We all have it: the fear of failing.
It’s natural! Based on an evolutionary perspective, failing means either dying or doing something wrong and being kicked out of the tribe and therefore still dying—not the nicest thought! Fortunately, these risks are not evident in today’s society, however our sense of fear is still inherently strong.
We fear that if we fail, we will not be loved anymore, that we’ll experience uncomfortable emotions like disappointment and guilt, that we won’t get the same opportunities.
If we constantly live in this perpetual state of fear, we’re taking away from the beauty that surrounds us, and we hold ourselves back.
But we can stop this, and doing so is straight-forward—it just takes a little practice to find that sweet spot. We will still be loved if we allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Uncomfortable emotions are as much a part of us as happiness and joy, and life would be easier if we learned to respect and love them equally.
By definition, failing comes when one is unsuccessful in achieving their goal. Fear arises because we become so attached to the outcome—the one outcome that we believe is the only right one. It could be that what happened was actually better than what we’d expected, but we just can’t see it yet. The truth is, we only fail when we give up—so we must alter our perspective of what failure is.
This is the fun bit! There are several ways of going about this, physically, emotionally, and mentally.
Talk to your six-year-old self:
This is a powerful way to learn that failing isn’t so bad. Close your eyes and imagine yourself at six years old. How are you feeling? Consider how far you’ve come from everything that you thought you had failed at. What have you learned? How different are your opinions to what to your six-year-old self might think? What have you learned from not achieving something exactly as you’d planned it?
All of our beautiful experiences could not have happened without our lives going exactly as they have.
I know it sounds a little crazy, but honestly, it works. I used to be so scared of failing that I avoided doing many things that called to me. I really wanted to rock climb, but was so scared that I couldn’t do it and I’d embarrass myself, so I didn’t allow myself to try.
My solution was to practice failing, which left me feeling so empowered. I tried climbing a massive tree for half an hour to begin with—not exactly rock climbing, but it was free—and while I was able to climb higher on occasion, I often failed. Knowing that failing didn’t actually affect my life in any way made it far less scary.
Set an intention:
I recently started working with a coach because I was anticipating a big launch in my career, and I had a lot of risk involved. Even for an established yoga teacher and coach, fear can still pop up when we start doing new things. I was fearful that no one would show up to the new yoga classes I was teaching, and that all my efforts would be for nothing.
We discovered I could only fail by giving up, and my success wasn’t based on the number of people who showed up to the classes. So I set my intention: “The classes, opportunities, and connections that come from this launch will result in the highest good for all involved.” If nobody came to the classes, I would be able to use the space for myself—the highest good for me. If one person came, they got a 1:1 session—the highest good for them and me. If the class was fully booked, it was the highest good for everyone!
Whatever the outcome was, I believed that with that intention, the outcome was always positive and not scary.
Imagine the worst-case scenario:
Imagine failing. Imagine doing the thing that scares you the most and then imagine overcoming it. Plan and prepare; fail and overcome. By doing it in our minds, we are failing in a safe zone where nothing can go wrong. Take a deep breath, release, and let go. Write it down if you want, and rip it up. Bring yourself back into the moment and know that you can overcome the thing that scares you most.
Look into the future:
Here’s a little visualization for you: imagine 80-year-old you, sitting and looking over a beautiful landscape. Whether that be rolling hills, a beautiful beach, or a mystical woodland, see yourself sitting and gazing with a content expression on your face. You feel calm, at ease, and proud of yourself. What have you done to make yourself proud? Whatever pops into your head, that is what you need to do. Strong, future you knows you’ll achieve it, however it manifests itself. Whether it happens exactly, or doesn’t happen at all, future you is proud of what you’ve been able to achieve.
Trust and believe:
We are where we are in life because of all our experiences and setbacks, and we have so much more to look forward to. Trust and believe that there is more greatness to come, and have faith that it is all happening for us and not to us.
Failing isn’t the end of the road, or a reflection of our efforts. It’s simply a detour in a direction that is far more powerful. As Nelson Mandela says, “I never lose, I either win or I learn.” How amazing is that?
Author: Helen Sian India
Image: Monique Prater/Flickr
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Copy & Social Editor: Nicole Cameron
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