I remember being sent to see the school counsellor in Year 8 because the whole class had been given a form to fill out, asking what our biggest fears and worries were. If I’d known that any answer would automatically lead to an appointment being booked, I wouldn’t have been so honest…
But I didn’t, and so I wrote: A fear of failure.
This fear is one of the 3 main fears that I see, alongside the fear of judgement and of change. Fear is the invisible barrier that holds us back from achieving our full potential, and when we think that there’s a high chance we’ll fall – we won’t even make the leap.
How many times have you wanted to go for something but didn’t, because the risk of not getting it made your stomach sink? How often have your dreams been squashed by the weight of your own expectations? Or drowned out by your own questions of whether you thought you were enough?
Overcoming a fear of failure is entirely possible if you allow yourself to be guided by inspired action, and realise that failure is a great way for you to refine your craft. However, the first step towards any type of change is acceptance! Which means recognising that you have a fear of failure in the first place.
Here are 8 signs that you might:
1. Procrastination and avoidance
Do you distract yourself with laundry, lists and other chores when there’s something important to be done? We often find it easier to procrastinate and avoid investing our time and energy into something that we think we may fail at. If you find yourself avoiding something which could benefit you and/or potentially have a big payoff, it might be because you’re scared of failing.
Do you keep doing and redoing something, but it never seems to be quite right? Being scared to release something into the world shows that you don’t think it’s good enough yet, and so you believe it’s destined for failure. Perfectionism is often rooted in low self-esteem, and it’s a way that we try to make ourselves good enough through our actions which we can control; but the truth is – you were born good enough! No amount of perfectionism can ever protect you from failure, as the risk of it hides around every corner. All of the most successful people know that failure is an inevitable part of success, regardless of how good the work is that they’re putting out.
3. Worrying excessively about what others think of you
If we don’t see ourselves as good enough, we’re likely to be afraid that others will think the same. Failing can be embarrassing, and if we want to control what others think of us then it might seem smart to avoid anything which could possibly lead to failure. But, it’s not! We can never control what other people think of us and it’s their prerogative to think things which are untrue or unkind. Never let somebody else’s opinion have more power over you than your own.
When we’re afraid that failure could be lurking behind our next step, it can cause us paralysis by analysis as we try and figure out how to avoid it. The best way to combat indecision is to follow your internal guidance system as closely as possible. Inspired action is the best antidote to your fear of failure as you’ll know that you’re being guided along by a purpose greater than you.
5. Negative self-talk
Our inner critic would have a lot to say if we were to fail, which might be another reason for us not to try at all! If you’re used to being riddled with doubt, your negative self-talk could be another sign that you have a fear of failure. It can be hard to spot when your own thoughts aren’t productive, but what goes on inside our mind can be our worst enemy. Don’t talk yourself out of things that you want to do because you can’t be 100% certain what the outcome will be – we’ll never truly know until we try!
6. Doubting yourself
How many times have you felt like you could have done more? Self-love is a skill which can be practiced, and it’s the best way to combat perfectionist tendencies. It can be really difficult to accept that what you’ve done is good enough – even if it leads to failure – but it might not work out this time around simply because divine timing has something better in store for you. If something is right for you, your day will always come.
7. Hiding from opportunities
Afraid to try or afraid to fail? If you’re saying ‘no’ to things when a part of you wants to say ‘yes’, it’s probably an invisible fear of failure speaking for you. In the moment, it can seem easier to hide from things which are scary. But, over the long term, hiding from great opportunities will only erode your self-esteem as you miss out on the chance to prove what you’re actually capable of. Overcoming a fear of failure means feeling the fear but then doing it anyway!
8. Too cosy in your comfort zone
Ahhh doesn’t it feel comfortable to keep doing what you’ve always done? We all like our own habits because they feel cosy and familiar, but staying safe within our own boundaries can be a one-way ticket to frustration-ville. Every once in a while, challenge yourself to step outside of your boundaries and get comfortable with the feeling of discomfort instead. Many of the world’s biggest entrepreneurs attribute their success to being able to do this! Stepping outside of your comfort zone takes practice, but the rewards for your career, lifestyle and bravery can be enormous.
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Being afraid of failure is a normal human emotion, but it can be insidious to our wellbeing and success. Next time an opportunity feels too challenging, ask yourself – what would I do if I wasn’t afraid? Once you start acting in spite of the fear, you will start to realise that the worst thing that can ever happen is an emotion.
As I’ve said, the best way to overcome a fear of failure is to be fully aligned with your intuition and take inspired action. Your soul will always lead you to success, even if failure is required first to teach you the lessons that you’ll need to get there. If you’re struggling to connect with your intuition and are being held back too often by your fear of failure, check back here again for my new spiritual coaching tools which will be available from the start of 2020!
There is nothing that can hold you back when you have a purpose greater than you…