A fear of failure is one of the biggest reasons we don’t take risks, it can hold us back in life.
But you know, behind every big success there is a whole heap of failures. A whole heap of blips along the way. Do you think Steve Jobs just invented the iPhone and got it right. First time? Nope. Unfortunately, it’s not just inventing mobile phones that have a high ‘trial and error’ factor. Learning anything new inevitably means failing at something, it comes with the territory, but sometimes we learn more from our failures than from our successes. So, why do we all worry so much about failing and how can we get past it, how can we put those niggling doubts to the back of our minds?
No-one likes to fail, and that’s a perfectly natural feeling.
However in some cases, the fear of failure can be an issue that can prevent someone from even trying. When the fear of failure can become that overwhelming and scary, then it is called atychiphobia, and it can feel completely overwhelming.
Each person’s fear of failure is unique to them and where they are in life right now, but the following might help you decide if it’s a problem for you. Have you had a past experience that involves failing publicly so you felt embarrassed?
Or have you been laughed at or felt unsupported when things went badly.
These events can all contribute to low self-esteem or confidence, which in turn can make someone more risk adverse and scared of faint.
Or have you set impossibly high standards for yourself and then fail to meet them, when in reality no-one could ever have met those standards
And finally, do you self-sabotage (allow distractions or excuses to get in the way of doing things you want to do) or experience a ‘mental block’ when you try to move forward. These are all signs that you could fear failure and you could find your levels of anxiety soaring if you do try something new
So what can you do to help overcome your fear of failure?
1. Set goals which are manageable or break them down into smaller, easier steps. This makes the goals feel more achievable and less likely to fail.
2. Consider all the possible outcomes of what you want to do instead of just the negative ones. Think about succeeding and not failing.
3. Identify exactly what you fear about failure – is it shame or being laughed at? Or are you scared of upsetting someone?
4. Be realistic about the results of failing. Make a plan for the worst-case scenario then once you have it focus your attention on more positive things.
5. Look at what you can control in your situation and try to make those elements work as hard has you can.
6. Avoid black and white thinking, where things are either totally successful or a failure. Accept that there are always shades of grey in life and embrace progress as a move in the right direction.
7. Understand that excellence is something to strive for and that perfection may be impossible.
8. Acknowledge the positive aspects of failure and accept that they do exist.
9. Each time you fail try to learn something from it to help you next time. Use failures as a way of learning.
10. Recognise that you’re challenging your fears and be proud that you’re pushing your own boundaries instead of playing it safe. This will help boost your confidence, self-esteem, and overall life experience.
Take inspiration from successful people. Observe them and you’ll see that they do fail, just as often as anyone else and maybe more. They just don’t let it stop them trying, they keep pushing and accept that they can learn from failure.
Fear of failure holds us all back at times, but you can accomplish some amazing things if you’re willing to face it and be the person you always wanted to be.
And if you try all of these steps and you want a bit more help, there may be something more at work than a simple fear of failure. Sometimes anxiety, depression and other health issues can be a factor, so visit your GP or contact Natural Minds about using hypnotherapy to help you