Realising That Failure Doesn’t Equal Humiliation

“[The dagger defence exercise] doesn’t go well. By the time we stop I feel defeated, frustrated and embarrassed.” It doesn’t take long for that embarrassment to turn into humiliation. By nighttime it’s already self-loathing.

Hang on… Self-loathing? Really? Overreacting much? This is stupid.

The problem? My self-confidence is pretty low. Add to that being tired after training, and suddenly the most insignificant little blunder feels like a total embarrassment.


  • It gets me down. I’m bound to fail numerous times during this course. It’s unavoidable. If that makes me walk away from every lesson feeling humiliated, then this is not going to be a fun experience.
  • It holds me back. The fear of failure actually guarantees failure, as it makes me start second-guessing myself. This results in weak, hesitating attacks and defences.


Yes. It’s been all too easy for me to excuse my shyness and nervousness by saying “that’s just who I am” and “I’m an introvert, can’t change that”. Be that as it may, I can affect my thoughts, and through them I’ll eventually be able to change my emotions. Hopefully.


I’ve come up with two rules:

  1. Stop thinking of failure as embarrassment. Every time I cringe at a memory, I’ll halt and remind myself of this. My goal is to learn sword fighting, right? Failures are just steps towards success.
  2. Stop thinking about yourself. It sounds funny to me that a self-confidence issue is tied to self-centeredness, but I think it’s true. It’s time to realise that the world doesn’t spin around my blunders. Nobody cares. Instead of worrying about how I’m coming across at all times, I’ll focus on giving other people more attention.

I hope that by actively working to keep to these rules, I’ll be able to uproot some of these ridiculous reactions to failure.

Strangely enough I’m not that unhappy about this issue. Sure, it’s inconvinient now, but if I succeed in fighting it I’ll be much easier off later in life. One simply can’t live without failing at things.

8 thoughts on “Realising That Failure Doesn’t Equal Humiliation

  1. It’s very brave of you to take a close look at what’s holding you down and keeping you back. Bravo! Keep moving forward. Take your rules with you throughout life. With them your confidence will grow, and you’ll become a better person because of it. :)

    • Thank you for your kind comment. :) I’m increasingly happy that I decided to take this course. If I hadn’t, who knows how long I would’ve had to wait for this revelation.

  2. I couldn’t have said it better myself! I happen to struggle with the same problems myself (a total failure when it comes to anything having to do with PE) and the complete embarassment really does hold you back. Thanks for the encouragement; I’ll keep your words in mind! = )

  3. Wow! You’re a great encouragement! Unfortunately, as a high-school student, I have the same problems you described. I am an absolute failure when it comes to PE. Fear really does hold us back. I just wanted to say thank you for the lesson. I’ll keep it in mind! = )
    You were probably doing better than you felt you were! = ) It usually works that way.

    • I’m sorry to hear that you’re struggling with this problem too, but happy that this post has encouraged you. :) High school PE classes unfortunately seem to be *the* place to learn to fear failure. It’s a real pity, as it puts a lot of people off sports entirely (I was one of those people until two months ago).
      Thank you for commenting and sharing your view on this topic! I think that realising the sillyness of this “not mastering something immediately is embarrasing” -mindset is already a big step towards adopting a healthier attitude towards exercise and life in general. Hopefully we’ll both manage to teach our emotions some sense. :)

  4. Wow, look at this little gem of wisdom nestled in a sword fighting blog! Actually, that’s just where I would expect to find it! :-) I will try to keep this in mind too! I might have stuck out a few more days of that crummy fencing class if I’d had this to think on.

    • Glad to hear you’ve found this useful! :) This is the most important thing I’ve learned on the course: it’s okay not to succeed. It’s okay to take your time to learn things.
      By the way, thanks for all the comments! It’s really encouraging to get feedback. :)

  5. I find often my experience of learning is quite marked with plateaus and even dips. I learn, I feel good,I learn some more, even better Then things seem to just trundle along for ages and there’s no sign of improvement…eventually it suddenly picks up and I find myself getting better and better- only to repeat the same cycle!
    Frustrating? Yes, but less so now I know it’s how I learn. Interestingly my daughter is showing similar signs.


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