Mastering The Fear of Failure
- Posted by wellness
Mastering the Fear of Failure
There is no other emotion as enigmatic as fear, that can act as both a motivator and an inhibitor simultaneously. It can paralyse us, yet it has the potential to propel us forward and transcend our limitations. This intricate dance plays out in our minds often, subconsciously. When we can’t manage our fears, we often feel stuck, unable to progress, and feel anxious or even depressed by their crippling grip. However, if we challenge our perception of fear and reframe our relationship with it, we can use it as a catalyst for personal growth and transformation and address life’s complexities with courage and confidence.
Navigating the labyrinth of fear can be an insurmountable task because fear has a habit of hiding in the deepest, darkest places of our minds. Once we take the time to identify our fears and bring them to light, the hold they have over us begins to diminish. The first step to harnessing its power is to first become aware of exactly which fears you struggle with, fear of rejection, criticism, judgment, failure, success, poverty, the unknown, ill health, old age, death, losing loved ones……and on it goes. Since it is challenging to tackle all of these in one article, let’s take a look at one of the common fears that rob us of living a life of potential, joy, and fulfillment: the fear of failure.
Identify the Origins of Your Fear
Gaining insight into exactly how and when your fear originated takes time and effort. However, this is a very necessary step if you are to master your fears. Look for patterns throughout your life that clearly indicate the fear of failure in this instance. Oftentimes it relates to past experiences, traumatic events, inherited beliefs, or being criticised or punished for making “mistakes”. Consider whether past failures have had a lasting impression on you. Past events do not have to sabotage your present experiences. Understand that the past is something that has already happened and the only thing that can negatively impact you is your perception of it. Moreover, your perception may not correspond to reality and the only way it affects you is if your mind allows it to. Fear is nothing more than False Expectations Appearing Real and when it raises its ugly head, you can be in control of how you respond to it. Here are some tips from us on how best to master the fear of failure:
Shift Your Mindset Around Failure
Instead of viewing failure as something bad or negative, ask yourself what the experience is teaching you, so you can do better next time. This shift in perspective can help you to maintain a positive attitude, create new, healthy coping mechanisms, acquire new skills, and refine your approach to whatever you do. Furthermore, by understanding that failure is a natural part of the learning process and an opportunity to grow and develop, you foster a growth mindset. A growth mindset is having an outlook that is open to possibilities, not a vision that is fixed or stuck in any way. It reinforces continuous learning and development and helps you to embrace challenges, rather than steer away from them. As a result, you can regard failure as a step towards success.
Challenge Your Beliefs Surrounding Failure
Take a few moments for self-enquiry and ask yourself what fuels your fear of failure.
Consider whether you have internalised messages from family members, society, or culture that continue to influence you. Ask yourself whether these are your true beliefs or if is it time to break free from any self-imposed limitations that no longer serve you. Challenge your definition of success and any assumptions you may have about it. Do you have high expectations of yourself and others? Does not living up to your own standards mean that you find it challenging to make decisions? If so, explore what other perspectives on failure might look like and ask yourself whether they are more aligned with your true beliefs. This effort requires patience, courage, self-compassion, and an unwavering commitment to personal growth. As you dismantle old beliefs, new, empowering ones can take their place, paving the way for resilience, innovation, and a renewed sense of self-confidence.
Consider Whether Perfectionism Plays a Role in Your Fear of Failure
Perfectionism and fear of failure often go hand in hand, intertwining in a complex web of self-imposed expectations and unrelenting pressure. Perfectionists harbour an intense desire to excel in all endeavours, setting impossibly high standards for themselves, where failure is often unacceptable and reflects their self-worth. The endless pursuit of perfectionism – which ultimately remains futile because perfection resides on an uncompromising sliding scale – prevents risk-taking, embracing challenges and stifles creativity. Furthermore, self-doubt and the fear of making the wrong choice – circumventing potential failure, criticism, judgment or rejection – often leads to procrastination. Delaying, not prioritizing, or simply not initiating tasks and activities further accelerates a sense of failure.
Set Realistic, Manageable Goals
Often the fear of failure is so stifling that it can push you beyond your natural limits to overachieve. Pursuing unattainable goals can lead to burnout and can have a negative impact on your mental well-being, causing stress and anxiety. Rather than setting yourself up for failure by defining vague or unrealistic goals, be specific and clear about what it is exactly you want to accomplish. Break your goals down into smaller actionable steps, even micro-actions, and address them one at a time. Setting timelines can help you to be more self-disciplined, however, it is also sensible to set flexible timelines. Unexpected setbacks or challenges should not cause you any unnecessary pressure, so factoring in time for these is beneficial. Being realistic about what you can actually achieve with the time, skills, and resources that are available to you, is essential for getting things done and creating a sense of accomplishment.
Focus Less on Outcomes and More on the Process
When you invest all your energy into achieving a particular outcome, it is easy to miss opportunities to improve, expand, explore, and be creative. Focusing on the end result can be pressurising and intensify your fear of failure. However, when you are immersed in the process itself it is easier to acknowledge your progress, especially if you celebrate small achievements or milestones along the way. Moreover, when you are fully present, you can better engage with and enjoy the task at hand, which can ultimately result in improved performance. It is hard to find a more appropriate practice than Mindfulness to help focus on the present moment. Mindfulness – or awareness training as we like to call it – directs your full attention to whatever it is that you do, without judging it or becoming overwhelmed or overly involved in it. The best part about learning mindfulness techniques is that you can insert them into your day-to-day life, without needing to set time aside to practice them.
The fear of failure is deeply rooted and not only prevents us from finding our purpose in life but also obstructs the path to an existence where we can flourish and thrive. If we take a step back from the practical, more tangible strategies to overcome fear we can explore some of its more profound antidotes the likes of trust, hope and faith (a word which we use in a non-religious context). Once we engage with these transcendent forces, we relinquish our need for control and access a boundless source of inner strength and confidence in our own abilities. When fear begins to consume our thoughts, feelings, actions, and behaviours, we can harness it to anchor ourselves in trust, embrace faith as a guiding force and draw upon hope to illuminate the path forward toward a life of joy, freedom, and success.