You Are Not a Failure: 7 Ways to Pick Yourself Back Up

you are not a failure

We all struggle and experience failure. All of us. No matter how good someone looks on the outside, how perfect their life appears, they carry around their own self-doubts, their secrets or pain. Your therapist struggles, your pastor struggles, the strong and beautiful woman you see each morning as you drop your kids off to school, she struggles. It is a simple truth of life.

And maybe it is also true that some of us struggle more than others – or work harder just to show up and do this thing called life. Joyfully. With purpose. Without falling apart.

But struggle does not mean we are a failure. Even failing at something does not mean we are a failure. Like having cancer in your body does not mean you are cancer or losing a child does not mean you are no longer a mother.

Going bankrupt, failing an important exam, walking away from an abusive marriage. Living with depression or a child in jail, knowing you are socially awkward, needing help to manage life.

Failure, pain, and struggle are not your identity. They are simply part of your story. Not the fullness of it. 

And though you fall, you are not a failure. 


I asked my psychologist if he thinks I am normal because I have to work so darn hard to keep my mind and body healthy and whole. He hesitated before answering. I am normal in that we all struggle but perhaps, he suggested, I’m abnormal in the sense that not everyone cares about growth or questioning. Refusing to numb.

I want to live fully awake and aware, even in this small, slow, simple life of mine. I want to help build a kinder world by taking responsibility for my 3 feet of influence. I want to wrestle against messages that devalue the worth of a person based on economic status, their ability to perform, or how much space they take up in the world.

My struggle is part of my gifting, you know, in the way it pushes me to challenge and question. To love fiercely and defend the underdog. It does not permit me to turn a blind eye to injustice or suffering. It allows me to live with deeper compassion than I might otherwise. Can you see the gifts in your struggle?

I share some of my story of anxiety, depression, and feeling never good enough and how I changed my view on failure in an interview with the crew of The Other F Word Podcast if you’d like to listen in. I always pick myself back up.

I want you to step out from under the shame that keeps you quiet and hidden. That tells you struggle is all there is for you. I want you to understand that you matter and YOU need to do the work to pick yourself back up. Falling is not the problem. Staying down in the muck is.


1. Find a Safe Space To Be Heard. 

I am a big fan of meeting with a psychologist but for you the right choice might be an Al Anon meeting, spiritual or grief counseling, telling the truth to your best friend, getting one on one support for mind-body health (many women who work with me also work with therapists and medical doctors) or even joining an online community like my Live on Purpose Group. If the first and second tries don’t feel right – try again. We need community. We need to tell the truth about how we are feeling and be heard.

2. Practice Noticing Your Wins.

A simple but powerful exercise I practice each night is the 3/2/1 exercise. Give it two weeks and notice the shift it can make in the way you feel about yourself. Before sleep, as you lay in bed, take a few deep, slow breaths, noticing the rise and fall of your lower belly. Ask yourself: what are 3 things I am grateful for today? What are 2 things I did well today (this part is hard for so many women and I encourage you to take the time needed to identify your “wins”)? What is 1 thing I would do differently next time? This last step is about growth not criticism.

3. Take The Long View. 

One bout of failure or season of struggle does not determine your entire future any more than one sunshiny day does. Baby steps with consistency matter. Slow & Steady is perfectly acceptable. We are all slowly becoming – you don’t have to join the rat race. Each day, many times each day if necessary, remind yourself of who and how you choose to be and then identify one healthy step you can take to move you forward. All you need today is one.

4. Challenge the Voice of Your Inner Critic.

You do not have to listen helplessly as that inner critic of yours rips you to shreds. Not everything you hear is true or helpful. Talk back. Stand up for yourself like you’d stand up for your best friend. So what if there is some truth mingled in with the lies – remember that we are all imperfect, we have all failed in some ways – that does not mean you have to sit there and receive a beating. Stop letting hypothetical stories play out in your brain – you have the power to control your thoughts. You can learn to shift your thoughts and break the cycle of damaging behavior that is borne of those thoughts (getting help to learn this can be life-changing).

5. Choose a Mantra or Verse For the Year.

I love to have a guiding message for my year. Whenever stress or fear or a pressure to hustle or perform show up I remind myself of my “mantra” for the year and this offers a calming release valve. My message for this year is “stop trying so hard; just enjoy yourself.” Let me know yours!

6. Unsubscribe From Unhealthy Messages. 

What comes in through our eyes and ears infiltrates our soul. Ruthlessly unsubscribe from messages that consistently make you feel less than or fill you with fear. This might include media, books, or even toxic people you spend time with that consistently tear you down. I don’t think ditching people is the immediate go-to response (I want to offer grace as freely as I’ve received it) but if you have tried to steer the conversation to a healthier place or to speak up for your needs to no avail, set the boundaries in place that will permit you to heal and live with purpose, health and joy.

7. Embrace Your limitations.

We are all messy, imperfect people. Some of us have health issues to contend with or other difficult circumstances in our life that are part of our honest reality at the moment. We have personality quirks, we carry baggage from our pasts, we are all works in progress. Making peace with, or embracing our limitations does not mean complacency or disengaging. But it might mean surrender to what is in the moment. Some of our limitations might be things we work at overcoming while others are simply out of our control. Making peace with this can go a long way to helping us live with peace and joy even in the middle of the storm.

I no longer actually think of “failure” as a dirty word. I am, we all are, a mixed bag of strength and struggle; this is part of our incredible story as imperfect but beautiful created beings.

Though you fall, you are not a failure. Pick yourself back up.

Krista xo

*the astronaut art was made by my talented daughter, Katia Davi-Digui

If you struggle with feelings of failure, you may like (referral links) The Gifts of Imperfection or Failing Forward.

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11 comments on “You Are Not a Failure: 7 Ways to Pick Yourself Back Up

  1. Number 5 for me!
    My mantra at this time is evaluate and declutter. I’ve sold my fish tank, which I loved, but felt like it was time to let go of it. I’ve stopped making kombucha- again love it, but was tired of making it. Met a new lady, but negativity oozed from her….I can’t and won’t subject myself to that kind of negative energy.

  2. Hi Krista! Thanks for this post! Social media is bringing me down, but it is the only way I stay in contact with some friends and extended family. I wish I could just not be on Facebook at all, but I’m worried if I close my account it will be impossible to stay in contact with people I’ve met online. What would you do? Thanks so much for sharing from the heart. Your posts make a big difference for me!

    • Hi Kathryn, while I have gone off FB completely in the past, that is not my preference these days. I just unfollow people who stress me out or whose messages do more tearing down than lifting up. I rarely see anything negative in my feed these days. Also, I do think some unplugged days are good for the soul. I am grateful to know that my posts matter to you:)

  3. Warning: printf(): Too few arguments in /home/customer/www/ on line 87

    Great article. Insightful. for being such a young woman. Life is full of twists and turns. Joys and sorrows. My journey has surprised me quite frankly. I thought I chose good, not bad. I thought I would feel pride, not humiliation. I am still experiencing feelings of anger and anxiety. On paper we ( hubby and me) look like we got the world by the tail but we share deep disappointments about how screwed up 2 of our 3 children are. Please tell me that it’s not too late for them to turn it around, please give me a ray of sunshine to shine on this weary tired heart. I try to look for small victories. I suppose that is the best way to handle it right now.

    • Hi Brester, I am truly sorry to hear about your pain. I don’t think I believe it is ever too late for any of us. I don’t think it is helpful to deny our hurts but I believe in reconciliation, owning our mistakes, and choosing to move forward. I hope you are able to love and support your children and make amends where needed. xo

  4. I needed to read this. Thank you for writing and sharing it. I havent been managing to pick myself up for well over a year now. Struggling with depression for 2 decades, being diagnosed with a progressive, degenerative disease which has caused debilitating pain for more than a decade, having two nervous breakdowns trying to accept the fact that I’d been raped and that it was not my fault, realizing that my relationship with my parents is fucked up and has always been based on emotional coercion, raising my kids alone whilst being threatened by their dads because I took them to court to pay child support, and working my ass off to give my kids an education has left me too broken (physically, emotionally, and psychologically). I’m afraid that one day I really won’t manage to get up and will do something stupid. My kids were the only reason I survived this long, but it just gets harder each day.

    • Hi Michaela, I am sorry to hear about so much struggle but happy you reached out. Do you have some professional support or a support group in your community that you can attend and which might provide encouragement and accountability? In terms of this post, was there one of the 7 ideas that jumped out to you; something that you could begin with?

      • Hi, no, I don’t. All of the ideas were helpful, especially 1 and 7. I know I need to actively look for help … it’s not going to pop up out of nowhere. Our culture here isn’t really “community inclined”, so I depend on the internet for that, but I’m sure it’ll be better than nothing. And about embracing my limitations, my past, baggage, and everything that basically made me the mess I currently am, I’m trying reeeally hard. The first step for me has been admitting that shit happened and even though it’s not ok and it’s fucked up, I made it through this far despite all of it. My “mantra” during the first year after my separation was the part of the song “Titanium” “you shoot me down, but I won’t fall, I am titanium”.

  5. Hi, this was very interesting. Im a person who has a big heart and personality and is always happy but, ive been feeling so down lately. I lost some of my friends, which hurts me the most. I lost myself and sometimes I feel like I want to give up on life. It hurts so much sometimes. Some days im happy some days its all curves. I wish I can end this pain and pick myself up but its tough. I feel like I just lost who I am and my purpose.

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