Students experiencing academic setbacks often suffer from it. It can have negative effects on self-esteem, create anxiety and cause distress in the student’s life. But why are failure and academic self-esteem linked in the first place? Students sometimes tend to rely their self-esteem on comparing their own performance to the performance of peers or to ideal standards. As you can imagine, experiencing setbacks can have severe effects on this perceived self-esteem.
But ask yourself: Are you less worth, because of receiving a subpar grade? Does your academic performance define you as a human being? How would you react if a friend would be down because of a bad grade? You would probably support them, cheer them up and show them that it doesn’t mean the world. This kind behavior can be considered compassion. And when facing failure, you can encounter yourself with the same kind of compassion. This self-compassion can result in relief of anxiety and in using functional coping strategies.
Studies have shown that students who show self-compassion after receiving disappointing grades are more likely to exhibit intrinsic motivation, show more confidence in their competences and can see failure as part of the process of learning. They suffer less from anxiety and their positive self-worth is more robust to setbacks because they engage in more functional coping strategies.
So, what are you going to do next time you’re experiencing an academic setback? Drown in self-pity or be kind to yourself and be aware of the fact that you are more than your GPA?