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Fall down seven times, stand up eight

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

There is a Japanese proverb that quotes, “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.” On the surface it doesn’t make a lot of sense. How can we stand up once more than we fall down? However we often find ourselves asking this question without realising it. When life gets hard or it seems like we repeatedly fail, we query whether or not to try again. But maybe, just as the proverb suggests, this isn’t the time to let our mistakes or shortcomings knock us down. Maybe, it can be a chance to learn and grow – to keep persevering no matter what life throws at you.

Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, has been widely known for both his remarkable creation and his persistence in achieving success. When asked by a reporter how it felt to fail 1,000 times, Edison replied with, “I didn't fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention of 1,000 steps.” Each time Edison suffered a failed attempt, he used it as an opportunity to learn from his mistakes and try again. Mistakes are an important part of life. Whether baking a cake, sitting a test or responding to a situation in a certain way, they help to teach us what we could do differently next time, or how to grow moving forward. The reality is that we all make mistakes, or have done so in the past. This is as simple as being human – nobody is perfect. While some mistakes may be small, others may be large and have real follow on consequences. However it is up to you to choose how you respond to these and what you take away from it.

Many of us put a lot of pressure on ourselves to achieve – whether it’s passing an exam, getting that next promotion at work or mastering a new skill. As we move through life we often seem to find more boxes we feel the need to tick in order to be successful. As the boxes mount up however, so does the pressure. With this increase in stress, our sense of accomplishment heightens when we hit our targets – but so too does our disappointment in failure. If left unchecked, this feeling of disappointment can run rampant over our self-esteem, causing negative self-thoughts and an unwillingness to try again. If we are working towards a goal or target that is out of reach we can loose hope with each unsuccessful step, or inaction can put us even further behind where we want to be. This is why it is important we understand that mistakes and failure are a critical part of life. While on the surface they may appear as setbacks, if we take the opportunity to learn from them, we may find that we can move forward again with more knowledge and confidence.

A fear of failure or the unknown is natural, but this fear also fuels a negative mindset. Failure itself becomes the thing to be avoided – which can give way into potentially not trying at all. If we don’t try, then we never have to fail. On the other side however, if we don’t try, then we can never succeed. Perhaps it is time we redirect this fear to the ‘what if?’ What if we didn’t try again? What if we stayed in the same place, never moving forward? Redirecting this fear of failure into a fear of not trying again can help us advance and continue striving towards our goals. We can begin to question how much further we could go, or what could happen if we try one more time. In doing so, we can turn our fear into a driving factor to succeed – helping to encourage us to persevere or continue when things get tough. Many of us fear or believe that both failure and success are final. That whichever outcome we experience, there is no changeability between the two. But what if both results were fluid? Would we then have more confidence to continue, and less fear to hold us back from trying?

Every day we make a choice. Whether it’s a choice on what to wear, who to talk to or how much effort to put into our job, these choices make up our personal characteristics and attributes. So the next time you are faced with a difficult decision, or fear you have failed at a task, ask yourself – will you fall down seven times, or stand up eight? Read about the benefits of getting out into nature.

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