With soaring demand from students for mental health services increasing exponentially, it’s important to pull back and analyse the environmental factors that play a pivotal role in setting the context for our emotions when dealing with failure.
- Our meritocratic society.
We live in a world now where we believe that nobody can stop us from reaching the top, and that our full potential is activated by ourselves. This essentially is a meritocratic society. Therefore, we believe that those who are at the top deserve to be by their own efforts and merits, and so by default, those who fail also deserve to me. That means that society and how it runs escalates our self-doubt and negative emotions as we blame ourselves for ‘failing’.
- Social media.
With everyone connected to social media, there’s no better platform that allows us to constantly compare. Whether its comparison with strangers or our peers, we’re offered 24/7 access to compare our lives against the palette of others. What’s worse is when we compare ourselves to those similar to us. Those who are roughly the same age, came from the same place, went to the same school – the more similarities they have to us, the worse we feel when they fare better than us, allowing our failures to be magnified. Social media essentially is a breeding ground for jealousy and comparisons, with our failures amplified when viewing the success of others.
- Failures in the media are glorified.
From Walt Disney’s failures to Oprah’s, they’ve all been plastered in the media along with their current triumphs. Whilst these feel-good messages no doubt inspire hope and aim to inspire a positive message – these glorified failures also mean that the smaller everyday failures everyone experiences get ‘lost’ in the sea of triumphant failure. This concept of ‘failing forward’ is now so prevalent in our society from job interview questions of ‘Tell me about a time you have failed and how you learnt from it.’ to media articles we see so frequently, that those ‘failing stagnantly’ or ‘failing backwards’ may feel even more alone.