If asked to define failure, loss, or unexpected and un-welcomed change, how would you do so? And by defining what it means to you, and how it has impacted your life, what would you say is your relationship with failure?
What stops people in their tracks from initiating and pursuing goals, is often what they describe as fear of failure. This “fear,” more correctly identified as anxiety, I consider a feeling of discomfort with the experience of vulnerability rather than true bodily fear or anxiety. This discomfort is made so much worse when people who fail to achieve or complete something move from saying “I failed” to “I’m a failure.”
These statements are problematic on multiple levels:
– First, is the misuse of the word fear; in all likelihood, there is no imminent danger or threat.
– Second, when the statement moves from “I failed” to “I am a failure,” the individual is engaged in faulty thinking, bad emotional math, emotional avoidance/distraction, and harsh self-criticism – a “bad” action does not equal a “bad” self.
The most common outcomes follow: feeling worse and withdrawing from one’s intended pursuits. This type of thinking limits the possibility of building confidence and resilience.
Yet, when many experience failure, people may want to stop pursuing their dreams and goals because the result wasn’t what they wanted. And they turn the failure at a task into a judgment that, as a person, they are a failure.
Fear of failure and fear of taking risks is really about avoiding or backing away from the undesired feeling outcome (e.g., anger, disappointment, frustration) of things not turning out how you wanted.
The key to handling failure, fear of failure, and risk-taking is to be able to handle the unpleasant feelings that you might experience as you pursue your goals and dreams.
Failures = Learning Opportunities
I want to encourage you to consider failure just an opportunity to learn since you didn’t achieve the outcome you desired, at the time you desired it.
Keep in mind that success will always involve progress, persistence and perseverance.
This weeks action steps:
1. If you are concerned about failure, think about what it is about failure that really trips you up.
2. What’s your solution to the aspects of failure that seemingly hold you back?
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