Afraid of Failure? 4 Steps to Weakening Your Fear of Failure
Have you ever felt like a failure? I totally have. But I am not alone. There is an epidemic of feelings of failure in our country. And failure is so definitive. When you think you failed, there is not much wiggle room to be anything other than "a failure." A horrible way to see yourself! This becomes a belief ingrained and tainting everything else we do and try.
Here are four ways to weaken your fear of failure:
1. Lower Your Expectations
Failure is in relation to something. Usually some standard or expectation that was not met: I am not thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough. Having unreasonable expectations is more detrimental on our health than anything else. It brings in judgment, which compounds every other problem we already have.
When we have a feeling which is appropriate to the situation, and then we judge ourselves, and worry, the problem becomes so much bigger and harder to recover from. On top of that, we berate ourselves for not recovering quickly–yet another layer of judgment. The original feeling is peanuts compared to the complex mess layers of judgment and fear add.
Don't add them. Allow yourself to feel. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself, lower those outrageous expectations! Instead of dwelling, do something (How to Turn Anxiety Into Action).
2. Know there is a point to trying
Past feelings of failure attempt to take away the point to trying to feel better, accomplish something. We get convinced that we will fail anyway (Signs That You Live With the Fear of Failure). We assume trying hard will make us more disappointed when we do actually fail, and so we put less effort in in hopes to protect our heart. With less effort, we may actually not achieve our goal and we can say "See? I always fail. Good thing I did not try."
There is a point. Rarely is anything accomplished without trying. And if we try and don't succeed, our heart actually feels better, not worse. We build confidence knowing that we did our best. We feel empowered because we can respond to things in life.
3. Notice your accomplishment
Simple. See the good in you instead of the bad. Focus on something else beside that one standard you missed. Have confidence in the efforts you did put forth. Notice other things you received from the process, like friends you've made along the journey, what you learned, and how it made you grow. Remember other accomplishments in your life (Be Less Anxious and Overwhelmed: Celebrate Accomplishments).
4. Remember it is not over
We sometimes assume we failed too soon. Then we feel devastated and stop trying. If you are still alive, you could not have failed, since it is not over. Yes, your standards and expectation might change, but if you are still kicking, you cannot by definition be a failure. Readjust your expectations and try again.
Lobozzo, J. (2012, August 8). Afraid of Failure? 4 Steps to Weakening Your Fear of Failure, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, February 5 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2012/08/afraid-of-failure-4-steps-to-breaking-down-failure
Author: Jodi Lobozzo Aman, LCSW-R
[...] of guilt, even though we’ve done nothing wrong. Is it fear that is the problem? Or is it the high expectations that when we don’t meet them puts us in pervasive darkness of [...]
I think number one should be rephrased. "Lower"-ing ones expectations may bring up a negative and depressing feeling. I think something like 'Make expectations realistic' might be more suitable. Or perhaps, stating one should 'Normalize one's expectations.'
"Normal" expectations are the extreme ones for most people. Trying to compete with what is "normal" is the problem. I'm sorry lowering expectations brings up a negative feeling for you. Do you mean, like you've failed? If you lowered the expectation then you wouldn't have failed.
and, dear Jodi, how can you get rid of the guilt towards youself when you realise that your failure was due to evaluating your self in a completely wrong way, believing that your capacities were limited, but years later you understand that you were completely unfair to your own self? and you wonder how much you could have done, or how much failure you could had avoided, if you didn't have that stupid idea in your head. how do you get rid of the 'what if's and the fear of self-failure?
You are saying fear of failure caused you to fail, so then you deserve to keep that fear. If you take a step back and look, it is almost ridiculous to hold onto it.
Stop judging yourself, forgive all of it and you will see your potential rise!
[...] yourself. Anxiety often has us blaming ourselves for everything. This makes you feel lousy and [...]
[...] Stop judging yourself. Anxiety often has us blaming ourselves for everything. This makes you feel lousy and increases [...]
I'm new to speaking about this w/ strangers & I'm trying to understand my emotions, so my questions/ comments may be unorganized.
Are you saying that the reason you try to accomplish things is because you would feel guilty if you did not try?
And how would Nikky go about letting go of the guilt? How should she approach things differently?
I am also scared to try things because I feel like there is no reason to attempt anything, based on my record of my perceived failure. I guess I'm trying to define "guilt" as it is used in this conversation so I can determine if "guilt" is the reason I do not attempt anything.
Nikky is correct, her guilt is supported by a belief that she is in fact guilty. She is not. This guilt was culturally constructed and must be destructed, through challenging those beliefs. This can be done is a bunch of ways. Too many to list, but including therapy, a friend, journalling, praying, meditation, relationships, etc. Talking a step back to see things from a new perspective is beneficial.
Guilt that you have failed everything does often immobilize us from trying new things. But there is fear here also, fear that we can never achieve. We don't try to prevent disappointment, the ego is making an attempt to protect, but really it makes us suffer more since then we are ever more convinced we are a failure. Hope this helps!
I love the 4 different points you mentioned.
1- lower your expectations: Being a perfectionist, it is not very easy, but I found a good way to do it, and it's to divide the big objective in small easy to reach goals. When working on accomplishing one of the small goals, I keep the big picture aside. When it is done, I just add it to the big goal like a peace of a puzzle.
2- There is a point to trying; the main point to trying for me is to avoid a guilt feeling. When we don't try it's because we are afraid to fail, but we would be failing anyway by not doing what has to be done. I try so that I can tell myself;at least you tried and didn't give up.
3-Notice the accomplishment: I do, but never satisfied as it can always be better. I always want to do more, do better. That is a good point to keep going.
4- It's not over: it is never over, not even by death.
When you let go of guilt, you let go of perfectionism. You, my dear would benefit greatly, if you let go of guilt! This is the key to happiness! Love, Jodi
I think I need first to believe I'm not guilty, otherwise it won't work