Fear of Failure is an Obstacle Your Must Overcome on Your Way to Greatness
You think to yourself,
“what am I doing here? I can’t do this! It’s new and I’m going to fail.”
Like Jan tells Pam in an episode of The Office, “There’s always going to be a million reasons not to do something.”
They’re all excuses coming from the same place, that lives in you, in all of us. Do you want to know what’s really stopping you from taking that first step into the unknown?
My parents warned me against becoming a stay-at-home mom.
They were afraid I’d be poor.
You don’t want to go to the dance floor during a wedding.
You’re afraid you’ll embarrass yourself.
The first time I advertised for my business online, I wasn’t legally protected, and I got caught by a third party copyright service. I could have been sued for somewhere around $300,000. I quickly learned my lesson, but every time I tried my hand at blogging or advertising my arranging services, I chickened out and shut it down. Why? I was afraid of it happening again, even AFTER I took precautions and became legally protected.
It doesn’t matter if the things we fear are big or small, all the excuses we make NOT to do something are because of our fear.
Fear is an obstacle standing in your way, preventing you from living your best life.
What is fear, really?
Fear is instinctual.
Fear is primal, and back in the olden days of “outrun that tiger or die”, fear served us very well. Our “lizard brain”, as they call it, helped us decipher our environments and kept us alive. This kind of biochemical fear is hardwired into every one of us.
But we humans are sitting pretty at the top of the food chain. Most of our fears are from our egos, not from our lizard brain.
Fear is incredibly complex and individual to each person.
Some of us even have phobias, which are aspects of anxiety disorders.
But that’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about JUDGMENT or CRITICISM.
I’m talking about fear of FAILURE.
I’m talking about living the same year for 30 years in a row because it’s easier to do the same old thing than it is to step outside our comfort zone.
We’re afraid of our boss’s disappointment, or our children being a burden on others. We’re afraid of making mistakes, failing, and doing EXACTLY what makes us so human in the first place.
You’ve heard the stories about Oprah, JK Rowling, Steve Jobs, and Thomas Edison, among others, and how they failed time and time again before they found success. Their stories would be significantly different had they let fear overcome them and given up on their dreams.
All of us fail.
It’s not even the failure we fear. It’s the ridicule, the whispers, the opinions, and the stares. Most of us believe that failure is the true path to success, but few are willing to walk it because the failure is fine. It’s what others think.
What do others think about my blog?
What do they think about the fact that my son seems behind in his development of verbal skills?
What do they think about my giving up my job?
What do they think about… __________ (fill in the blank as it applies to your life).
Mostly I believe people are good natured, but if you’ve ever read the comments on any viral post on Facebook, you KNOW how ruthless people can get.
And we can’t control their ruthlessness.
We’re subjected to it from all angles and corners. It doesn’t matter HOW good your intentions. If you put yourself out there, you WILL receive criticism.
If you haven’t watched Brene Browns Ted Talk, she describes perfectly how I feel when I receive criticism.
But thankfully, we have defense against those comments. We have the choice to not let them have power over us. It’s immensely difficult, but it can be done.
How to Overcome Fear of Judgment or Criticism
1. Practice non-attachment.
In other words, we can’t take things personally. As we’ve learned, when someone criticizes you, it’s not really about you. It’s about their own fear.
And when you’re struggling with your own fear coming over you, allowing yourself the same compassion to not take thing personally can give yourself the permission to separate your fear and your judgment.
Because there is nothing that your lizard brain can do about someone calling you a name! If you learn to separate the two, understanding and moving past criticism becomes much easier.
Releasing attachment or expectations allows you to overcome fear.
2. Practice compassion
Compassion is defined as the ability to understand the emotional state of another person or oneself.
This means that we assume the best in others. (And self-compassion is assuming the best in ourselves.)
Sometimes, even when we don’t feel particularly happy about something, friendly toward someone, or warm toward an idea, if we pretend, it opens doorways we didn’t know were there.
If you meet someone with compassion, they are more likely to drop the judgment and match your energy.
And if they don’t? Refer to #1.
3. Practice affirmations
Affirmations have the wonderful ability to move powerful change within us. That is because they are all about mindset. They help us to focus on the positive, release the negative, and get away from the lizard brain.
When you are able to get back into your higher thinking brain (and out of the fight or flight response) you’re able to think critically about criticism, understand it better, and even form positive emotions and associations with your criticism.
New to Affirmations? Start Here!:
What are Affirmations and How do They Work?
4. Get into the Present Moment
If you’re able to get out of your head and into the physical world, you will notice that you start to feel more peaceful.
As Lao Tzu said:
If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.
The present moment is incredibly powerful, because it allows you to handle problems as they arise instead of worrying about them before they happen.
Here are a few ideas to get out of your “Fight or Flight” response and get into the present moment:
- Do something physical like go on a run or lift some weights
- Practice meditation
- Do a braindump
- Practice gratitude
You might also like:
Dr. Joe Dispenza Quotes and Affirmations to Build Your New Mindset
Whenever I drag my feet it is because I fear what comes next. But sometimes you just have to take the plunge. You never know how you will react to fear and criticism until you meet it. And you will never meet it by staying in your safe little comfort zone. It may not be as bad as you think!
So whatever you’ve been putting off, whatever you’ve wanted to do but haven’t, whatever you want for your life…
…release the fear, step up, and do it!
What are some ways that you release your fears to take on a challenge head on?
Have you ever overcome fear in a huge way? Tell me below!