The curiosity of children seems to override their sense of fear as they learn to ride bikes, hang upside-down on the monkey bars and perform acrobatic tricks, as well as trying new foods. As the years pass, it seems fear and anxiety around the potential for failure increase. Through conversations with friends, posts on social media, and health histories, it appears as through many people experience anxieties about failure in their relationships and careers. In efforts to self-medicate, often they turn to food or medication, isolation, and unhealthy behaviors including addiction. Self-sabotage, perfectionism, low self-confidence, reluctance to try new unfamiliar activities are also symptoms of fear of failure.
So when the sick brick of gooey, black feeling of fear settles into the stomach, and anxiety increases the heart rate and causes jittery nerves, what can you do?
4 Tips of Overcoming Fear of Failure
- Acknowledge the feelings and explore their origins (i.e. childhood or mistakes made as adults)
- Remember the acronym: F.E.A.R. is False Evidence Appearing Real. Children eventually realize that ‘the monster in the closet’ was pure imagination; sometimes adults forget that they can choose between visualizing success as well as failure.
- Assess the true risk and take necessary precautions. Check your safety equipment before you mountain bike, zip-line, or ski down a mountain. Learning to explore and evaluate possible outcomes can help build contingency planning.
- Set small goals that will help you build your confidence. When skiing down a black diamond slope, sometimes it’s best to focus on the 20-30 feet ahead. Same with starting a new diet or exercise routine; start slowly and self-efficacy will soon increase.
Sometimes it’s best to feel the fear of failure and take action anyway. If you don’t get the desired result, there’s a silver lining of having learned something; if you do, remember the feeling of having overcome fear and turned it into a success – you’ll need it next time.