In this article, we will examine just “What is fear of Failure” and determine if we can overcome it.
We all have our own definition of what is fear. This is because we have different benchmarks and goals we are trying to achieve.
What could be considered as a failure to one person may only be a learning experience to another.
I am sure many of us have experienced the fear of failing at some time in our lives.
Fear of failure is when we allow that fear to stop us from doing what we need to, in order to progress toward our goals.
Fear of failure allows us to feel safe by not trying new things or taking on challenges. For this reason, it can be counterproductive which prevents us from growing and experiencing new things.
According to Wikipedia, it states that we have a “Fear of Negative Evaluation” which is also called atychiphobia. In other words, we are not so much afraid of failure itself but of what others may think if we are unable to accomplish something.
The Causes Of Fear Of Failure
Quite often, fear of failure can be linked to having critical or unsupportive parents. By being continuously criticized or ridiculed as a child causes some people to carry those negative feelings into adulthood.
In some cases, a traumatic event such as a work/school presentation going poorly may be the cause. It may have upset them so badly they developed a fear of trying new things.
Perhaps at school, a person was bullied and as a result, their self-esteem suffered and carried this low self-esteem into their adult life.
What Are The Symptoms Of Fear
We all experience fear in slightly different ways. Some of these may be familiar to you:
- feeling reluctant to try new things
- excessive anxiety
- failing to follow through with goals
- low self-esteem or self-confidence
Fear Affects Many Aspects of Life
Fear can be paralyzing in that it prevents us from trying to accomplish our goals.
Sometimes people fear not performing well enough at work which can prevent them from taking on new projects.
If not dealt with people can actually experience panic attacks when they realize they didn’t complete certain tasks.
These panic attacks can actually become severe enough that they prevent the person from even showing up at work which then risks their job.
Losing that job would only serve to lower their self-esteem further and make their anxiety grow.
The cycle continues and the person may develop depression which also serves to compound the fear and anxiety.
We Have a Choice
We can choose to look at fear in a way that “proves our inadequacy” or we can choose to look for the lesson to be learned so we can avoid that same error in the future.
Looking for the lesson in every situation keeps us growing.
As humans, we need to be constantly growing in order to thrive.
Failure can only stop us if we allow it to.
We need to realize we are not alone in our fear of failure, everyone has it to some degree.
The difference is not everyone allows it to stop them.
Remember the Bible story of David and Goliath? If you recall David did not once mention how dangerous or scary Goliath was. The only thing he talked about was how great his God was.
The lesson we can take away from that story is to focus on the positive, that will get you through pretty much anything.
How to Overcome Fear
There’s a chance of failure at everything we attempt each day. Once we recognize that, we just need to embrace it and then carry on anyways which leads to a greater experience and ultimately a happier, more rewarding life.
Start by analyzing the situation. Many times we are afraid of the unknown. We may be able to dis-spell the fear simply by taking some time to analyze every possible outcome kinda like a chess player.
Learning to think more positively will go a long way toward eliminating fear.
Focus on the positive outcomes rather than the negative ones.
Try to imagine the worst possible outcome and you may find that it really isn’t so bad. Other times you may be wise to not pursue that action.
Come up with a feasible contingency plan. Simply having a “Plan B” can go a long way in eliminating fear.
Try setting small goals and then reward yourself when you reach them, I discuss this in my post “Why Are Goals Important For Success”
Visualize yourself achieving that goal, think about what that feels like. Take that feeling with you as you set another small goal.
We can only achieve big goals by first achieving the small goals along the way.
I have come across these three great books that I found to be very helpful for myself:
- Negative Self Talk and How to Change It – by Shad Helmstetter PhD
- How to Stop Worrying and Start Living – by Dale Carnegie
- What to Say When You Talk to Yourself – by Shad Helmstetter PhD
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It is important to point out that sometimes being afraid of failure is a symptom of a more serious problem. While these suggestions have been known to have a positive effect on reducing fear-related stress, it is only a guide.
If you believe your fear or negative thinking could be the result of a related illness or you are experiencing significant or persistent unhappiness or have thoughts of self-harm reach out to a medical professional.
Always discuss with a medical professional any major lifestyle change such as diet or exercise.
Understanding that we are not alone in our fear of failure is important. We have all experienced this fear in varying degrees.
The best thing we can do for ourselves is to decide not to let fear stop us.
Then set about the business of thinking of every possible outcome and devising a plan for each undesirable outcome.
By having many different plans established then we are well prepared which will go a long way to calming our fears.
If those fears happen to get the better of us and are interfering with our daily life then it is time to seek the help of a medical professional.
Our life’s valuable lessons are only revealed after failure. Accepting and learning from those lessons is the key to succeeding in life.
I hope you enjoyed my article on Fear Of Failure. Please leave your thoughts on the subject below.
Thanks for reading.
4 thoughts on “What Is Fear Of Failure?”
Thanks for sharing this article, Rick! I’m a big fan of personal development. I’ve read Carnegie’s book and found a lot of great tips. One thing I learned, and like to remind myself when I face the fear is to embrace it as a natural emoting that everyone is feeling and act in the face of it. It’s a simple formula that works every time 🙂 Thanks again for sharing a great piece of content!
You are very welcome my friend. Yes Carnegie in my opinion has one of the best books for personal development – his books carry some great tips for sure. That is great advise to embrace your emotions naturally, albeit not always easy to do.
Thanks for your comment Ivan,
Rick, thanks for sharing these books with us. I like these self-help books. ESP how to stop worrying and start living.
I like the tips mentioned in that book.
In times of great depression, I think we really need some time to read these self-help books.
Yes I couldn’t agree with you more but as you probably know it is very difficult to get our selves to read something positive while in a negative mode. Having the right attitude sure does make a difference which is why I wrote the article about attitude. You can read it here.
Thanks for your comment and please come by anytime, you never know what wonderful little gems I may have to share.