How to Catch Yourself When You Stumble or Fall

catch yourself

“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise L. Hay

When I was younger, in my early twenties I wasn’t always my own best friend.

Especially when I made a mistake. Or when I failed.

No matter if it was in my personal life or in my studies at the university.

I didn’t have much patience for myself when I stumbled and so those situations usually wound up in days or sometimes even weeks when I beat myself up repeatedly about what went wrong.

Now, 10 years later, I have learned to be kinder towards myself.

Because even though self-beatings might sometimes work to perform better the next time it is in the long run a very destructive habit for your motivation, happiness and your self-esteem.

But what do you replace it with when you stumble or have a setback?

Let me share four insights and habits that have helped me with that.

1. Remember: If you want to do something of value in life then you will stumble.

If you want to go outside of your comfort zone, if you want to do things that really matter then you will stumble. You will fail or make mistakes from time to time.

It has happened to everyone over the past thousands of years that wanted to do something of value in the world.

So it is normal and it is OK. Even though some people may try to convince you otherwise.

2. Be your own best friend.

It is OK to feel angry or disappointed for a short while. But don’t fall into the common trap of beating yourself up and acting like an unkind boss towards yourself. That will erode your self-esteem. Be a kind and supportive friend to yourself instead.

Ask yourself: How would my friend/parent support me and help me in this situation?

Then do things and talk to yourself like he or she would.

3. What is one opportunity or lesson here?

A failure or a mistake is very rarely permanent. It might feel like it is. But most often it is temporary and there is something you can do about the situation.

So tap into optimism and being constructive instead of becoming passive and pessimistic.

Ask yourself: what is one opportunity or lesson in this situation?

My experience has been that there is almost always something that is helpful or good – in the long run – to find in any situation.

4. Take one small action to solve the situation or to move forward.

With your lesson or opportunity in mind ask yourself this:

What is one small step I can take right now to start solving or to moving away from this situation?

Then take that small step. Focus only on that step and on getting it to done.

And after that find the next small step and do the same with that one.

Step by small step keep moving forward towards something better, even if you may stumble again.

Photo by Matt McDaniel

16 thoughts on “How to Catch Yourself When You Stumble or Fall”

  1. Could not be more right on the spot for me at this very moment. Thank you Henrik.
    I stumbled more than I can count, I’m trying to learn the lessons and take action to ‘right my wrongs’ even though I may not succeed.

  2. Thank you got sharing this wonderful and insightful information with all.
    Currently I am in this selfbeating mode.
    I think I should take this lesson from you.
    God bless!

  3. Thanks for the wonderful reminders in your post. It is so hard sometimes not to berate ourselves when we try and fail. Sometimes the biggest lesson is to be our own best friend.

  4. Thanks for the article, I think we all go through this at one time or another. The best thing is to not stay there. Enjoy the article, it was very well written. May I use some of your comments in my blog at times, of course you will be given credit.

  5. Great advice, Henrik. I was also very hard on myself in my twenties, but learned it didn’t accomplish much. I’m the only person on this planet that I’m with 24/7, I’m so glad I decided I was worth it to treat with the same love and respect I give others.

  6. Hi, Hendrik!

    I have stumbled plenty of times in my life. My life has gotten better when I stopped being my own toughest task master.

    Your advice about being kind to yourself as you learn is excellent. The only way to avoid any mistakes is to avoid taking action. Admitting defeat before you start is also the best way to avoid victory and joy.

    Thank you for gently reminding me that my best friend is me.

  7. I had a similar problem with criticizing myself when I failed when I was in my twenties. Now I realize that behind every success there are tons of failures.

  8. So true Henrik, I think most people at some point in their lives have beaten themselves up over mistakes or failures. The truth is that they are just lessons in life to keep us on the path we have chosen and nothing to get upset about, as you say they don’t last, so we need to just dust ourselves off and get back on track and be thankful for the lessons.

  9. Great article and good points. I think that taking small actions is the best one. Many people are just seeing how big the problem is and don’t know how to tackle it, if you take small actions every day you will eventually come out of there with a smile on your face. I have made similar books about motivation have a look at them and tell me what you think, all feedback is appreciated :)

  10. Hi, you are definitely right, it is normal and it is OK to stumble, fail, make mistakes from time to time, but always keep in mind that in every bad situation there’s is always something good that we can get out of it. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

  11. this is a great read Henrik. I especially love the third item because I used to think failure was the end of it all but after reading all the blogs and listening to all the podcasts I can get when I was really down, they all said the same thing and that is that we should see failure as an opportunity to improve and that failure should not let us down but give us motivation to get back on our feet instead.

    Great post!

  12. Kagiso Matlala

    thank you man.

    reading about your past, made me realize that life offers not only good times only, but even those bed days that we might not want people to know about.

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