After my third trip to my son's room to check for the possibility of "monsters" lurking somewhere in his room, I started to think about the nature of fear. It was interesting to think about how certain fears develop in our psyches- perhaps from watching cartoons (for small children) or perhaps from negative experiences as we get older. Of course, most adults don't spend a lot of time worried about monsters (outside of horror films) but we do spend a lot of time dealing with different fears. Perhaps some of them are physical fears- fear of heights, of deep water, of flying. Some of them are emotional fears- perhaps a fear of being abandoned. Some fears may stem from past experiences- a fear of public speaking because you totally flubbed your last presentation, for example.
Some fears might be justified- I definitely don't make a habit of walking down dark alleys at night- but some can hamper our chances of moving forward in life and reaching our goals. Here are some tips on how to overcome one common fear: the fear of failure.
How to Overcome the Fear of Failure
Recognize that We are Always Learning
When things don't go the way we want, it can feel pretty devastating. After all, we put a lot of time and energy into reaching our goals and it can hurt to see our latest project bomb. Still, everything in life is a learning opportunity and a chance to do things differently in the future. Every time you feel you "failed," it's important to take a moment to reflect. What went right? What went wrong? What could be done differently? Maybe everything was done perfectly, but the timing was wrong or there were other circumstances outside of your control. Just knowing that can make you feel a bit better.
We are so focused on things that go wrong, that we often forget to celebrate the things that are going right. Take time to celebrate success! This is where a gratitude journal comes in handy- reminding you of everything that is going well in your life.
Learn to Take Life in Moments
Whenever things don't go well, it is helpful to remember that life is full of moments, some of them difficult, but many of them wonderful. Maybe this moment isn't the best, but you have the opportunity to turn it around later on. No failed project is the end of everything.
Step by Step
If you're feeling overwhelmed by everything you have to do and it is contributing to your feeling of failing, it's helpful to start taking tasks step by step. Most large tasks can be broken up into multiple steps, which will make them easier to complete and less overwhelming.
Lean on Others
When you're struggling, it's easy to feel like you're on your own. This is when it's important to lean on others in your community- whether it's your coworkers for work projects or community members for other matters. Friends and family can offer assistance and invaluable advice. And of course, when they need assistance, you can be there to help them.
Failure (and fear of failure) is a part of life but it shouldn't prevent us from moving forward on our journey. If you find that your fears are incapacitating, it might be worth contacting a mental health professional who can help you overcome it.