Feeling the pain of failure leads to more effort to correct your mistake than simply thinking about what went wrong, according to a new study.

Researchers found that people who just thought about a failure tended to make excuses for why they were unsuccessful and didn’t try harder when faced with a similar situation. In contrast, people who focused on their emotions following a failure put forth more effort when they tried again.

“All the advice tells you not to dwell on your mistakes, to not feel bad,” said Selin Malkoc, co-author of the study and professor of marketing at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.

“But we found the opposite. When faced with a failure, it is better to focus on one’s emotions—when people concentrate on how bad they feel and how they don’t want to experience these feelings again, they are more likely to try harder the next time.”

While thinking about how to improve from past mistakes might help—this study didn’t examine that—the researchers found that people who reflect on a failure do not tend to focus on ways to avoid a similar mistake.

When asked to think about their mistakes, most people focus on protecting their ego, Malkoc said. They think about how the failure wasn’t their fault, or how it wasn’t that big of a deal, anyway.

“If your thoughts are all about how to distance yourself from the failure, you’re not going to learn from your mistakes,” she said.

– Jeff Grabmeier

Read More: Want to rebound from failure? Feel the pain

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