Fear of failure: The fear of looking inward at the judgements we have of ourselves for the fear that they might be true. And if they are then we perceive ourselves as a failure.
Admitting to yourself you have a fear of failure can leave you believing you are a failure.
Yes, we even believe we are a failure if we have a fear of failure, go figure.
Fear of failure is seen as people being scared of trying things because they are scared they are going to fail. This is true for some areas of people’s lives, however, generally what is holding people back from doing and trying things is a fear of success
Fear of failure will drive you to
- only do the things you know you can do, to keep you protected from failing, or
- focus on and be absorbed in activities that you need to succeed in. This is so that we can prove your fear wrong. You feel vulnerable about what if they don’t work out, what else do I do. And in doing so it leaves you blind and deaf to the reality of the situation. Then things may not work out and if they don’t, you judge yourself as a failure.
WHERE FEAR OF FAILURE COMES FROM
Fear of failure comes from our past and the expectations that were put on us. Ones that we believe we had to live up to. Not meeting these expectations meant we were judged and rejected.
Or we were seen as a failure and the expectations were ones we lived down to. And we were still judged and rejected. Then we have a fear of success.
These expectations and judgements have come from others. They either said them directly to us or they were implied in their action or non-action.
We take these judgements and expectations on board and make them our own. Then we add to them by creating our own.
Judgements about our appearance, work, relationships, finances and parenting ability. About our health, intelligence, possessions, certain tasks we do and even the car we drive.
Judgements that we were not good enough, we’re not going to be a success and that we are irrelevant. That we are not worthy, that we are dumb, we will never have enough and we will not be able to afford things. As well as we won’t be a good parent, we are not a good boss, a capable employee and that we won’t amount to anything. And even that we may not be loveable.
The deepest fear driving our fear of failure – what if the judgements are true.
IMPACT OF FEAR OF FAILURE
We create expectations of ourselves that drive us in our need to know we are not a failure.
We have to win, get it right, be perfect, be the best, have the best, be most the visible and be known the most. And a whole range of other types of expectations. They put so much pressure on us because they are driven by fear and emotion.
We live our lives based on what we want to prove.
Our focus on what we are doing becomes obsessive, fixated and narrow focused. We give it our all and we even identify with what we are doing. And we are the business, we are the sport, we are the parent that is perfect, we are in the perfect relationship. We are so vulnerable and scared that if we don’t have what we are clinging on to, we will have nothing.
We fill our neediness to be of success, to be of value and to be valued. This ultimately fills our neediness to feel safe and secure, so that we believe we are not those judgements and we do not feel like a failure.
At the expense of what and whom?
We focus on what is working because that is what we want to see. And we don’t want to see what isn’t working, what needs addressing, what needs changing and developing because to do so would mean we are a failure.
Ponder on the times you have experienced a fear of failure, feel it internally. What you notice is that the energy gets caught in your chest or throat. This is not surprising, as a fear of failure prevents us from diving deep into ourselves to look at what we don’t like about ourselves and what we have done that we are not happy about. As well as what we are missing out on, what we are not taking responsibility for, what we have been avoiding and ultimately what we are in denial about.
Why, because to do so would reinforce our belief that we are a failure.
What we do
We surround ourselves externally and internally with a protective wall, protecting ourselves from our truth and reality. And we don’t want to hear anything that highlights what is not working and what is wrong with us or the situation we are in. Or that what we are doing that is not good for us, because to do so in our world would mean we were a failure and those people from the past would be right.
We surround ourselves with people who reinforce our belief that everything is ok and going to be ok. We need to know that we are on the right track that we are a great person, as this helps us stay protected from our truth. It also justifies our action to keep going.
We focus on what we do well and what is wonderful about our life. As well as what is going to happen, our dreams and the opportunities that might happen and the reality we have created in our head. We don’t want to face our vulnerability and admit the truth.
EXAMPLES OF FEAR OF FAILURE
I watched a TV programme that involved a man who is a healer in a competition. The more involved he was, the more competitive he became and the angrier he got. He kept voicing “this is not who I am, I want people to see me for who I truly am”. The angrier he got, the angrier he got at himself. He had expectations that as a healer he was to be the gentle, warrior healer and this is what he wanted others to see. His expectation kept him in avoidance of the healing that he still had to do, the healing of his anger. It appeared in his behaviour that being angry as a healer meant he was a failure, rather than he is a healer who is a human who is healing.
Individuals who experience financial problems, whether it be personally or professionally, often don’t admit it. Then the debtors take them to court, or they have their possessions repossessed. Now it is too late for them to influence the outcomes of their situation. Why do they do this – to admit they have financial problems means they are a failure.
Individuals who are in relationships that believe everything is wonderful and they get home and their partner has cleaned out the house and taken the children, and they say “I never saw this coming”. The messages were there. They had the feelings and the signs were there. They choose not to see them or listen to them because admitting their relationship was not working, meant it was a failure.
MY FEAR OF FAILURE
I had always given so much weight to the process of fear of success and this was my area for growth. As a result, it kept me from seeing the things I was doing and the areas of my life where I had a fear of failure. I had been a failure, so believed I did not have a problem with owning failure. However, I did.
I asked myself the following questions (you may want to ask yourself the questions) and I discovered two key areas where I had had a fear of failure.
- What areas of my life have I not wanted to admit something to myself?
- What is it in my life I have not wanted to see and own?
Can you feel that gut reaching squelch at the bottom of your stomach – well if you can this is great because the energy and focus (as described earlier) has moved from your upper chest and throat to your truth.
I didn’t want to admit that I was not a financial success in my businesses or with my businesses – even that is an interesting distinction that I wrote both in my and with my businesses, I will explore this shortly.
In my eyes, I had amazing businesses. We did amazing work and many people gained so much from our involvement with them. We struggled financially for some time. My belief from many years before – “I am only in business to cover costs” was still impacting my decision making and actions. I chose not to admit this.
Admitting we were not financially successful, that we were struggling and just getting through. And that I had to find something different to do other than the businesses, meant I was a failure. What else could I do, where else could I go, what other value did I have to offer, I am not a good business person etc. The self-judgments went on and on and on. I did not want to admit these things to me.
In my business and with my business
Not being a financial success in my business, I believed meant I was not good with money.
Damn wrong. I was very good at managing the amount of money we did receive. What I was not good at was making more money.
Not being a financial success with my business, meant I was not successful in running a business and making successful choices for the business.
Well hello. Who started two businesses from scratch and employed the people who helped us gain successful registration as a Registered Training Organisation. And this was from our initial application and first audit and we continued to do so with our post registration audit.
What I was not good at was diversifying the business’s funding streams to support its financial stability. Why? Because of my fear of success again.
I believed if I closed the business and got another job I was a failure. How wrong I was.
In what you are doing, you have to succeed, to get it right and be the best. Anything less means failure. So people try and try and try to win, complete or finish something over and over again. And it never happens. It wasn’t meant to be. Maybe it was an experience that has relevance at some time in the future, rather than being a failure.
WHAT TO DO
Look at and admit what needs improving, addressing, developing and changing. As well as what is working and what is great about you and what you are doing.
You will know what to do and which direction to head in. Whether it is continuing with what you have started and changing, developing and adapting it. Learn from what you have experienced and move to where you are meant to be. This is so you can do what you are meant to be doing.
Rather than spending energy, money and time focusing on trying to make something happen that isn’t happening, look at the reality of the situation, rather than through emotional eyes and ears.
The term failure is a judgment. Only you are judging you, and only you can cease this. The key is to work towards trusting what you know is the right thing for you and following this. Then each experience will be just that, an experience, an experience you can gain so many benefits from.
SEE THE REALITY AND TRUTH
To be whole in yourself and to influence your life more powerfully you need to see the whole picture of everything and everyone. This is so that you face the truth and see reality. This enables you to make more informed choices, rather than coloured ones, for your life.
Have the trust that looking at what is not working for you and what needs healing. And what needs developing and or improving in yourself and your life. This only means that there are areas you can do something with to change, improve and enhance them. In addition ensure you recognize and own what is wonderful, of value and what you do, do well.
You will then truly know what is right and not right for you.
I owned where I was at with the businesses and consciously made a choice to put the businesses into liquidation. If I had stayed in my fear of failure not admitting what was happening, others would have initiated the liquidation. If that had happened I would not have been able to influence the outcomes I experienced. Instead, I would have been at the mercy of others dictating that for me.
Own your truth for you, see the reality of situations and make decisions that are right for you.
SELF FACILITATION ACTIVITY
Grab a pen and paper and do what I term FREE WRITING. Don’t think about what you are writing but write down everything that goes through your head. It does not have to make sense. The objective of the process is for you to explore your process around fear of success and process it out. You will know you have finished when there is nowhere else to go with your processing. May you make some discoveries and gain some insights.
If you would like to email me a question or explore anything, please do so on the contact page. I will get back to you as soon as I can
PROCESSING YOUR FEAR OF FAILURE:
- Identify the areas of your life you know you are scared of failing in?
- Why are you scared of failing in these areas?
- What would it mean if you failed in these areas?
- What is it you are not seeing or admitting to yourself about these areas?
- How is this impacting you and your life?
- If you fail what does that mean about you as a person?
- What is your fear of failure preventing you from having and doing in your life?
- What if you viewed these areas as needing addressing, changing and or developing then how can you approach it differently? And what can you do about them?