What if you could just get over the fear of failure? What new possibilities could emerge for you?
Reframes of FAILURE to Consider:
- Expand your definition of “failure.” Whatever you think failure is—make your definition broader. After all, at what point is something a failure? It’s easy to accept that what looks like failure is simply not yet a success, or only a partial success to date, or the new beginning from what looks like a complete failure hasn’t yet had time to emerge. After all, when the proverbial phoenix rises from the ashes, the failure that created the ashes has been transformed, thus the failure appears to have been beneficial if not essential.
- Let go of thinking failure is negative and should be avoided. You’ve heard the reframe—There’s no failure, only feedback! Exactly, failure is pointing to what didn’t work and needs shifting, adjusting, reconsidering, etc. Learning is a process that travels through many stages of falling short. Failure reveals something important—perhaps a misplaced assumption that when corrected creates a whole new understanding.
- Look at your own life experience. Notice your strong skillset and think back to the many stages of mastery and falling short that built that skillset. Failure paves the way for improvement. Complexity necessitates many earlier stages of simple success that fall short when stretched to the next level.
These various reframes are strategic approaches to dealing with any discomfort you might have with failure. For more on the value of strategies, check out Strategies: Embrace Them or Release Them?
Go Deep and Look Closely at the Fear of FAILURE:
The boldest and most powerful approach you can take to get over the fear of failure is to look more closely at your fear of failure! That closer look will show you what’s really holding you back. Rest assured that restraint that keeps you stuck in fear is a misplaced belief!
My Very Real Fear of Failure!
What does failure mean to you? OK, I’ll answer first.
I’m afraid I’ll be embarrassed when I fail. I fear that when I take risks that offer no guarantee of success, I’m jeopardizing my reputation—my status in the eyes of others. I’ll look stupid, naive, weak, or a fraud. This experience, I imagine, will lead to rejection and loss of opportunity. And on and on that downward spiral of fear can take me.
Misplaced Belief and the Way Forward
At the root of these fears of embarrassment, loss, isolation, and rejection is my perceived need of others’ acceptance and approval. Do you have a similar perceived need?
If so, know that our shared, imagined need is deeply rooted in our human conditioning. And our imaginations are out of sync with the way life IS!
Freedom from that fear of not meeting that imagined need for others’ approval and acceptance rests in my willingness to experience the rejection and disapproval of others.
Ouch! That sounds like tough medicine.
And herein lies one of the great ironies of the universe. Freedom comes in facing, not running from, our fears.
Accepting LIFE as it IS
Since I have NO ability to control how anyone thinks about me, accepting potential rejection (let’s be honest, inevitable rejection), I’m simply accepting the way life IS. And when I resist life as it IS, then I lose every time—fighting the proverbial losing battle. Only the conditioning deceives me into thinking I have some ability to control others and that I need to control them to be OK.
Yes, experiencing others’ rejection and disapproval is real. My flesh and blood self, the Conditioned Self, will experience the very real sensations those emotions of rejection and disapproval generate. BUT my true self, the Timeless Self, is completely untouched by such momentary, fleeting sensory experiences. When I fully accept life as it IS (accept that I can’t control other people and some people will reject me) then I’m free!!
And that freedom is priceless! That freedom emboldens me. From that freedom, which my Timeless Self gives me, I can take consistent action, try new things, evaluate the results, ask for help—all the things needed to succeed through the process of failing.
Success really does come through failure and failure is absolutely essential for growth. All part of that magical, mysterious dance of LIFE!
Freedom emerges from accepting failure as inevitable, as part of life. Fear of failure is rooted in an unacknowledged, irrational belief that failure is the end of the story. And we often hold that irrational belief at an unconscious level. In reality, however, growth and success emerge from working through failure! Even more ironic, running from the fear of failure greatly increases the odds that failure will be the end of the story.
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash