The fear of failure is one of the most common fears in the world, and unfortunately, it prevents lots of us from doing the things that we really want to do. We avoid job interviews because we fear being rejected by the employer. We don’t take part in courses or programs which we might enjoy because we don’t think we’re good enough or believe we will fail the exams at the end. We don’t join our friends at the gym or running a marathon in case we aren’t as fast or as good as the other people around us.
So what causes the fear of failure?
Fear of failing stems mainly from a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence. If we don’t believe we can do something, we are much less likely to try it. This comes down to not feeling like we are good enough to do certain things.
Low self-esteem often begins during puberty and adolescence. Children are bullied at school by their peers, at home by their siblings and sometimes by adults in their lives too. At a crucial time during development when self-confidence tends to be at its lowest point anyway, it doesn’t take much to knock a child’s self-esteem for a long time.
A fear of failure can also come from previous failures. If you’ve tried to lose weight several times and always seem to give up or struggle and put weight back on, you will be less inclined to try it a further time.
This is why we often hear and say phrases such as:
‘I can’t do it.’
‘It never works.’
‘It’s no good trying again.’
How can you overcome the fear of failure?
Once you have understood where your fear of failure comes from, you can start working to overcome it. If it comes from your childhood and younger years, remember that things have changed and are not the same now. Your childhood bullies are not in your life, and moving on from hurtful comments and action which led to your low self-esteem will help you in the long-term.
If you’ve previously failed at something, think about what led to the failure and try to change it this time around. Don’t keep trying the same thing if it has failed 2-3 times or more in the past.
Some people are unsure of why they have a fear of failure, and this is perfectly normal too. For most of us, it is the idea of other people thinking poorly of us that drives us to be afraid of failing. Remember that everything you do in life should be for yourself and not to impress or please other people.