Understanding Our Fear of Failure
So who loves failure? Everybody right? <insert sarcasm here, lol>
Today’s topic is regarding failure and the universal human emotion of fear we have attached to failure; and most importantly how we can shift our perception of failure to no longer view as a negative experience but rather a positive experience.
By understanding what causes your fear of failure, you can stop allowing it to paralyze you from reaching your goals and instead use failure as a learning opportunity and stepping stone to success!
It Scares Us, Like Really Bad
So the thought of failing usually scares the living bejeezus out of most people! This can at least be people’s first natural reaction which is totally normal. There are many psychological reasons that can cause people’s underlying fear of failure which I’m going to cover. Remember from the prior blog and podcast regarding this topic – all human beings have fear.
Fear is a universal human emotion, so please know it doesn’t make you weak to experience these emotions associated with fear of failure. Quite contrary my friends, understanding these emotions and why you are feeling a certain way makes you quite powerful in deed. Because once you understand what is causing fear and the blockage on your path to your goals, you can more easily clear it out of your way and sky rocket ahead to your vision.
The Psychological Lowdown
So let’s first understand some of the potential psychological causes of our fear of failure so that we can then conquer them:
- Shame– So the first subject which can cause fear of failure has to do with the universal human emotion of shame. So we can basically feel afraid of what other people will think about us if we fail at what we set out to achieve. This has to with our pride and our self esteem. In other words, we may fear feeling embarrassed by failure.
- The Unknown– The second cause has to do with the unknown. There is a lot of uncertainty with failure, and our minds are programmed to fear the unknown which was covered in the prior podcast Into The Unknown To Conquer Fear. Our minds are wired this way for survival. We can’t always avoid it, but it’s important to be aware of it.
- Self-Worth– The third cause for fear of failure has to do with our perceived self-worth. We can have a fear of failure because we may be afraid if we fail at something we set out to achieve then that will mean we are not good enough or worthy enough. Ouch. Not true, but ouch.
- Being Kicked Out of the Tribe– The fourth cause for fear of failure is related to our fear that we will become irrelevant to others if we fail. We can fear that others will turn their backs on us and want nothing to do with us if we so called fail at something. We can fear we will be ostracized for our failures, or kicked out of the tribe so to speak.
- Disappointing Others– The fifth cause for fear of failure can be our fear of disappointing others. We fear we will let other people down if we fail, especially those that we really care about or respect.
- Here Comes DEFCON1 Scenarios– And the last cause for fear of failure can be our fears of all the things that can go wrong tangibly if we fail. We fear we will lose money. We fear we will lose our job. We fear we will lose an opportunity or a promotion. We fear we will get the bubonic plague and be on a clear liquid diet of nothing but egg yokes for the rest of our lives. Hey I never said these were rational fears! The list goes on and on. These are usually those DEFCON1 worst case scenario fears our brain wants to tell us as explained in Into The Known We Go. Yeah thanks brain, make sure you make up some worst case scenarios to add on top of everything else. Appreciate it.
Knowledge is Power
So holy moly, those are some deep psychological emotions we are dealing with regarding failure. This is why it is natural to fear failure when our brain can tell us we have so much emotionally and in the physical world on the line when we are wanting to achieve a goal.
Fortunately you may not be feeling all of these fears with each decision you make or each goal you set (that’s a relief!). It may be only one or two of these fearful emotions of failure depending on the nature of the decision or the goal. I still want to cover them all so you know where to look depending on how you are feeling. After all knowledge is power!
So now that we have the knowledge, what do we do with it? How do we conquer our fears of failure?
Mindset is Everything
So it will ultimately depend on the category in which your fear lies on how you will conquer the fear. However no matter where the fear is lurking, it’s all about the mindset.
Our thoughts create emotions, emotions create actions and our actions will ultimately drive our results. So we first off want to understand that concept.
If you are feeling negative emotions that are blocking you from being the best version of yourself and trapping you in a state of fear, try to trace those feelings or emotions to the thoughts which are causing them. Then realize you have the full power to change your thoughts and create the positive emotions that you DO want to feel. So that’s the first thing. It takes practice, but you can absolutely do it! You get to decide who you want to be. You don’t have to be the same person you were yesterday. You absolutely have that freedom.
You Can’t Live Your Life for Others
When it comes to the fears about how others will think about us, how they might turn their backs on us or how we might disappoint them; you can not live your life for other people. You must be authentic to yourself and give yourself the self love that you deserve. Once you embrace this, the right people who love you for YOU will come into your life and the other ones will eclipse out. That can be painful, but it’s not as painful as not being true to yourself. If someone turns their back on you because you so called fail, consider yourself blessed that you don’t have that person in your life anymore and move on with your amazing self!
You Are Enough. Period.
As far as not being enough, you are born enough. You will always be enough. Nothing you do or don’t do will ever change this. Period. So go ahead and eliminate that one off the list right quick. All you have to do is believe this because it’s the truth.
Take It On the Chin Like The Bad Boss That You Are
The shame one can be a little challenging sometimes. We all experience the emotion of shame as living breathing human beings, and it’s a pretty wretched feeling to be honest. But it’s just a feeling, and you can’t let it stop you from setting your goals, growing and reaching your highest visions in life.
Here’s the honest truth. You are going to fall down sometimes. You are going to get your butt kicked sometimes. That’s inevitable when you are out there going after what you want and coming out of your comfort zone. Here’s the good news though. It’s completely worth it!
When you fall, just brush off your shoulders, take it on the chin and keep going like the bad boss that you are. Don’t let it stop you. Brene Brown, who researches and writes about shame and vulnerability, calls this living wholeheartedly and I wholeheartedly agree with her.
The Antidote to The Unknown is Action
As far as the last remaining causes of fear about the worst case scenarios and the fear of the unknown, we already know the antidote from the prior podcast. The way to overcome fear of uncertainty is to take action. Nike knows the answer right? Just do it. Take action. That is how you overcome fear of the unknown.
Also remember failure doesn’t have to be the zombie apocalypse either! We can absolutely change our mindsets. If you want something bad enough, failure can be looked at as an opportunity to see what didn’t work so you can self correct and go again. Use failure to your advantage to learn and grow.
The Man in The Arena
The following quote is what Brene Brown used as her inspiration for explaining how to live wholeheartedly. It is from a speech by President Teddy Roosevelt from 1910 commonly called The Man In The Arena speech.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
So so powerful.
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