Effect of repeated failures on the self

Acharya Prashant
4 min readSep 29, 2020

The following is an excerpt from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.

Questioner: Sir, in this age of competition, sometimes we try very hard for various types of exams. Sometimes, rather many times it is possible that we come very close yet we end up on the failure’s side. This keeps continuing. It’s not that we don’t want, we want it but doesn’t the regular failures hamper our self-confidence? If it does, then how to deal with it?

Acharya Prashant (AP): So, are you asking, “How to deal with repeated failures?” Is that the question?

Questioner: Yes.

AP: Dealing with repeated failures is not a problem provided you are failing at something worthwhile. The more important question is, “What are you failing at?” Equally, the more important question is, “What are you succeeding at?”

We just say, “I am successful or I am a failure!” Why don’t we complete the description? What exactly are we successful at? What have we obtained? Or is it so, that we didn’t bother to go deeply into that and we just went by the commonly, socially accepted definitions of success and failure?

Do what is worth doing!

And then failure would not mean so much to you.

Equally, success too will not mean so much to you.

It is the doing that will matter.

You will say, “I’m grateful, I’m getting to do what is worth doing.”

Success or failure depends on a thousand factors — some internal, some external. And I have no handle over all those factors. I may succeed, I may fail, I may have a great role in my success, I may have no role in my failure — All these permutations are possible.

Sometimes it’s possible that you might be the architect of your success. Sometimes it’s possible that you are a failure despite all your brilliance. And you cannot really make this thing deterministic. Because the world in that sense is an open-ended system in which there are not only an infinite number of variables but also a constant flux of interdependent variables.

How do you really control them or manage them?

You cannot.