How do I Cope with a Fear of Failure?

Felicia Dye

To overcome the fear of failure, you need to understand the extent of the damage that can be caused by it. Once you have done that, you need to identify invisible critics, eliminate their standards, and develop standards of your own. Then, you should challenge yourself by making a commitment that puts you in a position where you can demonstrate your ability to succeed and thereby build your confidence.

Woman with a headache
Woman with a headache

You need to begin by understanding how damaging the fear of failure is for many people. The effects of this fear on you personally will depend on the severity of your condition. In some cases, however, people who are extremely skilled or talented miss notable opportunities because they have negative assumptions about the future. Such fears can also affect peoples' attitudes toward relationships.

The reasons a person develops a fear of failure can vary. Often, people with this problem have been subjected to ongoing criticism that has severely damaged their confidence. This may have come from a parent or an intimate partner, but the individuals may not be completely aware that another person's actions are the cause of this problem.

When you find yourself fearing that you will not succeed, you should take note of who you are worried about disappointing. You are likely to notice patterns of thinking that revolve around you being scared that your mother or your husband will find out that you tried but were unsuccessful. You may also notice patterns of thinking that involve you judging your capabilities by other peoples' assessment of you. When this is the case, you must work hard to eliminate the invisible critic. You need to be able to assess your own abilities and skills and to act accordingly.

You also need to develop realistic perspectives on success and failure. Few people succeed without mistakes. Many attempt to achieve a goal several times before they actually do so. It is the process of failing that provides many individuals with the resources they need to accomplish their goals. You should not view failure as a measure of your character or personal value, but rather as a part of the achievement process.

It is likely that your fear of failure prevents you from having an accurate measure of failing. You probably mistake obstacles and difficulty as defeat and then use those to confirm thoughts that you should never attempt to do certain things again. This is another destructive thought pattern you should learn to identify. Instead of allowing yourself to succumb to these thoughts, defeat them by concentrating on developing solutions when you foresee problems.

Since you recognize that you have a fear of failure, you probably also recognize the types of things it prevents you from doing. Challenge yourself by committing to something you would generally be scared to do. Make sure it is something you cannot easily cower out of later. Once you have a solid commitment, you will be faced with two options — to allow yourself to fail or to prevent yourself from failing. Each time you do this and succeed, it should help you overcome your fears so you can act on other opportunities with more confidence.

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