Updated: Oct 25, 2021
Almost everyone dislikes failure. Failure can bring about feelings of disappointment, sadness, regret, frustration and anger. In some, this fear is so pronounced, that the motivation to avoid failure is greater than the motivation to succeed, even causing them to unconsciously sabotage their chances of success.
People who avoid failure do so, not because they cannot manage the basic emotions of disappointment, sadness, and anger that tend to go along with the experience, but because failing also makes them feel deeply ashamed. Shame can be a particularly toxic emotion because it makes us feel bad about who we are. Instead of feeling guilt due to our actions or regret over our efforts, shame gets to the depths of ego, self-esteem, or our identity.
Some limiting beliefs that may be associated with shame:
People will think less of me if I fail.
I'm not as capable or smart because of this failure.
The people I value will be disappointed in me.
I don't have the ability to pursue the future that I imagined for myself if I fail.
If the limiting beliefs associated with fear of failure (shame) are Subconscious, the recognition of these beliefs may come in observing repeating patterns of behavior including:
Procrastinating on completing important tasks by focusing on less important tasks or lack of follow-through altogether.
Experiencing physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches that prevent the completion of important tasks.
Telling people ahead of time that you likely won't succeed to manage expectations
Failing at something and then you have trouble identifying what you could have done differently to succeed (thus, turning a failed attempt into a valuable learning for the future).
Recognizing you hold these limiting beliefs or exhibit these patterns of behavior is an important step in managing, if not transforming, the feelings of fear and shame associated with failure, into a feeling of gratitude and confidence.
If you have conscious awareness of fear of failure, the following may be helpful in managing the fear so you can move forward:
Focus on What You Can Control - focus on taking action on important tasks around which you can control (stressing important), as well as reframe aspects of a task that seem out of your control, so that you can take some action. You might be surprised as to how far the momentum from these actions will carry you.
Have a "Plan B" - if you can't help yourself from thinking about the worst-case scenario, spend some time creating a contingency plan if that 'worst-case scenario' were to happen. Thinking this through may help you realize that either the worst-case scenario is not as dire as you imagine OR it will put you at ease knowing you have a safety net.
If you have unconscious limiting beliefs (or even if you have conscious awareness of the fear) and recognize the self-sabotaging behaviors, these techniques can be helpful in transforming these beliefs (fears) into supportive ones, creating a sense of gratitude for the failure:
Breathing Technique - this technique involves pausing for a minute (that's all it usually takes) and taking a deep breath for a count of 7 if possible, holding the breath for a count of 3 and then releasing the breath for a count of 8. You should be able to repeat this 3 times in a minute. It's most helpful to pause and do breathe work immediately upon noticing if you are feeling any of those feelings associated with fear of failures that area mentioned above OR if you're noticing that you are not completing important tasks. Simply taking a moment to re-center in this way, can create the energy to move forward.
PSYCH-K® - this energy psychology modality can help you replace limiting subconscious beliefs with supportive beliefs to transform how you are feeling now, into how you would like to feel instead. This is the actually the method that worked for me in transforming my own fear of failure and inspired me to create Beliefs Transformed.