I've developed over the years an attachment to social media, which I've many, many times tried to break. I'm starting to suspect it is because there's no problems when things go well, but when I fail, I automatically blame myself and get discouraged and give up.

For Buddhists, is there any specific view or attitude to adopt towards failure? Something that would allow one to cope with such discouragement? I feel many factors are involved.

Thank you

  • In case it matters, wasn't sure I understood the second sentence -- but now I think it's saying, that the reason why you "try many times" (i.e. haven't succeeded finally) is that when you fail (to break your attachment) then you "automatically blame myself and get discouraged and give up".
    – ChrisW
    May 23, 2021 at 16:11
  • I guess I was trying to say that the blaming and discouragement and giving up is causing the failure. If I didn't blame myself, or get discouraged, I'd preserve my motivation and keep trying to abandon my attachment to social media.
    – user7302
    May 23, 2021 at 16:18

4 Answers 4


Both Eterna's and asd123's answers are good advice. I will say though, with regards to asd123's advice, that although one should certainly embrace those feelings and not be afraid or angry or upset at them, don't indulge them and fall into a pit of self pity. Respect them but don't let them drown you.

Failure is natural, we all make mistakes, learn from them. Maybe it was good that you made this or that mistake, maybe it was a lesson that you needed to learn which will help you in the future. Maybe this failure now will lead to success in the future you otherwise wouldn't have. To quote Ajahn Brahm: "good, bad, who knows?".

I am not sure I understood your question correctly, but it seems you are also dealing with social media addiction? If you are relapsing, try to think about why that happens, get to know the rationalizations your mind offers. Think of reasons not to give in to them, and have those reasons on the tip of your tongue. Are you getting a lot of urges? Then sit for a bit and meditate, clear your mind, remember impermanence and suffering (as Eterna said).

Not sure if this last part is what you were looking for, maybe you could clarify your question? Are you saying that failure in other parts of life is causing you to relapse to your social media addiction, or is it the failure to stay away from social media that bothers you?

  • I guess what I meant has been addressed in the answers. Judging myself for having failed intensifies my experience of failure. It causes me to get discouraged and to self-sabotage. There are many addictive behaviours that I experience which share the same pattern of failure and relapse.
    – user7302
    May 25, 2021 at 17:30

For Buddhists, is there any specific view or attitude to adopt towards failure?

First of all, don't be too hard on yourself. We are all failures here in Samsara.

The Buddhist way to deal with this is to be mindful of the thoughts and feelings that arise. We use the Four Foundations of Mindfulness which encompass The Five Aggregates. They're the primary field of work when practicing Vipassana meditation.

Try to be mindful of the thoughts and feelings and you will come to see the Three Marks of Existence and (part of) Dependent Origination (Paṭiccasamuppāda)

Most important thing is to do consistent meditation practice in order for the mind to see things clearly. When that happens the majority of our "problems" will subside.

May you have a fruitful practice.


Why would you want to cope with those feelings? Feeling bad about failure is the whole point! It makes you less likely to do it again. Embrace those feelings. They are a gift that will help lead you to further success.


I read of a modern experiment: two groups of children are given a task, and afterwards one is praised for how well/successfully they did it, and the other is praised for how much effort/attention they put into it. Then they're given another, more difficult task -- the children who were praised for their success would get discouraged and give up ("I can't succeed, so no point in trying"), and the children who were praised for their effort persevered.

Similarly it might be worth mentioning that Buddhism promotes "Right Effort".

According to the Vinaya, I think that most "failures" (to keep the rules) are considered "faults of confession" and so on -- i.e. a monk confesses the fault and then continues.

Another doctrine I learned of pre-school teachers, is that you should criticize or redirect bad behaviour, not condemn the child -- so you'd say, "You mustn't hit people when you're angry, use your words", and not say, "You're a bad boy (or bad girl)".

Similarly according to Buddhism it might help to not identify with failure -- say, "this is misbehaviour", not, "I am a failure", and not "this is my failure".

There's a sutta, AN 7.61 which lists about a dozen ways to overcome drowsiness, along the lines of, "Try this, maybe that'll work. And if that doesn't work? Then try this other method. (etc.)"

That reminds me of what medical doctors do, incidentally.

Another Buddhist doctrine is that things arise because of conditions -- so if you want to change what arises, perhaps change the conditions -- who you're with, where you are, and so on.

For example I avoid junk food by not buying it -- so it doesn't exist where I live, conditions don't exist for my being tempted by it. Perhaps to a similar effect, Buddhist doctrine recommends "seclusion". A social media web site might be harder to "cut off" if you have internet access at all for some reason, but you can (and I do) edit the computer's configuration so that it can't access certain web sites that I might otherwise use excessively (I do this by editing the "etc/hosts" file, you can also do it using "parental control" software).

Another useful technique might be substitution -- instead of trying to "eliminate" something harmful, try to replace it with something more beneficial.

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