Fear is like a toxic poison – it seems you can’t get rid of it by any means and it prevents you from living the life you always wanted to live. I was being “poisoned” with fear for myself and continuously worried about the events that might take place in the future, which included – besides many other things – messing up with my grades or not being able to master the defiances of my life. Even though I wasn’t a scared chicken at all, fear remained a part of my thoughts and often prevented me from falling asleep. Generally speaking I would say that all my worries had one thing in common: the fear of failure.
Overcome the fear of failure
#1 Having the right mindset about failure
When I was about 20 years old, I’ve made an interesting conclusion that would help me to view failure from a completely different perspective. I started to acknowledge failure as exactly what it is: an unavoidable part of everyone’s life – nothing more and nothing less. I knew that I had failed in the past and that I was going to fail every once in a while in the future, even if I did my very best to avoid this. There was simply no way around it, so I started to change my attitude towards failure in general. I realized that, even though I experienced every failure as a dolorous event that slammed me on the ground, every one of them helped me in the long term to become the man that I am today. My failures had not only helped me to improve myself and avoid similar mistakes in the future, but also opened up many other opportunities and chances for me; I just had to spot and identify them.
#2 What’s better: failing vs. not having tried at all?
I nearly forgot to tell you what the “interesting conclusion” was I’ve talked about in the above. Back when I was 20 years old I had realized that there was only one way for me to avoid every failure straight away from the beginning: by not trying at all, which is – at least for me – identical to not having lived anyways. I reasoned that the sole attempt of trying to avoid any kind of failure by any means would lead to the irrevocable mistake of not trying at all, which isn’t a promising option.
#3 Imagining the “grandparents-scenario”
When I’m an old man, I would like to tell my grandchildren about all the challenges I endured during my life, laugh with them about the clumsy mistakes I made and show them all kinds of opportunities that have come into my life after I had failed. Nevertheless, one thing that I never ever want to have to tell my grandchildren are the words, “it could have been“! I really don’t want to look back on my life only to discover all the great chances and exciting events I’ve missed, because of my fear of the possibility to fail every once in a while. The – what I call – “grandparents-scenario” tremendously helps me to clarify that it is not failure I should be worried about, but what results out of this fear: being too scared to do what I had planned to do!
#4 Taking one step at a time
When we’re facing really big challenges in our lives, we tend to get overwhelmed quite fast, simply by looking at the full extent of what lies in front of us. The most likely response towards this unknown situation is fear, which finally might paralyze and prevent us from approaching the challenge. The best advice that can be given in these situations is to approach the challenge one step at a time, even if you might experience some fear. Doing so will help you to get used to the new situation and will reduce your fears of the possibility that you could fail, especially when you experience your first sense of achievement.
And always keep in mind… There is no reason to be afraid of failure, if you never want to ask yourself the question, “what would have happened, if I had tried?”
Steve is a student and blogger and writes on his blog about personal development, methods to think outside the box, tips for students and motivation techniques, amongst many other interesting topics.