Ask The Therapist: “I have failed several times and I keep losing my motivation…what do I do?”

In 2016, the number of people estimated to be suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety amounted to roughly 1.1 billion. Since then, numbers have likely continued to rise. Moreover, studies have also shown women especially on average are a) more likely to suffer from mental health issues, and b) less likely to talk about them. The taboo in Pakistan surrounding depression and anxiety disorders only serve to aggravate the individuals suffering even more. For the women who cannot seek out full time therapy, or simply need advice about their problems, we’ve enlisted the help of a trained counsellor. You sent us in your questions – here are the answers!

“I am a 23-year-old student studying Chartered Accountancy and have recently failed my exams. Everyone else in my class has cleared theirs and started their jobs, but I am stuck. I know CA is tough, but I have failed several times and I keep losing my motivation. Every time I sit to study, I am haunted by the previous time I appeared for my exam. I have always been an above average student and I enjoy studying, yet I keep failing. Most of my concepts are clear but I always have this nagging feeling in me. I feel like a complete loser. All of my friends are either studying or already have jobs and I just sit at home barely existing. How do I keep myself from becoming totally useless? Just before writing this email I saw on Facebook that another one of my juniors has cleared his exams and has found a job. Now I feel even worse about myself. I don’t know if I am making sense at this point, but what do I do? Most of the time I feel like sitting in a corner either watching friends or playing candy crush. I don’t feel like talking to anyone out of the fear that someone might ask me about my studies. It’s been a dream of mine since as long as I can remember to become a Chartered Accountant. I don’t want to give up on that, but I also I don’t have the courage to fail again. I also have another concern – I recently did an internship and I had an amazing time there. But I just can’t stop thinking about it and replaying it in my head. Is this normal?”

Shahrukh’s Response:

Hey Anon,

I really hear you on this one. It sounds like you’re having trouble getting to the outcome you desire, and that can be tough. Let’s see what we can do to help you out.

First thing’s first: Your Mindset Matters.

One thing that you must always keep in mind is that your mind is always listening. Being conscious of the language you use can make a HUGE difference. Yes, you might have not cleared your exam, but remember – more than failure, it is an opportunity to learn and see how you can improve the next time around. There is no failure, there is only feedback and learning – and with that, there is also a great deal of resilience. 

There are several examples of people who weren’t able to achieve their goal on the first try, or even their second or third. J.K. Rowling had her manuscript rejected twelve times. Albert Einstein failed his entrance exam for university. Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he was told he lacked imagination. Now, what did all of these people have in common more than anything? Their mindset. They chose to keep going  and focus on their goal, holding onto the hope and faith that they will attain it. These are just the examples of people whose names we are familiar with. People around you may experience this sense of “failure” in some aspect of their life. At the end of the day, we often forget that we DO have a choice. 

Your obstacles and struggles do not define you, the only thing that defines you is how you choose to move forward and proceed. Hitting roadblocks can be hard, but that does not mean that your journey is over or that you are unable to meet your goal. You absolutely can! It’s just the matter of believing it and finding another way; and there is a way if you really set your mind to it. It’s also important to note that in order for you to achieve your goal, make sure that it is something that you really want for yourself. It needs to be self-driven. If it is, then go forth and do whatever you can to achieve it!  

Climb Out Of The Social Media Comparison Trap…

This is a big one. While I know that in the age of social media, it becomes difficult to ignore the lives of those around us, but it is important to keep in mind that everyone is on a journey and trajectory of their own. We only see a snippet of it online. People do not share their roadblocks and hurdles, but that does not mean that they don’t exist for nearly each and every person. Focus on your path, and let others be your motivation rather than your reason to fall. Again, it is all about the mindset. You are not defined by what others around you are doing. 

Revisit Your Study Tactics

When it comes to the realm of academics and studying, try to pay attention to your study habits – they influence your performance levels.

Find out your sensory language: Are you a visual learner? An auditory learner? A combination of both? Finding out your primary mode of communication and learning is an excellent way to optimise your learning experience. Once you know, try to see if you can implement it into your studying. Maybe reading out loud? Drawing? Voice notes that you can listen back to? See what works best for you.

A study partner: While some people may choose to work alone, there are those that like the company. You can bounce ideas off of each other, practice problems together, and give each other honest and open feedback. There are benefits to studying alongside someone. See if this is something that can work for you.

DO NOT OVERSTUDY: Yes, there is such a thing. Your mind needs to process information. Sensory overload can really impact how something is processed into your long-term-memory. Make sure that you are pacing yourself and taking breaks every 45 minutes/hour. 

Reach out to mentors/seniors: It can be helpful to talk to someone who may have taken the exam and passed it. See what was done differently, and perhaps even take away some study tips and tricks from it!

Keep to the positive mindset: Remind yourself that you can do this. Remember the goal you set, and tell yourself that you are doing this for your goal and your dream. Keep in mind one simple thing: there is no failure, only feedback and learning.

Anon, I admire that you are continuing to try and not giving up. Always keep in mind that while you try, it’s important to believe in yourself. Tell yourself that you can and will do this as many times as you need to. That’s all you can really do – and that is more than enough! I wish you all the best in your upcoming exams! You can do this. Stay in your power and good luck!

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