How To Improve Your Self-Esteem After Failure

Written by Karl Perera BA, MA, DipLC
Updated: May 22nd, 2020

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Self-esteem is a subjective psychological state. It can be low or high, depending on a variety of factors. High self-esteem can be very beneficial. Still, when your self-esteem is low, you discover that situations that generally should be easy to navigate become difficult (see Leary et al, 1995 ) You find yourself missing out on opportunities and falling behind on your life plan because of your low self-esteem. Overcoming failure and learning from it is a key to building your self esteem and regaining confidence.

A significant factor that affects an individual’s self-esteem is a major failure or setback in life (as this research by Rosi et al, 2019, shows ). Regaining a high evaluation of yourself after overcoming failure can prove very difficult. If you are in a situation where self-esteem is low because of a major disappointment, below are some tips to help regain a high evaluation of yourself.

Cut Your Losses And Access The Situation

Overcoming failure may be very painful, especially when you don’t know what you did wrong or what you could have done better. However, when you decide to cut your losses, you allow yourself room to examine the situation, determine if you need to move in a different direction, or try again using a different strategy. It gives you the power to ask the deep and important questions you may be too scared to ask. Cutting your losses is very important because it helps you grow from the failure you experienced and not let it consume you. 

You need to make an in-depth assessment of the situation. Take responsibility for your failure; don’t blame somebody else because you are too scared to own up to your mistakes. Yes, other people’s actions may have influenced a negative result in whatever aspect of your life. However, you still have to take responsibility for the role you played and hold yourself accountable. This doesn’t mean being harsh or mean to yourself; it just means being open and honest about your shortcomings.

Forgive Yourself

You can’t move on from a situation if you are still holding on to resentment and bitterness towards yourself. Just as you will forgive that friend who wronged you, you should also forgive yourself without holding back. By forgiving oneself and learning from one’s mistakes can one truly move on from a negative situation. Please do not beat yourself up about the failures you have experienced; people make mistakes; it is what makes us human. Overcoming failure and learning from our mistakes makes us grow as humans and builds confidence. Failure is unavoidable; you must learn how to deal with and move past failure.


Your self-esteem may remain low for a longer time if you don’t face your fears head-on. One way to do this effectively is by creating a strategy to grow and improve on yourself. Go back to the drawing board and create an alternate strategy to give you your desired results. Use what you learned from accessing your failures to recalibrate your engine and try again. Take yourself out of your comfort zone and push yourself beyond the mental limit you set for yourself.

Move On

Moving on is vital in regaining your self-esteem after a failure. Don’t get stuck in what you did wrong; keep moving on. Remember, just as one door closes in your face, it gives room for thousands more to open up. Moving on is not giving up. Moving on is not for losers, it is for the strong, and it births strength. 

It takes real strength and courage to go back to the drawing board, see that something won’t work out, then move on to something else. Never feel defeated when you decide to move on, embrace it because it is only from moving on that you can get stronger in certain situations. 

Celebrate Your Past Successes

So your self-esteem has taken a massive blow with the failures you presently faced, understand that that is perfectly normal. However, remind yourself that just because you failed at something doesn’t mean you are a failure. You can do this by celebrating your past successes.  

An excellent exercise to try is to take out a notepad and list areas in your life where you have previously succeeded in, and the top accomplishments that you are most proud of. Then, list out the top skills that helped you achieve success in those areas, and celebrate them. Be proud of your accomplishments and skills, because as long as you have those skills, you can never be a failure.

Build Your Skillset

Now is the time to build yourself up for future success by building your skillset. You have already experienced failure; nothing can change the past. However, the future is bright, and it is closer than you think. Identify those skill sets that could have helped you in your path to success and build on them.

Was your failure caused by a lack of adequate knowledge, lack of public speaking skills, lack of self-discipline? What was it? Take out a pen and paper and identify those areas where you have failed, now list out the skill set you need to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself. Then, beneath the skill set listed out, write down actionable plans to attaining every one of them. For example, if you are a translator, use translation services to help improve and polish your skill.

Take A Break

Just as forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting, so also does taking a break does not mean letting go of responsibilities. Taking a break is simply the act of taking time off to de-stress after you have experienced significant failure. Research shows that long term stress can cause you health problems. So it is very important to take from all your stressing and worrying and simply focus on other activities that make you feel happy and whole. Surround yourself with family and friends, and activities that build your confidence and instill positive energy in you.


There you have it, some of our top tips for improving your self-esteem after you suffer a major failure. While these tips may not necessarily have to be applied in sequential order, it is important to practice every one of these tips for the most effective result. 


Rosi A, Cavallini E, Gamboz N, Vecchi T, Van Vugt F T, Russo R. 2019. The Impact of Failures and Successes on Affect and Self-Esteem in Young and Older Adults. Frontiers in Psychology. Vol 10 pp.1795.

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