Fifth Week: Overcome Your Worry by Overcoming Your Fear of Failure

Overcome Your Worry by Overcoming Your Fear of Failure

Posted Jan 16, 2009

We've heard unhelpful ideas such as, "Winning is everything" and "How to win and never lose" and "There are winners and losers". It's a lot of hype. Everyone loses sometime. Even the people we admire most have had big losses. Whether it's sports, finance, relationships, academics, medicine, law, construction, or business---we all have to face some losses.

We are not "winners" or "losers". But we do have some experiences, some moments, when we lose and some when we win.

You worry in order to avoid failure

I'll give you an example of someone I know. Let's call him Larry. Now, Larry got his PhD in psychology and took the licensing exam. Much to his surprise he didn't pass the exam. Larry thought he was stupid, a failure, and that everyone who knew him would think he was loser. But, much to his credit, he actually decided to study really hard before he took it the next time. He passed. Years later, he is very successful, with a large practice. Larry was able to bounce back from an experience of failure, try harder, learn more and finally have a successful experience. Larry overcame an obstacle.

Larry was a student of mine years ago and his experience encourages me every time I think about how we need to face failure. His experience with failing at the exam taught me something. The question for you, when you think about the possibility of failing, is, "What about failure is so bad?"

What's so bad about failing?

• I can't stand failing
• If I fail at something, I think that "I AM A FAILURE"
• People will think I'm a loser if I fail.
• I shouldn't try something unless I am sure I won't fail
• If I fail, I might as well give up


Twenty ways to overcome your fear of failing

Your fear of failure has kept you trapped. The good news is that you can change it.

I've developed twenty coping ideas that you might use to help you confront your fear of failure. In fact, you can think about confronting failure as an opportunity to let go with your worry.

Let's see if any of the following twenty coping statements could help you.

1. I didn't fail, my behavior failed
2. I can learn from my failure
3. I can be challenged by my failure
4. I can try harder
5. Maybe it wasn't a failure
6. I can focus on other behaviors that will succeed
7. I can focus on what I can control
8. It wasn't essential to succeed at that
9. There were some behaviors that did pay off
10. Everyone fails at something
11. Maybe no one noticed
12. Did I have the right goal?
13. Failure is not fatal
14. Were my standards too high?
15. Did I do better than before?
16. I can still do everything I always did, even though this failed
17. Failing at something means I tried. Not trying is worse.
18. I've just begun
19. Tomorrow is another success
20. Tomorrow is today

Think about something you are worried about. Perhaps you are worried that you won't do well on a test, or that someone might not like you, or that you might lose some money, or...whatever. Then go through the coping ideas listed above and think about how you could use these.

Let us know. Let us know about what you think is so bad about failing. Let us know how you have learned to cope with that fear. And , let's learn from failing. This is FAILURE 101.

I discuss these coping ideas in my book, The Worry Cure: Seven Steps to Stop Worry from Stopping You.

More later.