What To Do After A Failure

What to do after a failure

What To Do After A Failure

Let’s Face It, We’re Not Perfect

Everyone makes mistakes. If you’re alive, you have made and will continue to make mistakes. Today, I want to talk about the failures we make in judgment and choices. These are the types of failures that, in reality, are entirely our own fault. Some would call them moral failures, and others might call them sin. Regardless of what terminology you use, everyone fails at one point… and then a few more points along this journey of life.

In fact, everyone you meet today will have something in common, they all know what it feels like to fail. With that understanding, it only makes sense that knowing what to do after a failure will make our lives much easier.

Coping Mechanisms

I think there are three standard ‘go-to’ coping mechanisms that people use to navigate life after they’ve made mistakes. They’re the 3 Paths People Take After Failure.

3 Post-Failure Paths

  1. Denial – Pride always refuses to admit wrong.
  2. Shame – Guilt always holds you prisoner to your failures.
  3. Forgiveness – Forgiveness accepts reality and then sets you free.


Human nature revolts at the idea of being wrong about pretty much anything. We have to constantly fight against the desire to avoid admitting mistakes until we absolutely have to.

When we are unwilling to accept responsibility for our mistakes, our natural tendency is to deny that we have them. We begin to justify our actions. We invent reasons why our mistake wasn’t a mistake at all.

The longer we live in denial, the more elaborate and damaging the lies we tell ourselves will become. We do this so that we can continue living in denial of our mistake.

We can usually convince our heads that we’re in the right, but our hearts and our conscience holds out much longer. Those who continue to reject the reality of their mistakes by reaffirming the lies they tell themselves will deal with serious psychological and social issues.


The self-destructive cousin to denial is ‘shame’. The person in denial pretends they are perfect. The person who chooses the path of shame admits their guilt but then tries to make atonement for their wrongs by living with self-inflicted pain, guilt, and suffering.

Shame pulls us away from others – even ourselves. Shame causes us to hide.  As long as you’re bound by shame, you’ll never be able to confidently rise up to become the person you are destined to be.

Shame will always whisper in your ear that you aren’t worthy, that you don’t deserve it, and that you shouldn’t even be trying to go after it.


Denial won’t accept blame, and shame won’t let it go. Both of those options result in us living sub-par lives. The only healthy path to take is a path of forgiveness.

If you’ve made mistakes in life, stop denying it. You’re not fooling anyone except yourself, and let’s be honest – you’re not doing that either.

Moving forward after failure requires that we acknowledge our failures, but we must not cling to them as part of our identity. Your life does not have to be defined by your mistakes.

What to do after a failure? Embrace Forgiveness – All of us have done, or are doing, things that we knew were wrong and have caused serious pain to others. It can be difficult to embrace forgiveness when we know the negative impact our choices have had.

You’ve stopped living in denial, now it’s time to stop trying to crucify yourself. You won’t undo the hurt, and you’ll cause more hurt by hindering yourself from becoming the beautiful gift that you can be to those around you.

Accepting forgiveness and forgiving yourself turns the page in your story and begins the next chapter of your life with a blank page. Forgiving yourself energizes you with the will to get back up and fight again.


The Christian Basis for What to Do After A failure.

Everyone screws up – Romans 3:23 says that all of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.

A lot of people live in denial – Romans 1:18-25 talks about how many people live in denial and their rejection of truth corrupts their minds.

Too many people choose to live in Shame – 2 Corinthians 7:10 talks about the devastation of shame on our lives. (Good Sorrow vs Bad Sorrow – another post)

Finally, forgiveness is absolutely an option for all of us. Ephesians 1:7-8 says this, “Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people—free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly free!”

Are there some mistakes that you’re denying and avoiding today? Are you holding onto failures that you need to let go? My prayer for you today is that you’ll find the freedom that God desires for you to have through forgiving yourself and accepting the forgiveness He freely offers.

About the Author

Jeremy BinnsWhen I'm not trying to save the world from the coming zombie invasion, I love my wife, hug my daughters, write, photograph, listen, observe, explore, and worship.View all posts by Jeremy Binns →

  • Laurel Griffith

    We had a visiting pastor speak at our church on Sunday. He pointed out there is a difference between shame and conviction. Shame is never from God. As you say so well, shame keeps us from becoming the person God intends. Conviction, on the other hand, is the result of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. Shame strangles; conviction liberates. Thanks for the insight!

    • http://www.jeremybinns.com/ Jeremy Binns

      Laurel, I really enjoy the insight in your comments.

      You’re exactly right too. Shame and conviction produce opposite results entirely. Shame makes us hide from God while conviction compels us to run to Him.

      I wrote a post about the ‘Two Sorrows’ once talking about that very topic. http://wp.me/p1ti0i-z2

      Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your feedback!

  • http://twitter.com/joshpegram75 Josh Pegram

    Shame “I am the mistake” Guilt “ I made a mistake” We all make mistakes but God does not,so free yourself of Shame and he is the ultimate forgiver so process the guilt, correct the mistake and keep moving… Great post Jeremy

    • http://www.jeremybinns.com/ Jeremy Binns

      “Correct the mistake and keep moving” – that’s what it’s all about Josh. Thanks for reading and commenting.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot

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