Have you ever felt like a failure? I totally have. But I am not alone. There is an epidemic of feelings of failure in our country. And failure is so definitive. When you think you failed, there is not much wiggle room to be anything other than “a failure.” A horrible way to see yourself! This becomes a belief ingrained and tainting everything else we do and try.
Here are four ways to weaken your fear of failure:
1. Lower Your Expectations
Failure is in relation to something. Usually some standard or expectation that was not met: I am not thin enough, pretty enough, smart enough. Having unreasonable expectations is more detrimental on our health than anything else. It brings in judgment, which compounds every other problem we already have.
When we have a feeling which is appropriate to the situation, and then we judge ourselves, and worry, the problem becomes so much bigger and harder to recover from. On top of that, we berate ourselves for not recovering quickly–yet another layer of judgment. The original feeling is peanuts compared to the complex mess layers of judgment and fear add.
Don’t add them. Allow yourself to feel. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself, lower those outrageous expectations! Instead of dwelling, do something (How to Turn Anxiety Into Action).
2. Know there is a point to trying
Past feelings of failure attempt to take away the point to trying to feel better, accomplish something. We get convinced that we will fail anyway (Signs That You Live With the Fear of Failure). We assume trying hard will make us more disappointed when we do actually fail, and so we put less effort in in hopes to protect our heart. With less effort, we may actually not achieve our goal and we can say “See? I always fail. Good thing I did not try.”
There is a point. Rarely is anything accomplished without trying. And if we try and don’t succeed, our heart actually feels better, not worse. We build confidence knowing that we did our best. We feel empowered because we can respond to things in life.
3. Notice your accomplishment
Simple. See the good in you instead of the bad. Focus on something else beside that one standard you missed. Have confidence in the efforts you did put forth. Notice other things you received from the process, like friends you’ve made along the journey, what you learned, and how it made you grow. Remember other accomplishments in your life (Be Less Anxious and Overwhelmed: Celebrate Accomplishments).
4. Remember it is not over
We sometimes assume we failed too soon. Then we feel devastated and stop trying. If you are still alive, you could not have failed, since it is not over. Yes, your standards and expectation might change, but if you are still kicking, you cannot by definition be a failure. Readjust your expectations and try again.