Failure as Feedback

Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.” 

With time, I have come to realize that failure has always been my greatest teacher. Each failure pointed me in a better direction and helped me to develop strength and authenticity, ultimately unveiling who I was and what I was destined to become

F. A. I. L. = First Attempt In Learning

• The failing grade I received on my first exam in graduate school taught me how to ask for support when I needed it most, no matter how shameful I felt or embarrassed I was.

• The end of a long-term relationship taught me how to value my time alone and make tough decisions for myself, no matter how weak I felt or lonesome I was.

• The layoff from a job I loved taught me how to let go, look forward, and trust in something so much bigger than myself, no matter how scared I was or irrelevant I felt.

“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”


Is it possible to see failure in a positive light?

Under the right conditions, failure strengthens us, adds to our self-knowledge, and enhances the quality of our lives

• If it weren’t for failure, I would not have met my husband John.

• If it weren’t for failure, I would not be a psychology professor.

• If it weren’t for failure, I would not have written three textbooks.

• If it weren’t for failure, I would not be the person I am today.

“Failure is the opportunity to begin again.”


Read Article :

 Your Turn:

What has failure taught you?

Video of Post: Click Here

123 thoughts on “Failure as Feedback

Add yours

  1. What a great way of looking at it all. I simply never saw it that way, but will now try harder. I tend to throw my toys out of the pram when things go wrong or I get it wrong and fail. Tantrums at my age! Ridiculous but I’m working on it. Thanks for your very useful post. I look forward to more!

    1. Thanks for the feedback!

      This post was inspired by the times I sit with my psychology students post-exams. Helping them find the one life lesson they could learn from the ashes of defeat.

      The pheonix always rises.
      When we give failure room to breathe..
      This I know for sure.

  2. Great post. People’s fear of failure often prevent them from living life to its fullest.

    Failure has always been life’s greatest learning tool.

    Have a wonderful day. Happy to see you spreading your wisdom.

    1. Providing encouragement in the space between failure and personal transformation makes all the difference. No matter how long it takes. Nothing complicated. Simply being there for others (and ourselves) during the lows and the highs. In person and/or in word. Something you do as an author, in your writing, every single day. You bear witness.

  3. If it weren’t for business failure in my mid forties, I never would have followed my dreams and became a teacher.

    That said, I have to admit that I bruise easily and it takes me a bit to pick up from the blow to the ego and begin again when failure hits.

    1. I love how self-aware and honest you are VJ. So refreshing! Two of your greatest strengths.

      The key is not how much you bruise, but the beauty that becomes if it. Including your “One Women’s Quest” blog. A source of comfort for so many of us.

      Thank goodness for your failures. Otherwise, your students and your readers would never have had the benefits of your wisdom.


  4. Such an encouraging post because it’s hard to remember to look at “failure” in a positive light most of the time. If it wasn’t for failure, I wouldn’t have learned as much as I have, I wouldn’t have taken my degree all those years ago or started my blog. Great post, thank you for sharing and for the wonderful reminder! 🙂
    Caz xx

    1. So many fruits from your failures! Your degree, your “Invisibly Me” blog, your life lessons.

      Each time WE share “Aha Moments” about OUR OWN downturns to UPTURNS — we all benefit!

      Thank you Caz 😘

  5. Great post Andrea. In Ireland, the school system embedded a fear of failure and therefore a fear of trying for fear of failure. My favourite moments in class are when my students see failure as a doorway to learning!

  6. Such a great post!

    I learned to think of failure as a learning experience long ago, when I was trying to leave an abusive relationship. Each unsuccessful try taught me more about what I would face so I could figure out how to get through it. Like the belief that the people who give us the hardest time and the most pain are our best teachers, so are our greater failures. Good thing about failure, you can try again with your new knowledge.

    Big hugs, for this post, Dr!!

  7. Reblogged this on Brianne's Blog and commented:
    I can’t tell you how long it took me to break through the mindset that I must succeed on the first try for anything I attempt or else I must self-flagellate and wallow in the aftermath of my failure. This mindset is not only unrealistic but also harmful. The fear of failure can prevent us from moving forward and learning from our mistakes to become better and better. It’s so easy to slip into the pattern of comfort and familiarity, which is why so many people stick with the same job or relationship year after year even though they’re miserable.

    Change is scary. Failure is even scarier. But you can’t expect anything to change if you don’t try. Be willing to cut yourself some slack if the result isn’t what you wanted. Sometimes the best things in life happen entirely by accident and can be found only by hitting and overcoming every roadblock in your way first.

  8. Thank you so much for writing such a relevant article! I used to be terrified of failure but, like public speaking or performing in front of an audience, it gets less scary the more you do it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve flubbed something up or ran into technical malfunctions during a dance number, but those performances tend to be the ones I remember the most – and fondly!

    This topic can apply to all areas of life and embracing failure is something I hope more people can get in the habit of doing!

  9. Yes, I think you can. I think it was Henry Ford, or another famous inventor who said … that he know 100 ways not to do it.

    Failure is a positive thing and I feel how else do you get experience in life.

    I think school system globally creates right wrong, pass fail as a way of grading exams.. but real life isn’t like that.

    Life is more like how it went wrong, and how to do we bring it back ..

    Great post.

  10. Very wise! I saw this in my feed this morning and it is very relevant to the current feelings. I’ve learned that society still has a big stigma on disabled individuals, I feel like I fail a lot just to get to a point where I can get to a level playing field with my peers.

    1. So wonderful to hear from you Mandy! I am so inspired by your story and your blog. And by the way, in my eyes, you are on a whole other playing field. One that is UP HIGH. Keep shining!

  11. Thank you for writing this! I really like this reframe of failure. Recently, I shared with a student how many rejection letters I got before I got an interview for a doctoral program. This is exactly what I was thinking but couldn’t find the right way to say it. I’m going to share this with students.

    Failure has taught me a lot about faith, knowing who to have in my “circle” and about my own level of resilience! If it weren’t for failure, I would not have a Ph.D, I would not have had such significant personal growth, and I would not have discovered yoga/meditation.

    1. Awesome news! 🙂
      I love that you’re going to share this post with your students!

      – So often, just like you, I have shared my own failures with my students — and then ended with the punch line “And look where I am now”. And in that moment they get a glimmer of hope in their eyes, after hearing that I received a 38% on my first Masters’ level stats exam, and still graduated with a PhD.

      – Thank you for also sharing what all your failures (and PhD rejection letters; I have many too) have taught you. Truly inspiring!

      1. Yes! I hope that when I share these with students (even my errors/lessons as a therapist) they will feel comfortable talking with me about barriers to their learning so I can help them.

        I think once we have the right intention, we can show our students that we are human just like them (with struggles too) while maintaining healthy professional boundaries with our students.

        1. Yes to all of the above!

          Especially about boundaries. I always remind students that I’m their professor, not their psychologist. A phrase they often repeat back to me, when asking for help.

          Which translates into coaching and supporting their academic struggles while building a bridge to counselling on campus, when and if they need it.

          Win-Win! 📖💙

  12. In the Silicon Valley, people are rewarded for failing early, quickly and then learning quickly and moving on to the next version. I wish more companies understood that this can be a source of great innovation.

    1. Brilliant example! Thank you for sharing. An important, transformative message for educators and entrepreneurs. Failure and growth are intertwined. Shifting our Perception of it is everything.

  13. Failure is beautiful…
    It means your in the “game” and not side lining your life out of fear..

    I see failure as success because hopefully if your able it will teach you how to recover as well..
    These are both essential criteria’s in your overall development and growth in any human department of living..

    Unfortunately, our society has created a stigma with failing, seeing it only as a negative thing..

    They need a course that designed to teach children, parents, teens, adults how to fail miserably as a life lesson class, and then coach you back on how to recover yourself (mind body spirit) as well..

    It is in all that where you find your infinite wisdom that can never be taught in a class room..
    That is what is lacking in our society today !!!

    Your blog is GREAT ❤

    1. I love your reflections on this post.
      Exactly why I cherish the blogging process. Together we weave a story that rises above anything we could do on our own.

      Thanks also for your feedback on my blog.
      So encouraging! 🙏💙

  14. I believe Failure can be positive. I talk about this a lot with others and see failure as an opportunity to learn, what works and what doesn’t. Each misstep I have taken, each slip, each detour, each time I tried and just didn’t make it became another stepping stone on my path to success and to the life I live now.

    Thank you for this reminder! This is great!

  15. Absolutely. No one can succeed without failing first. How we react to that failure is what shapes us, IMO.

    I always enjoyed Tom Peters’ comment on failing: that if we feared failing, nobody would ever learn to walk, because none of us ever stand up and start walking without failing and falling down.

    That’s the intellectual side, of course, and the physical aspect. Emotionally, it’s more of a struggle. We put greater hopes and expectations in trying to succeed, so the taste and feel of failure can be shockingly bitter and paralyzing.

    Part of that, too, is understanding that it’ll take some time and processing to recover from failure. Being patient with ourselves is part of believing in ourselves. I think that’s where so many of us really fail. We invest so much in trying to succeed that we let it define us, in part because we hunt for validation. Then, when failure is encountered, our validation is shredded.

    It’s beautiful how complicated people are. We’re dynamic, complex puzzles and deceive ourselves into thinking we’re static.

    Thanks for another thought-inducing post. Cheers

    1. Such an intriguing and inspired reflection on my post. Thank you Michael! You always know how to take the discussion to the next level.

      So many points worth expanding upon. Especially when we look below the surface as to why failure hurts when it happens. Validation is key, as you write. We put all our identity in “one basket”(the relationship, the job, the grades).

      And if we “fail at that” then who are we? Failures. We’ve all felt that crush in identity. Which is why healthy distractions, growth mindsets, and strong support systems are everything. And Faith. Above all else.

      Life makes perfect sense — when lived backwards. Only then do we see the elegance of our mistakes. Here’s hoping we see the beauty in our failures looking forward too. 🍃

      1. Thanks. I enjoy reading your posts. I dislike using words like mindfulness, because it’s become another pop culture buzz word, but I think it’s apropos here. I ‘know’ many of these things, but forget about them on a daily basis as the world and my issues suck me down. Reading your posts help me reflect and regain balance, and become more mindful of how I’m responding to events. Cheers

        1. “Reading your posts help me reflect and regain balance, and become more mindful of how I’m responding to events.”

          Thank you Michael! Your words boost my motivation for writing tenfold.

  16. I totally agree with you.

    Failure has put me on the path I was supposed to be on long ago. You have to be open to what failure is teaching.

    It’s so easy like you said to Look too long and regretfully at that closed door. I know that I spent way too long at that door.

    Wonderful post Dr. Dinardo 🙂

  17. Failure is a judgment!

    If I train for, say a big race. I commit to totally to training, practice etc.

    I push my limits to near exhaustion

    The day of the race, I finish a half a step behind winner.

    In the past I would endure this as a loss.

    In the long no run, my race is internal and that training, the journey was special, positive and living.

    That trophy will lose it luster and you will not leave this earth with approval trinkets

    1. “ In the past I would endure this as a loss. In the long no run, my race is internal and that training, the journey was special, positive and living.”

      Beautifully said AND lived Marty!
      It’s about the journey — not the race.

      Positive living, including our response to “failure” is what endures.
      We only get one life. Make it sacred. 🌏 🍃

      1. I love your work! And your delivery is passionate and contagious. I’ve been thinking about short videos but I can’t stand to see myself (in pictures) or video. 😛 Your students are fortunate to have you as their professor!

        1. Thank you so much!

          My best tip for you is to start where I did with my first video blog: <— I took an old post and added in my narrative (without myself personally in the shot), this gave me the confidence to venture a little more outside my comfort zone with a selfie style video.

          Both styles work! You don’t have to be in the shot. Whatever you decide, I am here for virtual cheering & support when and if you go for it!


  18. “In life, the memories of all that is good and bad are what become your blueprints to designing the Best of You.   If you didn’t have them,  what would fuel the fires of strength,  determination and dedication?” ©Emma Ortega Negrete

    This quote sums it up. It’s in the post is called, what is life about? Also in one of my self-help books. 😁🙌

    1. Most excellent!

      Did you have a chance to read the original magazine article or watch the video?

      I’d love to hear how your life experiences match up with mine.

      One more learning opportunity! 💡💛

      1. Andrea, I did listen to your video and, once again, we’re on point. Failure helps us to find our successes. In fact, that’s how I ended up being an empowerment lifecoach. However, I know we are always growing so I’m excited to see what else God has in store for me. 😁🙌💕🙏

    1. Brilliant example! Your work and life experience underscores the fruits of adversity and resilience. I look forward to learning more about your work on via your blog. Have a wonderful start to the week! ☀️🍂

  19. Agreed…failures actually more often than not show the right direction provided we are willing to see and take it…

    But unfortunately the fear of what people will say often forces us to still blindly follow what we were.

    You saw the change and accepted it and hence this explains where you are today…happy with life.

    Stay blessed Dr. Andrea

  20. I dated a conman once. After he wiped out my account and left me shattered, my first thought was that I should never date again, but I knew that wasn’t right. The lesson, I decided, was that my trust was sacred, and the skill I needed to hone was discernment. Definitely a turning point in my relationship experience. Another good post!

    1. What a powerful example of this VJ!

      “Trust is sacred”
      “Discernment is (was) the lesson”

      I can relate to this on every level.

      Thank you for sharing VJ!


      In every form it takes.

    1. Interesting that you wrote: “I wish I would have read this as a young person”.

      Because this ^ is what motivated this post (article, video) in the first place!

      I teach psychology in a nursing program where the standards students place on themselves is unbelievably high.

      So one day, I share how I failed (like REALLY REALLY failed) a statistics exam in graduate school……. BUT still went on to achieve a PhD.

      There is no shame in failure.
      Only Feedback :-))))

      How we “frame” life is everything.

    1. Thank you! This post began with a student worried about failed a test. Followed by me sharing how failure wasn’t shameful – it is the best teacher (and feedback) we’ll ever have. The key is to lean in and listen with an open heart. 📖 💭💙

  21. Failure is a concept, that puts us down. If we turn failure into an opportunity to learn we become wise and experienced in all aspects of life. Failure is not a bad thing, it it is and opportunity. We need to change the word failure, because life is is not all or nothing.

    Life isn’t one chance to get it right. Failure is a concept created at school to pass it fail. But in real life it has no place as it hinders us. If we don’t do well it is an opportunity to learn do better. I don’t like the word failure it isnt helpful to our life and to our own self respect.

    1. Thank you for watching the video and reading the post!

      I was invited to write a psychology column for The Drive Magazine. And I wanted to make sure that the theories and research were relatable to everyone. Thus, many of my ideas were based on real life situations, including my own.

      That said, the original idea for this ^ post was spurred by a student who was struggling with failure (as we all do), so I made it into a classroom activity for the anxiety module in my textbook.

      Link to original article here:

  22. As I watched your video, I kept thinking…what if?…if only children were raised with this kind of mindset and were able to internalize it. I know that some are, but so many are not. It starts there – with kids who are afraid to try new things because they are shamed by a recent “failure” (by a parent or in some cases a teacher).
    You offer such important information & insight and hopefully those who learn this will raise their children differently. I really think the world would be a better place. More confidence. Less fear. If there is less fear, I believe kindness will win.

    1. Thank you for your feedback. It’s the encouragement I needed today. I especially loved how you kept thinking “what if”.

      I filmed this video with my psychology students in mind. So often they ask for encouragement during the steepest parts of the education curve. Which often includes failure.

      By reframing it as feedback – an innocuous word – they are able to shift from powerless to empowerment almost instantly.

      I too believe that “kindness will win”.


      1. You’re welcome. What a gift you give in your video – empowerment woven in as “feedback.” To realize too that failure is not the end of the world – especially in the college bubble. I wish I had had a psychology professor like you back in the day 🙂

  23. Try, try and try again…. I am a person that tries not to be beaten … and who learns from her mistakes.. 😀 My Dad instilled in us as children, there is no such word as Can’t. So I give many things a go…. Including laying a linoleum floor… in a bathroom…. it took me all day, lots of tears and frustration… But when finished.. it looked perfect… lol…. 🙂 And I walked on it with pride.. LOL…
    Have a beautiful weekend Andrea… 😀 💚🙏

    1. What a wonderful story of resilience and social support Sue. Thank you for taking the time to read and share. You always add an extra layer of warmth to my posts. Grateful for your time 🙏💙☀️

  24. My fear of failure has both motivated me to succeed and prevented me from doing things I wanted to do.
    I was taught that failure was bad and never realized anyone who accomplished something great failed many times before they succeeded.
    I think they should teach children that it is ok to fail in school. Failure is a stepping stone to success.
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful post. Stay safe.

    1. Such an incredible perspective on failure. It truly is feedback – what to do more of & what to do less of. Which is why I wholeheartedly agree that it’s essential to allow people to FAIL while giving them the tools to BOUNCE FORWARD. Wishing you an October filled with pumpkin possibilities! 🍂

  25. I’ve never failed at being me, but that the me I was before each “Failure” has never been the same as the me that came away. We see things in one way, then something happens to change that. Some call it failure, some call it learning, I wonder if anyone calls it at 2am on a Sunday morning?

Leave a Reply to learning to live like water Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: