Everyone experiences setbacks every now and then, but while some of us may view losses or disappointments as things that hinder us from achieving our goals, Heather Hans, licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and author of The Heart of Self-Love, says loss, disappointment, and tragedy can have the opposite effect, and may just be what we need in order to move up in both our personal and professional lives.
“If you think of anyone who has achieved anything great–take, for example, an Olympic athlete–they achieve success after repeated attempts and failure,” she says. Hans argues great success never comes without a set of failures. “Struggle is the part of the story where it’s about to get good. This is why movies have these kinds of climaxes to them. Struggle and loss are usually the precursor to success,” she says.
There are plenty of reasons why loss, disappointment, and disasters can bring out the best in us and lead us to the success we seek.
“When you go through the worst, you no longer fear the worst,” says Hans, who argues that confidence is the key ingredient to success. “We achieve success by believing that we can. When you’ve been through the worst, you no longer fear, and fear is really what prevents people from being confident,” she says.
Just as a muscle grows stronger when you lift weights, causing minor tears and repairs in the muscle, self-confidence works in the same way. The more loss, disappointment, and tragedy you go through, the stronger that muscle becomes and the more you will be able to believe in yourself to accomplish even more.
Resiliency is a key indicator of success, according to Hans. “When people don’t go through hardships, they remain weak and fragile,” she says. Once you face failure, rejection, or any sort of hardship, you’re forced to ask yourself how you can use this negative thing to move forward.
If you’ve ever worked in sales, for example, it’s likely you’ve faced numerous rejections. If you allowed those rejections to paralyze you, it’s unlikely you have stayed in a sales career. If, however, you have become a successful salesperson, it’s likely that you asked yourself after each rejection what you could have done differently and improved your technique at the next opportunity.
Failure is a good way to test how badly you want success. “If you quit after disappointment, you may not want it badly enough,” says Hans. If, after experiencing many losses and disappointments, you continue to strive toward your end goal, however, that’s a good sign that you really want this goal.