negativity rabbit hole.
  • Absorb the learning curve and move on to a new adventure. Once we have a so called “failed attempt” out of the way, the world once again becomes our classroom – so, get on it.

Chapter One

Monster A Precursor For Illness

it’s difficult to say when my dance with the mental-illness devil began. I think back to being around four years old, when I had this thing about holding the doors open for people. It was almost like a contest with myself to see how much I could do it and how helpful I could be. “I will, I will!” But now I’m wondering if I was opening the door to something terrible, dark and unseen, something that would almost destroy my life – and certainly change it forever.

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And it was invisible. I’m sure that had I been able to see it, I would have slammed the door shut, even at four years old. If it had claws, a long scaly tail, terrible teeth, angry eyes, mouth breathing stinking fire…yes, I like to think that even at that tender age, my instinct would have been to stop it coming in.

The Road To Mental Wellness – Sounds like a Journey you would like to take?

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Nowadays, I have given myself permission to be kinder to the human I am. We need to be. Because if we are anything, we are very susceptible to errors. And thank the gods we are, because human’s mistakes early on, got us to where we are today.

So, give that some thought. You are not just you; you are also a member of a species that F*&^ks up. Therefore, you’re not unique in this trial-and-error game of life.

Finally, accomplishments are sweeter when you fail. If it were easy, how much would you value when you reach your end goal? My feeling is, you would have no reference (failures) to assign value to success you have.

So, get out there, stumble and fall while learning to dance, break things as you learn to fix them, but must importantly, fix your mindset. You will live a happier life. And remember: no failure, no success!

In crisis? Go to Crisis Services Canada

No Failure, no Success

Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Arenburg is a mental health blogger, S speaker, writer, and published author; He is also the host of the mental wellness podcast, #thewellnesstalksHe has also appeared in the i'Mpossible's Lemonade Stand III. He has also been a contributing writer for Mental health talk, a column in his local paper. In addition, he has also written for the mental health advocacy organization; Sick Not Weak.Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health-related podcasts Including: A New Dawn, The Depression Files, Books and Authors, and Men Are Nuts. Since being put off work because of PTSD, Jonathan has dedicated his time to his mental wellness journey while helping others along the way.Educated as an addictions' counsellor, he has dedicated most of his professional life of eighteen years, working with those who have intellectual disabilities, behavioural challenges, and mental illness.He has also spent fifteen years in the volunteer fire service helping his community.His new book (2021), “The Road To Mental Wellness,” goes into detail about his life-long battle with depression, anxiety and more recently, PTSD. In it, he hopes to provide insight on how mental illness cultivates over a lifetime and, if not recognized and treated, how it impacts the entirety of one's life; right from childhood into the adult years. Jonathan lives with his two children in Nova Scotia, Canada.

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