Stop feeling like a failure

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  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

The service is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

English and Spanish are available if you select the option to speak with a national representative. Currently, the 435748 (HELP4U) text messaging service is only available in English.

In 2020, the Helpline received 833,598 calls. This is a 27 percent increase from 2019, when the Helpline received a total of 656,953 calls for the year.

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

The service is confidential. We will not ask you for any personal information. We may ask for your zip code or other pertinent geographic information in order to track calls being routed to other offices or to accurately identify the local resources appropriate to your needs.

No, we do not provide counseling. Trained information specialists answer calls, transfer callers to state services or other appropriate intake centers in their states, and connect them with local assistance and support.

  • Suggested Resources

    What Is Substance Abuse Treatment? A Booklet for Families
    Created for family members of people with alcohol abuse or drug abuse problems. Answers questions about substance abuse, its symptoms, different types of treatment, and recovery. Addresses concerns of children of parents with substance use/abuse problems.

    It's Not Your Fault (NACoA) (PDF | 12 KB)
    Assures teens with parents who abuse alcohol or drugs that, "It's not your fault!" and that they are not alone. Encourages teens to seek emotional support from other adults, school counselors, and youth support groups such as Alateen, and provides a resource list.

    After an Attempt: A Guide for Taking Care of Your Family Member After Treatment in the Emergency Department
    Aids family members in coping with the aftermath of a relative's suicide attempt. Describes the emergency department treatment process, lists questions to ask about follow-up treatment, and describes how to reduce risk and ensure safety at home.

    Family Therapy Can Help: For People in Recovery From Mental Illness or Addiction
    Explores the role of family therapy in recovery from mental illness or substance abuse. Explains how family therapy sessions are run and who conducts them, describes a typical session, and provides information on its effectiveness in recovery.

    For additional resources, please visit the SAMHSA Store.

Last Updated: 08/30/2022

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"I feel like a failure" | PSYCHOLOGIES

Andrey: There is a tangle of thoughts in my head: I am a stupid, unsuccessful person, I have not achieved anything. Although many would consider me lucky - a great job, an apartment, a beloved wife. But the constant feeling of anxiety and uncertainty spoils everything.

Vladimir Dashevsky: You are talking about what worries you. What would you like?

- I still don't fully understand. My current job is not a dream of a lifetime. This is rather a forced step: I graduated from high school, I had to do something, create a family. Look for housing. For me, this is a sore point since childhood, because I have always lived with my parents, grandmother and sister. “Separated” only five years ago. Then I did not think what I want. I just knew that I needed to take care of housing, and I invested in it ... But I have a hobby. nine0005

- Tell me what it is.

- Computer graphics. It is interesting, technological and could generate income. But so far, it hasn't been taken seriously. I even think sometimes: I like it as a hobby, but what if it becomes a full-time job?.. Yes, and I'm afraid to lose money. It's hard to decide.

- Let's do an exercise. I ask you to find five slips of paper and write on them the five things that are most important to you: relationships, objects, people, whatever. One on each sheet. Number them, starting from the end: the fifth is the least important, the first is the most important. nine0005

— So, we need to think... Five important things... A little more... Done!

- Now close your eyes and imagine everything related to number 5. Stay with this thing for a few moments...

- (After 15 seconds) Done!

— Excellent. Now throw out the sheet. Imagine that this thing has disappeared from your life. What changed? Stay with the feeling of loss for a few seconds.

— Yes, it's not easy. Okay, a few seconds... Yes!

- Do the same with the rest of the leaves, one by one: focus on the thing, and then on the fact that it is not there. Don't rush, there is time. What do you feel when number four leaves after number five? And after the fourth - the third? What was life without number two? nine0005

— It's getting harder with every step...

— I understand. There is one leaf left - stay with it as long as you need. And say goodbye. Now take a look inside - what's left?

— Emptiness...

— Now all the leaves are coming back into your life. You can breathe out. Thank you for this exercise. Look at the leaves again. You may want to work on the mistakes - add something, change the numbers.

- Now I'm thinking more deeply.

- Let's discuss. You have been doing the exercise for 10 minutes. Was it easy? nine0005

- Not easy. When you find yourself without anything at all, it is especially sad. As if one shell remained...

- What you described - what does it look like? What associations does it evoke?

- Gray, gloomy sky. There is no sun, heavy clouds do not let light through.

I didn't really like the job, and the only joy was communication with the team, colleagues, customers

— Can you share what you wrote? If you are comfortable.

- I can. In fifth place I put the health that I have now. It's not perfect, of course...

- Like all of us.

— But it would be sad to lose him.

- Fourth place - live communication. And at the same time, awareness of its importance for people. There was a period when I led the direction in the company. I did not really like the work, and the only joy was communication with the team, colleagues, customers. No communication is bad.

— So, what about the third one?

- Ability to manage time. When I know for sure that it is mine.

- Second?

- A state of flow, euphoria from what you are doing. What I really miss in my daily work, which would be great.

— And in first place?

— My family, my wife, with whom we have been together for six years, I do a lot for her sake and would not want to part with her.

- How would you call everything that you wrote on the pieces of paper? In a word?

- Fears, probably. I described the things that I'm afraid of losing. Without them, I would consider life a failure.

— How do you like the word “values”? nine0005

— Yes, these are probably valuables.

- This exercise is just for clarifying values. But not only... You know, Andrey, what you have told is very close to me. Imagine, I'm also from Saratov...

— An amusing coincidence.

— I lived in a communal apartment, and it was also important for me to find my own place to live. And it also seemed to me that, while earning money for the family, I was betraying myself, my aspirations. You were talking about the gray sky above your head...

— When not a single leaf was left. nine0005

— You know, the first time I did this exercise myself, I felt like I was being crushed by a concrete slab. But then it passed, because I realized: I have it. What I wrote that used to seem like something taken for granted - and suddenly became incredibly important.

— Because it can be lost.

Yes. And for me, this exercise is also about death. But about death as a resource.

Sometimes I even blame myself for wasting time on creativity. And could grow in his specialty

- Do something while you can? From these considerations?

- Generally do something while you are alive. We can mourn the past time - or live today, be grateful for the five leaves that we have. I don't know how you can combine creativity with the possibilities that are now available. But this is the most interesting. On the one hand, you would like guarantees...

— Confidence that I will have enough for bread and butter.

— On the other hand, doing something pleasant that absorbs you completely. Be in the flow! The question is how your unconscious will be able to connect these needs. After all, they do not contradict each other. nine0005

- But it seems that they contradict. Sometimes I even blame myself for wasting time on creativity. And he could grow in his specialty. Technology is changing rapidly, and against the background of people who work in this area and focus only on it, I and my interests are somewhere on the sidelines. Although my friends like my pictures...

— Is it important for you to receive praise for what you have done?

Yes, that too.

— And when she's gone, it's like you've done nothing. Behind every action you expect a result, a specific one. Valuable to you, but also valued by others. nine0005

- Yes.

— And what is the result of life in general?

— Only death, apparently.

— Yes, that's what awaits us anyway. The question is what we expect from each of our actions. What is the result of your creativity?

— Beautiful picture, special effects, beautiful 3D model.

Disagree. The result of your creativity is a few hours of happiness. It's like riding a bike. We all know where we're going. But when we pedal with pleasure, we keep our balance. Can you be happy to engage in IT activities, doing it efficiently? nine0005

— In principle, yes.

— If we do something honestly, we feel good both in one process and in another. The result does not belong to us, but the time of our life belongs. You live around the clock. In all areas of life, you are with you. But for some reason you feel uncomfortable. You look at those who are more successful.

— This is a really important topic. There is always someone to compare yourself to. I understand with my head that they have other problems, in some ways they can envy me. But it doesn't help. nine0005

- I want to share with you. Yesterday I swam 50 meters for the first time in a competition. I am 47 years old and I have just started. There were many athletes, better and worse than me. It was my first start, and I called my son there. He is 20 years old, and I remember well how I myself went to his children's competitions. I swam as best I could, made a bunch of mistakes. My son said to me: “I didn’t know that you could do that at all. You jumped, of course, like a snag. But he caught up with those who are in front of you. And for me at that moment the results were not important at all ... And one more story. Remember the movie Andrey Rublev? nine0005

You can go to your goals without devaluing yourself and enjoying what you are doing

— I've looked, but it's been a long time.

There was a boy who was casting the bell. Managed hundreds of people. And so they succeeded, and he lies in the mud and cries. Andrey Rublev comes up: “Why are you crying, you did such a thing, people are grateful to you.” And he says: "Father, the dog, died, but he never told me the recipe for the bell." And you also cast a bell, but you seem to lack a recipe. nine0005

— Lack of discipline, brains...

— But now you are doing what you are capable and ready to do. A new day will bring a new experience, but you live with what you have now. This is also your value - like your five sheets. You can go towards your goals without devaluing yourself and enjoying what you are doing.

- An interesting idea. I rarely allow myself to see things that way.

— Allowing yourself something is not bad. Let's see what will happen next.


Vladimir Dashevsky: The five-leaf exercise is strong and dramatic. For 10 minutes there is a reassessment of the whole life. Andrey, like the hero of Dante, got lost in the "gloomy forest" of doubts, conflicting desires and inner demands. It was important for me to help him clarify his values, to bring them to a conscious level. Working online increased the effect: the distance between us helped Andrey to focus on his feelings during the exercise. At the end of the session, I used a couple of therapeutic metaphors to give the client a chance to see the situation from a different perspective. nine0005

Andrey (in a week): I thought about going to see a psychotherapist for a long time, but kept putting it off. It is difficult to decide on a frank conversation with a stranger. Now I think that such a conversation is exactly what a person who is confused in himself needs. You can’t always look at the situation from the outside when you are under the weight of emotions. The first session allowed me to get a different perspective on my problem. Not solve it, of course. The anxiety hasn't gone away yet. And am I ready now for her to leave completely? After all, it may be a sign that I really should change something in my life. nine0005

Hero name changed.

How to get the first free consultation?

Psychotherapist Vladimir Dashevsky conducts a free consultation every month with one of our readers. If you have long wanted to understand yourself, just fill out an application for participation in the Psychologies special project. You will be convinced that even in one session with a specialist, you can better understand the causes of problems and begin the path to liberation.

Text: Anton Soldatov Photo source: Alexey Neretin

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#productivity, #failure, #life_lessons, #Advice, #personal_growth, #self-development

My inbox is filled with depression.

Every day I get e-mails from people who feel like misfits, but I know for a fact that they are not.

Yes, there is such a thing as a real loser. But this is not the case for most people. However, many of us see ourselves as such. nine0005

Lately I've been noticing a strange trend in society: people feel helpless, worthless and useless.

What happened?

We live in a time of abundance, but people are so mired in negativity that they don't notice it. They are under pressure to "be somebody" and begin to feel like failures if their life is not perfect.

I advocate a healthy level of dissatisfaction as a motivation, but feeling like a failure is not the same as trying and failing. nine0005

My job, if anything, is to inform you of this fact.

You are not failures. You should not identify with failure. I am not saying this to reassure you. I'm serious. Maybe you feel lost, but you can get back on track.

Learn how to do it from someone who knows it firsthand:

• I dropped out of school with three unpaid "credits" and left for an internship. I never went back for my diploma. nine0205 • I used to have a college GPA of 0.0. I wasn't even smart enough to drop out of school. I just didn't attend the classes I paid for.
• I was arrested. I was on probation for five years. I spent several nights in prison.
• At some point in my life, I purposely didn't leave my house, except when I needed to buy drugs or wanted to get drunk.

Now people look at me with respect, which is always strange for me, because I remember that unfortunate version of myself. If only they knew. nine0005

If I can change, so can you, but how?

Why do you feel like a failure

You can't be a failure if you are 20 years old. Well, you can, but it's quite difficult to screw up your life at such a young age.

However, I get tons of messages from young people who feel like failures after living such a short period of their lives. Why?

We have been taught that we should compare ourselves with our peers.

Grades are nothing more than a bar, and an arbitrary one at that, and you can use it to oppose yourself to other members of the society cult. nine0005

Children are exposed to pressure when their brains are not yet fully developed.

You see the madness on the news - Laurie Lawlin is facing decades in prison for bribing universities to accept her child. And it's all about status.

Oh my God. Why do we take our future so seriously?

We live in an era of status, comparison, signaling, curating, filtering. You should go to the best school, get the best grades, vacation in the best places, take the best photos, and live the best life. Otherwise, you are nobody. nine0005

Writers like me sometimes contribute to this too. So much talk about finding your calling and passion. You are under unnecessary pressure to know exactly what to do with your own life. Right now. Or at any other time.

This is a cultural problem. Culture does not allow us to be human.

But the best way to be yourself is to ignore the culture and just... be yourself.

Everything good about you

First, let me start with the following quote:

"We quickly forget that just being alive is an extraordinary stroke of luck, a distant event, an accident of monstrous proportions. " – Nassim Taleb

It always blows my mind when I read it.

Relax. Breathe. You are lucky to be here.

We forget about it so quickly - you and I.

How much life do we miss trying to be successful, keep up with our neighbors, have the perfect social media feed? And all because of the pressure. But for what? We are all happy little atoms in space and time. Flashes on the radar. We all die sooner or later. How can you see yourself as a failure in this context? nine0005

This is not possible. You can only consider yourself a failure when you take life too seriously and forget that you are literally a cosmic miracle. You had a one in a billion chance of being born as a human who had a one in a billion chance of being on a planet that has a one in a billion chance of sustaining life.

You kind of already won, didn't you?

Okay. This approach grounds for a moment. But this is not enough. I know.

The inner critic springs up from the depths of your mind to the fore to tell you how inadequate you are. No amount of thinking about the universe can solve this problem. And then what? nine0005

How can you truly and tangibly stop feeling like a failure?

Marathon mentality

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was raining.

I had to walk 1.5 kilometers from the video store where I worked to the bank to leave an overnight deposit. I didn't have a car. I was 25 years old - the age when you feel like a failure if you do not have a car.

“Don't care,” I thought. I worked as a video store manager making $10 an hour because I didn't want to be a loser anymore. nine0005

At some point, the universe will smile at me.

I walk. Headphones in the ears. Listening to my favorite rapper, the late Nipsey Hussle. I had one song on repeat called 7 Days a Week. One line sang:

“Seize the opportunity, believe it and take control of it. Then start a marathon and do your best until it's over."

I remember how indifferent I was then to the rain - my clothes and shoes were soaked through. I was going to go there, come home, wake up and go to work the next day. It was a marathon. And one day I had to be the winner. nine0005

I saved up enough money to buy a car at auction for $2500 (a car that I still drive, by the way). I left the city in this car for a new job and a new life.

I no longer felt like a failure. So what contributed to these changes?

A few simple things:

• You must find the purest, purest form of satiety. Let it hurt you. I literally screamed: “I don’t want to live like this anymore!”

• At the same time, you must not fall into the trap of self-flagellation. You create the standards by which you will live and feel like winners. My bar was very low — doing a good job for $10 an hour and writing articles after work. That's all I needed to feel worthy. nine0205 After you find something that makes you feel responsible and worthy, repeat it day after day.

The magic formula and the "secret to success" that we all ignore

These are simple recipes. I know.

You want to know the essence.


The wind that will take you away from failures and make you feel good. Magic.

But there is no magic. The process of improving your self-image is messy and requires you to roll up your sleeves. Nobody wants to hear it, and few people really want to talk about it. But I know the weight of what you feel, and you need the strength to overcome it. nine0005

I know what it's like to feel completely paralyzed. Feel sadness, real sadness, because of the mistakes you've made. Mistakes that seem to build a wall around your soul, preventing you from escaping to a better future.

I did it. I read books on self-improvement, went to courses, went through all the stages. Repeat information long enough and it will stick, but ultimately you are the one responsible for the change.

You can free yourself. This will take time. It won't happen today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, but there will come a time when you look at your old self and no longer feel like a failure. You will feel that that version of you does not exist. nine0005

You will rediscover yourself.

From the ashes you will rise

I am a great connoisseur of symbolism, narratives, archetypes.

One of my favorites is the Phoenix, so I opened one of my books about it:

“In many ancient societies, the Phoenix was a symbol of strength and rebirth.

He lived for hundreds of years. When he began to feel weak, he burst into flames.

Being consumed by fire, the phoenix rose from the ashes and began a new life.

In a way, you can be like a Phoenix.

You can start over and live a new life. You can let the fire consume your old self and rise again from the ashes.”

What's done is done. The "unsuccessful" part of your life should be different. You will "kill" this "I".

You feel like a failure because you carry so much of the past with you. Despising the past, you cling to it because it is familiar to you. You want to change, but you are attached to what was. This strategy won't work. nine0005

There is no rule that you should be attached to your past. This is what society tells you. Noise.

When you really change, you lose yourself, that centered base that keeps you hanging but comfortable.

Good news? On the other side of death, your new "I" can be born from a pile of ashes. You can burn yourself to the ground and start over. I did so.

Moving from the esoteric to the pragmatic, let's talk about some practical ways to help you stop feeling like a failure. nine0005

The Basics of Self-Improvement

Boring and banal self-improvement advice is actually the best.

These are things like:

• 8 hours of sleep
• Exercising three times a week
• Reading 30 minutes a day

These activities help to work from the outside. When you improve the quality of your mind and body, it's hard to feel like a failure.

I remember a year when I read about 50 books. I was still broke, but spending my time studying didn't make me feel like a failure.

Learn more