The fear of failure (also known as atychiphobia) has many symptoms. Some of these include self-sabotage, procrastination, and physical symptoms like heart palpitations. But why do people have this irrational fear? There are many reasons, such as a traumatic event in your past or low self-worth.
In this blog post, we’re going to show you how to overcome this issue and start living your best life.
1. Set Small Goals
Come up with a list of goals that are simple and easily achieved. Choose something like making your bed every morning or giving up a bad habit. Whatever you select, do something which does not challenge you too much. Completing these easy goals is the first step to moving out of your comfort zone and building up confidence.
2. Think about All Possible Outcomes
People often fear failure because they fear the unknown. You can overcome this by visualizing all possible outcomes. Sit down with a piece of paper and think of everything that could happen. Ask yourself, “What would it be like to experience this, and would I be ok with it?” Doing this should go a long way towards alleviating your fears. You may also want to use tools like a decision tree or a decision flowchart.
3. Imagine the Worst-Case Scenario
Ask yourself what-if questions, i.e., “What’s the worst thing that can happen if I do fail?” You’ll probably find that the worst-case scenario isn’t nearly as bad as you thought. Doing this allows you to mentally process the idea of failure. It also gives you a chance to come up with a backup plan or a Plan B.
4. Practice Positive Thinking
Successful people build their self-confidence by using positive visualizations. You can use this tool by imagining positive outcomes and avoiding negative thoughts. Also, start to monitor your self-talk and stop saying negative things to yourself. Make sure that you back this up with positive action (positive thinking is worthless if you don’t take action.)
5. At the Same Time Avoid Visualization
While it’s important to think positively, you should avoid visualizing success. This is according to a series of studies by The Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, which found that visualization correlates with diminished outcomes and performance. In this example, study participants were asked to visualize doing better than average on an upcoming test.
When compared to the control group, this group actually received lower test scores. According to researchers, this happens because visualizing positive outcomes may lead to a loss of motivation. The point is that starry-eyed dreamers may avoid doing work in the real world. That being said, if you do want to visualize, then see in your mind’s eye the things it will take to reach your goals. For example, if your goal is straight A’s in high school, then visualize the hard work required.
6. Learn from Failure
Failure is a great learning experience, if not one of the greatest. When failure occurs, sit down and analyze what happened. Ask yourself what you learned from the situation, as well as what you did right, what you did wrong, and what you could have done better. Also, think about the reasons for your failure and how you could have avoided or minimized them. Realize that most things have a learning curve, which is why success does not always happen the first time.
7. Give Up on Perfectionism
Perfectionism is a major root cause of the fear of failure. Understand that perfection is impossible, and you have to accept a certain amount of imperfection. Realize that having such high expectations may actually lead to failure and can even impact your mental health (i.e., you could have a panic attack if things don’t go your way.)
8. Analyze Your Fears
Ask yourself this “What am I really afraid of, and where do those fears come from?” What is “failure,” and what type of belief systems do you have about failure? For example, does failure mean getting fired from your job, going bankrupt, or having to give up certain things? Doing this makes it easier to deal with your fears. It also makes it easier to come up with contingency plans if you fail.
9. Focus on the Journey
Realize that it’s not about the destination, but about the journey. Stop obsessing over your goals or the idea of failure. It’s better to adopt a growth mindset and see your goals as a type of personal development. Learn to relax and focus only on the next step and not the eventual outcome. When you do this, you can start to see failure as a normal and natural part of life.
10. Remember That All Things Pass
No matter what happens, whether it’s embarrassment while public speaking, messing up an important presentation, or missing out on your dream job, life will soon go back to normal. Realize that just because you’ve failed doesn’t mean you’re a failure. Instead of focusing on what happened, think of what you’ll do differently next time. Tell yourself, “this too shall pass,” and that with enough hard work, you can get back on track.
11. Focus on the Present
Learn to focus on what’s happening now and quit worrying about the future. People fear failure because they focus on what could happen or what they think will happen. Rather than focusing on the present, they project into the future and visualize negative outcomes. These people also ruminate on past failures and the negative consequences of past actions. Doing this creates anxiety and stops you from trying new things.
12. Get It Over With
The best thing you can do to overcome your fears of failure is simply to fail. Stop imagining that your worst fears will come true and just go out and do it. You can even turn this into a type of game where you try doing something new every day. If you do this, you’ll find is that only one of two things can happen. Basically, you’ll either succeed or fail. Whatever happens, you’ll learn that the fear of failure stops once you take action.
13. Focus on What You Can Control
Here’s a valuable insight: there are some things in life that you simply cannot control. Worrying about these things makes you stressed out, anxious, and tense. A good way to deal with this is by drawing up a list of what you do and do not have influence over. Once you’ve done this, train yourself to focus only on the things you can influence (and forget about the things you cannot.)
14. Rethink Your Goals
It’s a good idea to practice flexibility when pursuing your goals. You see, we often become obsessed with achieving certain versions of our goals. You may have the goal to earn a certain amount of money or lose a certain amount of weight. When we fail to reach these goals, it has a negative impact on our emotions.
In this case, you should find a new perspective or even a new goal. For example, think about what you learned from the experience, what you could have done better the next time, and if the goal is really worth it.
15. Be Prepared to Ask for Help
If you find yourself crippled by the fear of failure, seeking professional help is a great idea. You may want to hire a career coach or see a psychologist. These people can give you treatment options and help you overcome your anxieties and fear of success. They can also give you support and advice or simply listen to your problems.
16. Be Kinder to Yourself
One reason people fear failure is because they treat themselves too harshly. They beat themselves up and experience feelings of shame and embarrassment or see themselves as a social failure. Doing this is pointless, and you have to learn how to deal with failure in a more positive way.
You can do this by engaging in activities that relieve negative emotions, such as exercise, yoga, or meditation. Talking to trusted family members or your best friend will also help. You should also cut down on negative self-talk and practice self-compassion. Realize that there’s no reason to feel ashamed of failure (after all, even people like Michael Jordan and Elon Musk have experienced this.)
17. Don’t Be Afraid of Failure
You have to understand that fear is normal and something you must accept. This is especially true if you’re doing something important or meaningful (such as starting a new business.) In this case, realize that you’re feeling fear because you’re attempting something big. If your goals were not important, then you wouldn’t feel the fear. This also means that fear is a good thing and a sign you’re living up to your full potential.
18. Give Yourself Permission to Fail
You don’t have to see failure as a traumatic experience. The reason people often feel this way is because they do not give themselves permission to fail. Instead of being obsessed with winning or achieving the best outcomes, approach goals with the idea that you may actually fail. One way of doing this is by always seeing yourself as a beginner, no matter how experienced you actually are. If you see things this way, you may actually find yourself doing great things without even trying.
19. Brainstorm Multiple Options
If you have an important decision to make, then come up with as many options as possible. Evaluate each one of these options thoroughly, and think about which is best for you. Doing this gives you alternatives if you fail. It also helps you make well-informed decisions and do it with confidence.
20. Consider What You’ll Lose by Not Trying
Living in fear harms your life in big ways which you may not have considered. You have to acknowledge that living in fear comes with a price. Fear keeps us trapped in a prison of our own making and often means we miss out on the best things in life. If the fear of failure is stopping you from pursuing goals, think about what you’ll miss out on. List these things and ask yourself if you’re really ready to go without them. Remember that it’s better to fail than never try at all.
21. Break Things Down
The best way to conquer your goals is to break them down into smaller steps. Ask yourself, “what is the next necessary step in completing this goal?” Completing each small step is easier than taking on everything at once. You’ll also experience less fear by taking one tiny step at a time. Doing this also makes it easier to reach your goals.
22. Learn from Others
Even the most successful people in history have failed at one time or another. The best example of this is Steve Jobs, who got fired from his own company. You can learn a lot from these people and apply it to your specific situation. A great way of doing this is by reading autobiographies. Reading these books will give you fantastic insights into the lives of successful people and help you cope with your own fear of success. Plus, you’ll also realize that most people fail a number of times before becoming successful.
23. Learn to Think Rationally
Understand that your fear of failure is more than likely completely irrational. People often overdramatize the consequences of failure or base their ideas on negative past experiences. You could also be engaging in catastrophic thinking. In this case, you need to take a few deep breaths and realize that you’re thinking irrationally.
What’s more, you need to understand that the things you’re worried about are unlikely to happen. Think about it, don’t things usually turn out differently compared to how we think?
24. Use Exposure Therapy
This is a technique where you expose yourself to the things you’re afraid of. The idea is that by doing this, you overcome your fears. There are many different ways of utilizing exposure therapy. For example, perhaps you’d like to learn how to play an instrument, ask for a raise, talk to someone you’re intimidated by, or even start a small business. No matter what you choose, the important thing is that you see the activity through to the end, no matter how afraid you get.
25. Never Give Up
Ultimately, the only real way to overcome the fear of failure is by attacking it head-on. As long as you refuse to give up, there’s a good chance you’ll make it. The bottom line is this: you have to make the conscious decision to continue going, despite all negative experiences.
Conventional wisdom tells us that we need to fear failure. That failing makes us a loser or a bad person. The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth, and you have to start telling yourself a better and bigger story. Understand that everyone experiences failure at some time or another (even people like Thomas Edison and Winston Churchill have failed). The difference between these people and everyone else is that they pick themselves up and try again.
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