Afraid of Failure? Here’s Advice on Coping with Failure

Fear of failure causes us to put the brakes on our life.  Sometimes, when we are so afraid to fail, we either opt out and don’t try at all, or we inadvertently get in our own way and undermine our own efforts to avoid an even bigger failure. Without question, fear of failure can feel immobilizing and, when when allowed to drive our decision-making, we sit on the sidelines, we miss great opportunities and potential for success.

fear of failure

Signs of Fear of Failure

While most of us do not like to fail, how do you know if your fear is an actual phobia (called “atychiphobia”) and one that is likely limiting your life? Here are some signs to watch for:

  • A reluctance to try new things
  • Self-sabotage in the form of procrastination or failure to follow through with goals
  • Low self-esteem or self-confidence 

The thing to remember with failure is, it’s all a matter of perspective. We are the ones who ultimately decide how we want to think about failure. We have a few choices. We can think of failure as:

‘Proof’ of inadequacy, or…An opportunity to learn something and a chance to celebrate your courage.

When we fail, we are given opportunities that are powerful and help us grow as people. In this way failure is like manure – some people see it as a nutrient- rich fertilizer while others see it as a pile of, well, you get the idea.

The bottom line is, failure stops us only if we let it. Did you know Michael Jordan, widely considered the greatest basketball players of all time, was cut from his high school basketball team because his coach didn’t think he had enough skills? Jordan could have let fear of future failure stop him from becoming a legend, but he didn’t.

You don’t have to let fear of failure stop you from becoming a legend in your own life.

When we fail, we are given opportunities that are powerful and help us grow as people. In this way failure is like manure – some people see it as a nutrient-rich fertilizer while others see it as a pile of, well, you get the idea.

CHICAGO - JUNE 1:  Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls catches his breath in Game One of the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz at the United Center on June 1, 1997 in Chicago, Illinois.  The Bulls won 84-82.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1997 NBAE (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

The bottom line is, failure stops us only if we let it. Did you know Michael Jordan, widely considered the greatest basketball players of all time, was cut from his high school basketball team because his coach didn’t think he had enough skills? Jordan could have let fear of future failure stop him from becoming a legend, but he didn’t.

You don’t have to let fear of failure stop you from becoming a legend in your own life.

Here are some ways you can cope:

Separate Your Identity from Failure

Many of us blur the lines between personal failure and being a failure. You are not your failures. Making failure personal can take a toll on your self-esteem and confidence.

It is important to note you are not defined by your successes either. There is  more to you than your accomplishments or shortcomings. Just because you haven’t been “successful” in a specific area doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Falling short in one activity does not mean you will always lose. You simply have not tasted success yet.  Success and failure should not determine who you are or your self-worth.

Rely on Logic, Not Emotions

As I mentioned, you can learn an awful lot from failure. It is natural to feel negative emotions like frustration, regret and anger after an experience of failure.

However, if you are able to work through or suspend those emotions and to look at the failure logically and analytically you can learn a lot about yourself and your actions. Become a scientist and ask yourself questions: Why did you fail? Was the failure totally out of your control? What might have led to a different outcome?

Don’t Give Your Power to Other People

Fear of failure is often rooted in a need to seek approval from others. We fear if we fail, we will be harshly judged by others and lose their respect. But when we care more about what other people think of us, we give our power away. What other people think about you is not necessarily the truth about you.

Sometimes when our fear of failure is so great, it helps to talk to someone who can help you gain a new perspective on it. Seeking guidance from a therapist may be just what you need to tackle your fear of failure and live the life you were meant to live.

If you or someone close to you is interested in exploring therapy or treatment options, check our our page on individual therapy or reach out to our practice at admin@approachtherapy.com so we can discuss options for therapy. If you are ready to get started and want to book an intake appointment now, click the link below to request an appointment now

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