Being afraid of failure is a problem we all share. And just like any other irrational fear, it exists only in our head, but often prevents us from taking any action and thus we never reach our full potential.

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As I’ve mentioned here, there are two types of fear. Rational – that keeps us alive, and irrational – that scares us, but can’t really harm us.

The second one comes in many forms. And one of the most common is fear of failure.

It can make you so insecure about yourself and your abilities, so scared that what you want to try won’t work out, and so discouraged, that you can easily leave behind all your projects and never try anything new.

If it wasn’t for this fear, so many other forms of art would exist, so many more books would be published, ideas executed and goals achieved.

Being afraid to fail is much worse than it sounds. It can paralyze you once you start getting closer to your dreams. It can prevent you from sleeping at night, from living in peace, from having healthy relationships.

And if you don’t handle it on time, you will find yourself stuck in your comfort zone. And as we all know, nothing exciting ever happens there.

How to deal with fear of failure

  1. Notice it.

You’re afraid of failing. Accept that. It’s not good, but it’s not bad either because you can overcome it.

  1. Accept your mistakes.

It’s crucial to know how to be okay with your past failures. They are what made you the person you are today. And may have been more helpful than you realize.

So learn how to live with all your wrong choices. They are a part of you.

  1. Get to know the fear.

Notice when it occurs, how you feel, and what happens in your mind. Become familiar with it.
You need to know something inside out in order to deal with it.

  1. Imagine the worst case scenario.

What’s the worst thing that can happen? Try to analyze all the outcomes and see how far you can get.
Exaggerating can help you realize how ridiculous it all is.

If you fear that you might not succeed in something you want to do, then ask yourself what it is that you’re going to lose. Most of the times, it’s nothing. You just go back to the life you lived before having this idea or goal.

And if you get fired? Will that ruin your life? Or can you just find something else until you figure out what to do?

Most things just look scary. And we basically experience the fatal outcome itself in our heads all the time. Which makes us paranoid.

  1. Let go.

Once you get to know the phobia, you can just let it be and not get back to it anymore.

You can now be free to live your life, to say ‘yes’ to the things that previously scared you, and to expand your horizons.

The life you’re dreaming of is just on the other side of your comfort zone. It’s waiting for you, and will only be possible if you let go of the fear of failure and move on.

“The phoenix must burn to emerge.”
Janet Fitch

So what kind of failure are you afraid of? And is it really as possible to happen as you imagine?

See also:

Why you should never be afraid of failure?
Turn failure into success
Why we all have fear of failure
13 ways to overcome it

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Lidiya K

Lidiya K

Author, blogger and podcaster in the fields of self-improvement and life hacking. Creator of Let's Reach Success.
Full-time freelance writer. Lifestyle designer.
Lidiya K

6 Comments

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  1. Hey! I think that generally, your analysis is spot on. We all need to embrace new scary challenges more often. 🙂 However, do you think there is any fear of failure that is not irrational?

    Seems to me that the single parent considering quitting their job for a startup actually has a lot to be concerned about. And the college student about to graduate with a ton of debt has pretty good reason to be afraid.

    I think that in some situations, fear of failure is legitimate. But we shouldn’t let it paralyze us; instead, our fear should spur us on to do better and prepare more, so that next time, we won’t have reason to be afraid.

    1. The thing is, fear of failure makes us see only the bad in the situation. But if our mind is clear once we let go of it, we’ll be free to judge things and know the pros and cons.

      The student knew he would graduate and start his life with a huge debt when he began studying,
      The single parent must have carefully planned out all the next steps and have saved enough money to sustain himself and the kid for at least a few months, if he wants to work on his own and do what he loves. Until then, he’ll have to hustle early in the morning, late at night, or during breaks at work, just like many other people did before they quit their 9-5 job.

      Personally, I don’t think fear of failure is healthy.
      The ways I solved the two problems you mentioned included logical thinking, planning ahead, etc. But fear a failure seems to be just one of the limitations we set that prevent us from moving forward.

      Thanks a lot for sharing your opinion. It’s an important topic and different points are welcome.

      Best wishes.

  2. The first and foremost one is to recognize that he or she is afraid of something. Many fail in this so they cant overcome it. Once you are aware, you avoid making that fear from controlling your progress..:-)

  3. Great tips. Traveling around fear can easy take over in certain situations, especially when getting outside the comfort zone. Being able to see the fear as “the watcher” in your mind I find helps to transmute it. Using Zen practices are great way to deal with fear.

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