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How to Redefine Feelings of Failure to Growth
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How to Redefine Feelings of Failure to Growth

By Elizabeth Carruthers, RN MSN CNOR CBN CHHC


The definition of the word “failure” boils down to not meeting an intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success. When it comes to weight loss surgery (WLS), a revision may seem to some people to be a failure and an indication that the person doesn’t have what it takes to be successful at losing weight. In reality, revisional surgery does not mean failure. In fact, revisional surgery is just another step in the journey for some that can lead to greater success than originally imagined.


If you drop an egg on the floor and it breaks, are you a failure? No, you just dropped the egg and have a small mess to clean up. No big deal!


On the other hand, if your surgeon says that you need a revision of your WLS, you may begin beating yourself up for all the mistakes you think you made and all the things you didn’t do right. Did your surgeon say “you are a failure”? No… but your preconceived perceptions and beliefs have already labelled yourself as a failure without looking at all the facts.


Many surgical procedures that treat chronic conditions, such as joint replacements and hernia repairs, have a long-term need for revisional surgery to tweak the original procedure. The same is true in Bariatrics. There is a small percentage of patients undergoing WLS that will need revisional surgery to assist in the attainment of adequate weight loss or to correct complications of the original surgery.


At the start of your weight loss journey, it may be easy to stay on the path that is outlined for you. Eventually, the path curves and you have to make choices on which to turns to take. Sometimes, you may wander off, possibly reverting to old behaviors that contributed to your weight loss struggles, but this is still not a reason for punishment, shame, or labelling yourself a failure. All those who wander are not lost!


So, what can you do to alleviate those feelings of failure?

  • Focus on things that are within your control-- not all facets of life are within your control and trying to change them will only lead to more frustration and despair
  • Resolve to keep trying-- failure will only define you if you let it control who you become. You could easily spend a month wallowing in embarrassment, or you could use that month to get back on the wagon
  • Accomplish something small every day-- The more you work every single day, the easier it will be to find the energy to continue doing the necessary work.
  • Celebrate Small Victories-- doing so will keep you motivated and illustrates just how far you’ve come.
  • Redefine “Failure” as Growth-- You can’t learn to stand, walk, and run without falling down. Every failure is an opportunity to learn, grow, and finally, succeed.