esperanza Magazine for Anxiety & Depression

Growth Opportunity

WHEN IMADE BORHA WAS GROWING UP in North Carolina, she was told her first name—chosen by her Nigerian-born father—means “I will not fail.”

“So it was kind of a challenge having a healthy relationship with failure,” reflects Borha, 31.

The self-described perfectionist abided by the strictures of her religious household, graduated valedictorian of her high school, and studied sociology at esteemed Duke University. But the mindset behind her success includes focusing “too much on what I don’t know and what I get wrong, and not on the things that I get right,” she admits.

Borha has had to learn how to keep from automatically translating temporary setbacks into destructive defeats—not always easy when living with treatment-resistant depression.

Failure can be a tough pill for anyone to swallow. Folks with depression have an even harder time because of low self-worth to begin with and a tendency toward pessimistic interpretations of events.

Then there’s the higher likelihood of personalizing things that go wrong: “I can’t do anything right,” rather than, “So that happened.” Internalizing absolutes about your identity reflects what Carol Dweck, PhD, a prominent researcher into how people react to failure, calls “fixed mindset.”

“Growth mindset,” meanwhile, syncs with a healthier way to view defeat: As a temporary situation, with the chance to do better next time. In this view, personality traits aren’t set in stone. Instead, we

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