Four secrets to conquering a fear of failure
A fear of failure is the minds natural way of protecting us from what it sees as a threat. We all have it in different situations.
The source of the fear varies with the individual such as "I might appear stupid" or "I'm not good enough". But for all of us, the feeling can be paralysing and cause procrastination.
That can then lead to us playing small, not moving out of our comfort zones and not taking up new opportunities.
If you'd like to conquer your fear of failure then I have four proven secrets to share with you.
1) Stop running films in your head
This type of thinking is known as 'what if' thinking. When we play films in our mind about the possible catastrophes that could happen.
The mind doesn't distinguish between reality and our thinking. Instead, decide if there is anything you can do to prevent the worst possibilities. If not then let go of the film because it's out of your control. Distract yourself or focus on what are the positives that could happen.
2) Visualise the obstacles
A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in 2011, took two groups of students and asked them to write about what they thought would happen in their lives in the coming week. One group was asked to imagine all positives and the other group was just asked to write down any thoughts about the week that came to mind.
Surprisingly the students asked to be positive about the week had less energy and achieved less during the week than the control group.
This demonstrates that just thinking positively isn't enough to achieve the outcomes we want. Research has shown that the best outcomes are created when we balance positive thinking with visualising the future obstacles and struggles we will encounter.
Have a go at visualising a situation in which you are afraid of failure. Imagine yourself now hitting an obstacle, allow yourself to feel the fear, and then see yourself carrying on anyway. Finally think about how you could overcome these obstacles, then see yourself succeeding despite these obstacles
3) Separate yourself from the failure
When you've failed in the past, did you make it about you or the situation? It's important to take responsibility for our actions, but that doesn't mean we are the failure. It's much healthier if you can separate you and your beliefs about yourself from what actually happened.
For example, making a mistake in a project doesn't mean you're stupid or not good enough. It just means you made a mistake and can learn from the mistake next time.
4) Feel the fear (and do it anyway!)
Even if you use the secrets above you may still have the feeling of fear and because we don't like to feel uncomfortable it can stop us moving forward.
Rather than doing something to get rid of the feeling, try sitting quietly with the sensations and deep breathing. Or imagine you're sitting outside yourself observing what you're doing. Then you'll find the feeling dissipates by itself and the bodies natural calm returns.
Having realised that the fear is transitory you'll feel more confident to take action next time.