Posted by: coachingparents | February 13, 2009


By Lloyd J. Thomas, Ph.D.

As we put more and more emphasis on “winning,” more and more of us
are depressed about losing.  When being “number one” is the only
acceptable goal, the vast majority of us fail…regularly.  The felt
need to be perfect essentially guarantees our failure to achieve
success.  We forget that the road to any success is paved with
failures.  The need for perfection itself falls way short of perfect
psychological …if not physical, health.

We often lump loss together with failure.  It rarely occurs to us
that we can never lose anything we don’t possess in the first place. 
And what do we really possess?  Nothing!  Everything constantly
changes.  The moment we think we have something, it’s history. 
Everything permanently exists only in memory, and we all know how long
memories last.  Whatever we think we own is illusion, an image, a
concept.  Whatever we think we lost is only a concept, a self-created

Without loss, we would very quickly fill up with everything.  People
with photographic memories are tormented by the sheer amount of trivia
filling their minds.  Loss is essential for balance in life.  Besides,
we really can’t lose anything we never had in the first place. 
Perceived loss is what generates depression.  Anticipated loss is what
generates fear.  And perceptions are non-material figments of our own
mental activity.

And what about “failure?”  It also occurs only in our perceptions. 
Failure is the gap between our self-created expectations, and the
current perceived reality.  If I expect or desire a certain outcome,
and it is not occur, I think I failed.  Perhaps.  However, when I
don’t act, or life doesn’t function in the ways that meet my expected
standards, does that in any way define who I am?  If I believe so, I
feel ashamed of myself, or depressed.  My self-esteem diminishes. 
Thinking who I am as a person, is a failure, is a nasty, unrealistic
way to perceive myself.

Failure is a perceived event, never a personal characteristic!

Basketball star, Michael Jordan was cut from his high school
basketball team.  Is he a failure?  Oscar winner, Woody Allen failed
motion picture production at both City College of New York and New
York University.  He also flunked English at NYU.  Is Allen a failure?
 General Douglas MacArthur failed to be admitted at West Point, not
once, but twice.  Was the General a failure?  Football’s
hall-of-famer, quarterback, Johnny Unitas, was considered “too small
to play football” by Notre Dame.  Did that make Unitas a failure?  Dr.
Seuss, author of dozens of best-selling children’s books (like “Cat In
The Hat” and “Green Eggs And Ham,” etc.) had his first book rejected
by 23 separate publishers.  Was Dr. Seuss a failure?  Inventor,
Chester Carlson, had his idea for reproducing copies turned down by 20
different companies.  Seven years past before the Haloid company
accepted the idea.  Haloid is known today as Xerox.  Was Carlson a

Failure is not a part of who you are.  Failures are perceived events
that occur when what happens now doesn’t match with what we expected
or wanted to happen.  Remember, you are always the actor, never the
action.  Actions may be unskilled, inadequate or irrelevant.  People
never are!

If loss exists only in our minds, and failure never defines who we
are, why would anyone become emotionally upset by such concepts? 
Usually it is because, as children, we were often disapproved of,
punished, or abandoned in some way.  I invite you to rethink your own
perceptions of loss.  Rethink your own perceptions of failure. 
Rethink and perhaps redefine yourself as a winner, as number one,
regardless of disappointing events.
Who you really are is the most wonderful, complex, marvelous life
form on the face of the earth.  Perceived loss and failure only hurt
you if you allow it or perceive it.   Always keep in mind, you are the
perceiver.  Perceive yourself as a winner and a success and you always
feel better about yourself and your life.  You may even experience
Life as fun, enjoyable…even delightful.


Dr. Thomas is a licensed psychologist, author, speaker, and life
coach.  He serves on the faculty of the International University of
Professional Studies. He recently co-authored (with Patrick Williams)
the book: “Total Life Coaching: 50+ Life Lessons, Skills and
Techniques for Enhancing Your Practice…and Your Life!”


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