Does the vision of failure stop you from moving toward your goal? Do you feel like that anxiety causes you to miss out on great opportunities? Do you tend to focus on the potential losses rather than possible wins? If yes, you might be struggling with the fear of failure.
It can have a tight grip on your life, paralyzing and preventing you from chasing your dreams. However, the courage to dream big is gained by stepping outside of your comfort zone and embracing the uncertainty and adventure that come with it.
In this blog post, we discuss the fear of failure, its causes, its impact, and the cultural understanding of failure itself. Read on to find ways to redefine failure and learn how to overcome your fear of failure on the journey of self-development.
Our culture is obsessed with attaining success, whether in the form of social status, fame, or money – there is no question about it. We spend our lives in pursuit of those big goals, gaining knowledge and experience, setting new challenges, and putting the entirety of our efforts into achieving them.
The thing is, an essential part of succeeding is… failing. And it baffles me how we don’t talk about that. We don’t focus on the nature of failure, how to build a positive mindset around it, or the skills necessary to cope and learn from failing in a healthy way. In fact, we’d rather avoid dealing with failure to the point of developing a paralyzing fear, which, when left unchecked, can cause a lot of harm in our lives.
So how does it work exactly? What are its causes? And how to overcome your fear of failure?
Fear of failure essentially boils down to the negative belief that you are not capable of achieving success due to insufficient skills, knowledge, intelligence, etc. It can take on different forms, relating either to a specific situation or someone’s life in general. Because this fear is usually quite irrational, overwhelming, and persistent, it profoundly influences our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. You can observe it in:
If you engage in these behaviors, don’t be ashamed. Your fear of failure is just an attempt at protecting yourself from any pain, regret, embarrassment, shame, or disappointment that might come with not achieving success. It’s a natural and common struggle for many people. Yet, if unaddressed, down the line, it leads to:
If you’d like to learn how to overcome your fear of failure, it can be quite helpful to ask yourself: “What does failure mean to me?“.
Very often, what feeds our fear of failure is how we’re taught to define it. In our society, failure is commonly viewed as something wrong, unwanted, something to avoid. No wonder we feel inclined to interpret our mistakes or errors as proof of our shortcomings, inabilities, and lack of sufficient skills. Naturally, those thoughts influence our beliefs and lower our self-esteem. Since we don’t know how to cope with failure in a healthy way, we usually end up:
The funny thing is – beauty is in the eye of the beholder, is it not? You don’t have to buy into this definition of failure. It clearly doesn’t make things easier, only more intimidating and scary. You can build your very own interpretation of failure, which can support you and foster motivation and courage to chase your dreams.
What if you changed your perception of failure?
What if you started treating it as an invaluable source of information, a learning experience that can help you figure out what works and what doesn’t on your journey to success?
Imagine treating failure as an essential piece of feedback that allows you to adjust the course of your sail rather than feeling ashamed upon arriving at a different destination…
Imagine, after failing, staying curious about the lessons coming from it rather than disposing of the experience altogether?
“Failure is not a step backwards.
It’s an excellent stepping stone to success.”– William Arruda
Essentially, I believe it all comes down to acknowledging and accepting the fact that pain is an inevitable part of our lives. In the same way that there cannot be light without darkness, there cannot be success without failure. Embracing that truth can prove exceptionally useful while learning how to overcome your fear of failure. Here’s a list of tips that can allow you to step out of your comfort zone and dare to dream bigger:
The main obstacle that may stand between you and your dream is, most probably, your fear of failure. Denying, avoiding it, or pushing it away will only make that feeling stronger and more persistent, yet you have the power to change that situation should you choose to recognize, accept and embrace this fear. After all, it’s a natural emotion. Besides, true courage isn’t about not feeling fear at all. It’s about moving forward despite experiencing any distress or anxiety.
A hard pill to swallow: you will (most probably) fail while pursuing your goals… and that is perfectly fine.
Yes, it’s unsettling, and it can make you feel embarrassed or ashamed. It is in such moments that it’s absolutely imperative to remember that:
„Try again. Fail again. Fail better”– Samuel Beckett
Due to the process of evolution, the human brain is wired to spot dangers and negative aspects of life, even the potential ones. It’s called negativity bias, and you can spot it in the innate tendency to think of the worst-case scenario first or proneness to focus on the potential losses rather than opportunities. You can balance the negativity bias by engaging in activities such as:
You can set an intention of becoming your own number 1 fan. Rather than dragging yourself down, choose to lift your spirits up.
Simply start by shifting from thinking: “What if this ends up in a disaster?” to asking yourself: “What if I achieve tremendous success?“.
We spend so much time either worrying about the future or dwelling on the past that we barely ever fully experience our life, right here, right now. Mindfulness helps us find balance and connect to the present moment. Instead of stressing out about things outside of your control, you can focus your energy on what you can change, for example, your mindset and behavior. Start by connecting to your breath, which will foster anxiety relief and increase your self-awareness:
Instead of pushing the experience of failure away, pay extra attention to it, and figure out how it might help you and what lesson it can teach you. Maybe your failure is actually a start of an exciting adventure, a spark for your creativity, a shift happening in your life, simply an adjustment to the course you should take, or an opportunity to get to know yourself even more.
“Failures stop us only if we let them.”– MindTools Team.
While it’s reasonable to be realistic in life, we shouldn’t lose our ability to set big goals or give up on our dreams. In order to learn how to overcome your fear of failure, you will need to find the courage that is located outside of your comfort zone, in a place of uncertainty, waiting for you to discover it. Taking one step at a time perfectly bridges the gap between concrete reality and dreamy fantasy. If you’d like to start your journey, you can do so with the assistance of Cassie Rose, the CEO of Dwen-Day.
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