Many of the ‘big moments’ in our lives are related to events of success and failure. We often experience how powerfully these moments shape our self-esteem and emotional states. When we succeed, we feel strong, worthy and generally good about ourselves. When we fail, we may feel inferior, flawed, frustrated or down.

However, If we take a closer look, we will find that it is not succeeding or failing at something that affects us on so many levels, but the way we react to these events: Our attitudes towards success and disappointments, the way we see them.

Very often, our anxieties and emotional disturbances are fuelled by certain deep rooted (unverbalised) attitudes towards failure, such as: ‘I must always do well, or I am worthless’; ‘Failing is horrible, I can only be OK with myself when I succeed’.

As long as our self-esteem and emotional well-being is overly dependent on our successes and failures, we will always invite feelings of insecurity and frustration. Rethinking and changing our relationship with failure can liberate us from anxieties, and can help cultivate a more authentic and stable sense of self-acceptance.

As hypnosis is essentially about opening up to new, helpful ideas or attitudes and letting them guide our perception and behaviour, it is a great way to help people foster a more stoic way of relating to failure: Letting go of the ‘inner rule’: ‘I must succeed or I am no good’, and nurturing a new, more balanced attitude: ‘I would like to succeed very much, but if I don’t, I can deal with that and still feel OK about myself’.

Or as Kipling puts it, in his poem: “If—”

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;…

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son.

– Kipling, written in 1895.

This shift in how we relate to the area of failure and self-esteem can liberate us from a lot of undue worry and anxiety. Moreover, cultivating a less dependent, more authentic, unchanging sense of self and a more ‘tolerant’ attitude towards disappointments, will actually help us perform better. We will be able to focus our energies on our tasks without the added pressure of all our self-worth lying at the mercy of success.

Making these shifts is a rewarding journey of self-exploration and learning. Cognitive psychology and hypnotherapy have effective frameworks and tools to help people nurture a sense of unconditional self-acceptance, hence liberating energies to actually do better or tolerate the unwanted.