Is the fear of failure stopping you from achieving the success you always wanted to? Is it something you are unable to get rid of? Do you not understand why you’re having the fear of failure?
You may be surprised when I tell you this, but we all experience the fear of failure. No body is immune to fearing failure because at some point we all want to be as perfect as we can.
So, fear of failure is very common to most people. We all have that little voice inside our heads that pulls us back into our comfort zone just because we are afraid to fail and lose our self-confidence, or to most of us, our social status.
The thing about fearing failure is that if you think about it, it is pointless. Think about it! When you stop yourself from doing something out of the fear of failing, you are just stopping success, not failure.
Every thing you do in life is connected to success and failure. So you can not completely avoid failure but you are stopping yourself to become successful. This is why I find it to be pointless.
The worst thing is when you choose to fail in front of yourself but not in front of others. – Reem ShamsTweet This!
You need to conquer fear in order for you to grow. Without that, you will be stuck in your place and not achieve anything special in your life.
Why do we fear failure? What causes it?
Have you ever asked yourself this question? What is causing you to fear failure? I mean we all “understand” that there is no need for any of us to fear failure because, in reality, failure is subjective. It will stop us from many things that can make a huge positive difference in our lives. But why do people fear failure?
The most common reason is that we don’t want to go through the emotional pain accompanying the failure we would experience. It can be hurting our ego, losing our self-esteem, making someone disappointed in us, etc.
While that is the number one reason why we experience the fear of failing, I want you to think about all possible causes that can lead to this feeling. Here are some of the causes of fearing failure that I gathered in order to help you identify where it is coming from.
The Shame of Rejection
Who accepts rejection? No one! To some, rejection can take a toll on their mental health and cause them to enter the dark hole of depression. Most people feel ashamed when they are rejected because of how they view themselves and their value. This brings them shame and that’s what people are trying to avoid.
Experienced failure trauma
It can be possible that the person fearing failure had experienced a traumatic incident of something he/she failed in before. In most cases, such people need to undergo counseling in order to overcome the failure trauma they experienced in the past. After that, they can work on their way to overcome the fear of failure in general.
To avoid sabotaging self-confidence
Although it shouldn’t be this way, people fear failure because of how it can affect their self-confidence. They want to take risks and challenges without failing in any of them so it won’t sabotage their belief in their capabilities.
Wounding their ego
Ego is one of the most dangerous characters in a person. If not maintained well enough, it will be very difficult for you to balance your life. It illudes the person into believing that getting hurt or experiencing failure is just not acceptable. This way, it will avoid anything risky and the idea of failing to avoid humiliation.
Preserving social status
Some of you may see this to be a silly thing to mention but people are really too worried about their social status when they fail at something. They are too worried of the way people perceive them when they do something that they can fail in. These kind of people build their life goals based on what people want or on what people would like them to be.
I have talked about this in a previous blog post, that perfectionism can be a side effect of the fear of failure. People would just want to be perfect in everything they do in order to avoid failing at any of them.
Critical and unsupportive parents
This is more common than you think. Sometimes parents are not supportive when it comes to their child’s failure. They start criticizing him/her about the fact that they failed and even scold them for failing in the first place. This kills their motivation to grow and learn from their failures and builds low self-esteem and rejection towards failure. As they grow, it becomes an ingrained bias that is not easy to overcome.
How to stop being afraid of failure?
One thing you should know before trying to overcome your fear of failure is that you are not the only one. I know I said this above, but I want you to believe that it is true. Each one of us have the fear of failing to a certain limit. In fact, it is not a bad thing to fear failure because it can act as a motivation to do the best you can to succeed.
The problem arises when you stop trying to succeed in the name of the fear of failure. This is when you should be doing something about it. You have to try to overcome it when it is controlling your progress.
If you are someone with the fear of failure, I want you to take a pen and paper and write down each of the points I am sharing below. You need to evaluate each point and work your way on bursting out of the fear-of-failure bubble.
Identify the root cause
You can’t overcome something you can not understand what is causing it. To overcome the fear of failure, you have to figure out where is this fear coming from exactly. Look at the causes I mentioned above. Is it one of them? A number of them?
If it is not one of the above, think about why it is causing this. Imagine a situation that would make you feel scared about failing or a past experience of such. Then deeply think about what can be causing this feeling. WHY are you fearing failure?
When you identify the root cause, you can then work your way into overcoming it by working on that exact cause.
Ask yourself these 20 questions and answer them honestly so you can identify your fear and work on your first step to overcome it.
Now that you have found the root cause, reprogram your mind to truly comprehend the definition of failure. By definition, failure means “absence or lack of success”. Fearing the “absence of success” should be the sole motivation to reach success.
Think about it! If you fear failure then you are fearing the absence of success. If you want to overcome this, then you need to make success present; and success doesn’t come just because you invited it. In fact, it doesn’t come at all. You need to walk your way to it for it to be part of your life.
So, understand what failure means to you and then redefine its meaning to the actual interpretation.
Think of it as a learning process
The only way to avoid redundancy in your mistakes is to learn from each one of them. So don’t ever fear to fail because it will teach you to become better than the time before you failed.
If we focused on when is it that we truly fear to fail, mostly, it is not when we have experienced it before. It is when we want to accomplish something from the first attempt. We just wanna get things right the first time we attempt it. If it didn’t work out, BOOM! fear of failure triggered.
You shouldn’t feel that failing on something means that you are not good enough. Instead, it is a learning process for you to become even better.
Examine all outcomes; especially worst-case scenarios
Before backing up from moving forward with accomplishing your goal, examine all your possible outcomes. Positive or negative, doesn’t matter. Take a minute to examine both the best and worst-case scenarios. The main thing is to look into and visualize all potential outcomes.
This way you will be mentally prepared to face all possible outcomes to achieve your goal. Don’t let uncertainty control your outcomes. Be open to challenge and try to achieve what you want without focusing on just a single angle.
Focus on setting achievable goals
I notice that some people have the tendency to create avoidable goals rather than achievable goals. They believe that they know what goals they should achieve and don’t need to write them down. Instead they choose to write the things they want to avoid in order to achieve their goals.
Psychologists prove that whatever you write is whatever sticks to your mind. If you write all negative stuff, that’s what your mind will focus on; even though it is the things you want to avoid.
So instead of writing avoidable goals, it is better to write achievable goals. This way you will make sure you focus on the positive goals rather than the negative ones. With this approach, you will have a higher probability to achieve the goals you wish to accomplish.
Have multiple plan Bs
Does this subtitle make sense? Yes, it does! What I mean by multiple plan Bs is to plan a solution for different outcomes.
Now they always say have a plan B to back up your initial plan. But I always ask myself, why only plan for plan B? Why isn’t there an opening to plan for plan C, D, E, F…all the way till Z? I know I am making sense here, right?
If it took Thomas Edison 1,000 attempts to finally build a lightbulb prototype in his 1,001st attempt, then to plan 26 different attempts to achieve my goal just doesn’t seem unfair and depressing to me. In fact, if you are too committed to your goal, you would probably be the next Thomas Edison.
Face failure with a positive attitude
This may sound unrealistic to you especially when you remember how you feel when you experienced failure, but when you lack disappointment when faced with failure, you will see how positively it impacted your life.
I want you to keep something in mind. There is no obstacle or struggle that we can go through without it having a positive impact on our life. We may not see it yet, but there always is; even when it is a gruesome experience.
So every time you fail, be upset for some time (that’s your right) and later look at the situation from a positive perspective. Consider it as an opportunity to view failure with a positive attitude. The lesson you figure out at this point will increase your clarity in finding another way through your process.
Focus on what you CAN control
When you have a clear vision of what you can control and what you can’t, your fear of failure reduces. This is because you know what to consider to be in your control and what is not.
This again comes in line with the fear of uncertainty. If your goal outcome is something you can control, then it is great. You can plan on the different possible outcomes like I said above and there will be no need to fear failure because you have other options to pursue.
If it is not something you can control, then again there is no point in fearing failure. Regardless of how much you fear failure, the results are just unknown. So the best you can do is work your best and leave the rest to the unknown.
Recite those fear overcoming affirmations
Whenever you start to experience the fear of failure and it is clouding your judgment on whether to take the journey to reach your goal or not, try to repeat these affirmations (that I got from motivationping.com) to help you get back to feeling better about your fear.
- I am doing the best I can.
- I will succeed no matter what.
- I have nothing to fear from failure.
- Failure to try is the only failure there is.
- I am courageous enough to take chances.
- The road to success is being paved for me.
- My confidence in my abilities continues to grow.
- I release my fear of failure because I am motivated by my passion.
I know that most of us experience failure and it sometimes discourages us to try another attempt. This shouldn’t be the case at all. Fear of failure shouldn’t stop you from moving forward with pursuing your goal.
The main thing is that you need to identify its root cause, redefine your perspective on the meaning of failure, and learn from it. This way you can set all the possible outcomes that can help you refrain from the disappointment you would feel when you fail.
Thank you for reading till the end 🙂
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Do you experience the fear of failure? If so, what motivates you to overcome it? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.