How to not “Handle your Sh*t”

Risper Wanja Njagi
7 min readNov 11, 2022


“Fail forward. Fail better” Who hasn’t heard those words at least once in their lives? And yet many of us keep failing, the same way we failed the last times. Well, this article is here to share from recent experiences how NOT to react when you find yourself in difficulties or in a place where you have failed.

However, before I continue, I am sure you may be curious why I am sharing about failure, and how NOT to handle it.

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Well, the truth is that I have had what you would call a toxic relationship with failure(in specific things). You know those toxic relationships? You know it is not good for you, and yet you stay. You know what is harming you, and yet for some reason you do not move? You can tell what is not working, and yet you keep staying? You can sense in your heart of hearts that something is wrong, even if you cannot tell precisely what that is… I think that is how I would describe my relationship with failure. We have been like close friends who hate each other but don’t move away from each other because what is the alternative? Making new friends all over again?!

But what is this failure I am referring to? Here is our first lesson on How TO handle your shit:


The first and best ever lesson I picked from a Lapid Leaders Class on emotional awareness is that “What you can name, you can tame”. This phrase basically means that the first way to addressing an issue is first identifying it. You cannot treat for a headache if you do not know that what’s ailing you is a headache. The emotional awareness class was about emotional well being, so naturally we named emotions. The instructor challenged us first to describe how we were without using the answers “Okay, fine, well, good”. Yeah, you tell me, how would you respond if you do not use those words? We used this “wheel of emotions” diagram to identify how we were feeling, and I have to say the outcome was enlightening. Some people found that what they mean by “fine” was that they were feeling accomplished, or feeling disappointed, or feeling optimistic but fearful … all things we only identified after DELIBERATELY SPENDING TIME IDENTIFYING how we exactly felt.

Thus, the first thing I encourage us to do when handling our “shit” is, identify what exactly you feel you are failing at. Is it leaving an old habit. Is it inability to keep time? Is it keeping friends or lack of it? Is it failing a certain class in school?

Personally I have noted that my biggest failure has been around habit formation, both letting go of old ones and having the patience and endurance to form new ones.

However, I have noted that concluding that I am GENERALLY failing has been more demoralizing that the failures themselves. Why is this the case? Because when you generalize yourself as a failure you demoralize yourself even in things you are doing well. GENERALIZING yourself as a failure breaks the very core of you being. You start your day discouraged, and no matter what you do, the “general failure” thought in your subconscious often makes you feel inadequate. It makes you feel like nothing you do measures up to whatever expectations you have.

GENERALIZING also makes you lose sight of things worth celebrating in your life. IF YOU ARE “GENERALLY A FAILURE” you fail to see yourself for who you truly are- you have a poor habit in communication but you are also really good with people. You may have no clarity about what you want but you do know what you care about. You may not like your work environment but you are good at the work. The danger in generalizing is that it makes you feel there is nothing worth being grateful for in your life, and that is simply untrue. So, IDENTIFY. Name the exact “failures”, even if the list may be long, at least you will know what to work on, as opposed to generally walking around feeling defeated.


This one is tough, for me at least, because if withdrawing and isolating from people was something you earn a badge of honor from, I would be queen. I am extremely extroverted; at least that is what the last personality test I took suggests. However, I have often dealt with things by isolating. See, if I were an introvert, may be that strategy would have worked, but being naturally extroverted means that isolating from people and responsibilities in general drains me, not recharge me. Self awareness does play a role in how we handle issues, perhaps you too should consider whether your coping mechanisms are even compatible with your personality. However, at the risk of sounding ignorant at what exactly works for extroverts or introverts, the one thing I can tell from my experience is IT GETS WORSE IN ISOLATION.

Lets say you are struggling with paying bills, or are having an existential crisis (questions of identity and purpose), or have a family issues, or have a harmful habit (say drugs/ too much tiktok/Instagram ) you are trying to stop… I can assure you from my personal experience, your problems become even worse in isolation.

I have isolated enough to know that isolation harms you more in everyway. You lose relationships, credibility with others, faith in yourself, your mental health deteriorates, and worst of all, when you come back from isolation, it not only feels but is an uphill task of rebuilding your relationships all over again. Not to mention, for those familiar with ghosting/isolating/withdrawing from society to “handle shit”, one also struggles with shame, regret and guilt of having isolated. So instead of helping, the isolation harms even worse.

However, I have failed enough, and handled my specific failures often by ghosting, and yet gone ahead to repeat the same in a future event, to know that we are not motivated by negative information.

THIS IS JUST A SIDE TIP, we respond better to positive information as human beings. And this applies to habits too. For example, I am better motivated to write and publish when I tell myself that I am doing it because I am talented, that writing to “not become a forgotten and irrelevant writer”. You are better of keeping time to feel good about yourself as a persona capable of keeping time, than trying to keep time “to avoid looking bad”/ “To look like a good time keeper”. This is good knowledge, but the best thing is to actually try it, see how it works.

Anyways, back to isolating. Just to state it plainly, no amount of withdrawal will solve your problems. Isolating only provides our minds more room to amplify “the problems”. I have put “the problems” in quotes because isolation does also cause a perspective problem, where one can view a solvable issue as insurmountable. Personally I have found isolating even more counter-productive because when you come back from such episodes, whatever issue you avoided dealing with will still be there, so isolation does tend to prolong our issues. I once heard this Quote on a speech about ghosting by T.D. Jakes , “You cannot win if you are not [even] in the game [in the first place]emphasis mine. The reason why we withdraw, or ghost or isolate is to solve a problem, yes? However, how can you solve it if you are not even present ? Lets make this a partnership, you and I, where are we out of the game yet expect to win?

Anyhow, given that now I know that knowing the negative effects of a habit like isolating/ghosting/withdrawal may not necessarily stop one from isolating again in future, think about what being connected to others does to you:

Staying connected gives us a sense of belonging, it gives us a sense of security, you feel loved when you long, you feel worthy when you feel like you belong, you are supported when you stay close to others, and your relations are made richer for it. Someone who feels loved, supported and like they belong is stronger and more optimistic, even of their capacity to handle any life issues. Not to mention that, when you stay connected with others, you may even find some in your networks who have gone through the same things as you, and help you handle it better, shorter.

And thus comes the end of today’s article. Two ways How to “handle your shit”, specifically identify what the problem is, and stay connected to others no matter what. How NOT to “handle your shit”: Please STOP GENERALIZING. AND regardless of how shameful(and thus hard to confess to others and get help) or “small”( and thus your mind tells you you can handle it all by yourself) your specific problem is, DO NOT ISOLATE YOURSELF.

AND because I love you, I will add one last thing, an extra why I have written this article. I was reading and found out that one way to “Learn from Failure” is by sharing lessons you have learned from your own failures. It will be hard for you to see the good or lessons in your failure, especially immediately after the specific failure, but advising other people in similar situations helps you see what you may have learnt from your own experience. So today, I encourage you to seek out people going through challenges you have been through and give back a bit, you may be surprised how much more positive and grounded you will both be and feel after sharing. Alternatively, just look for a place to give back what you have and can give freely, even if not directly related to your problem, it may remind you of just how much value you have to give, and automatically renew your energy to face even the biggest challenge.



Risper Wanja Njagi

I writing about re-finding ourselves, and everything in between; trauma, rejection, acceptance, healing, mental health