Alexandra Dobbs
Sophrologist and Hypnotherapist
Alexandra Dobbs
Sophrologist and Hypnotherapist

How can I reduce my fear of failing?

02 Jun 2022 Alexandra Dobbs

You sometimes think I'm scared, I don't dare, I'm going to fail, I'm not going to make it... and, consequently, you don't act, you postpone and postpone again, you renounce... and that because you are afraid of failing? In this article, you will find ideas for changing your point of view about failure and which can help you no longer be paralyzed by the fear of failure.

2 pieces of a chess game

What is failure?

One could define failure, in a factual matter, as a goal that has not been achieved. There is no notion of good or bad derived from this definition. And yet… failure, for many of us, generates an unpleasant emotion that can go as far as guilt or shame.

A culture of failure or a culture of rebound

The perception of failure is partly personal and partly cultural.

In countries where failure is frowned upon, like in France, and where clear courses of life are valued, it can be difficult to get started and think outside the box. When the culture of failure is dominant, it is better to lead a life with few challenges, because the probability of failure is then lower. But in fact, the probability of exceeding oneself is therefore also low. In a culture of failure, it is therefore the fear of failure that dominates. It dominates the idea that to miss is "to be a failure".

Conversely, there is the culture of rebound, as in the United States and in Scandinavian countries. In this case, after each failure, it is considered possible to bounce back and transform past difficulties into present strengths.

Thinking about failure differently

Our fear or "non-fear" when facing an eventual failure is therefore conditioned by what we think of it and the experience we have had of it. Would you like to envisage failure differently? If so, start by taking the example of the baby who learns to walk, fails many times, tries, falls… He falls mainly  because his legs are not muscular enough. It is because he falls and makes the effort to get up that he develops the muscles that will allow him, in time, to stand up and walk. These failures are mandatory; otherwise he will not succeeed. And no one would think of not encouraging him!

The virtues of failure

To go further, in his book "The virtues of failure", Charles Pépin, writer and philosopher, offers us to take another look at failure. According to him, there is not just one virtue in failing, but several: there are failures which induce an insistence of the will, those which allow it to be relaxed, those which give us the strength to persevere in the same way, and those who give us the impetus to change. There are failures that make us more combative, those that make us wiser, and then there are those that simply make us available for something else.

 

Here, in more detail, are some of the virtues of failure that Charles Pépin invites us to explore:
Failure to learn faster: failure allows us to learn faster. Successes are pleasant but often less instructive than failures. According to the American adage "fail fast, learn fast" expresses the idea that if one experiences failure quickly, one will learn quickler. Failure then does not exist, as long as we get up and try something else. The one who failed and then succeeded is even better regarded in the United States than the one who succeeded on the first try.
Error as the only means of understanding: there is no scientist who does not arrive at a truth without having first gone through the error box. What turns a “normal” mistake into a painful failure is only the way we experience it: the feeling of failure. A feeling of failure from which we can protect ourselves with the culture of error, by remembering how human error is, in the sense that error is the properly human way of learning.
The crisis as a window that opens: we tend to see failure as a door that closes. Every problem can also be seen as a disguised opportunity. Failure would therefore be the essential component to succeed or discover something else.
Failure to affirm one's character: it allows us to forge ourselves and allows us to affirm our character. It is sometimes a sum of failures that explains the extraordinary energy and perseverance that allows some to succeed, sometimes also making them develop a certain humility.

Failure as an experience of reality: we must find the will to change what we can change, and the strength not to seek to change what we cannot change.
Failure as a chance to reinvent oneself: the power of failure can nourish us, allow us to reinvent ourselves by being directed towards another idea/solution, towards a path that had not even been forseen initially.

How to successfully succeed

It is just as important to learn how to overcome your failures as it is to successfully succeed; for that it seems necessary to consider successes as failures. Savor them, of course, but don't dwell on them more than is needed and don't take them for granted, like the recipe to be applied relentlessly. On the contrary, one must continue to test and invent.

How to learn how to dare

According to Charles Pépin, we are not born daring but we become daring as we try, fail and succeed. Audacity depends on experience and requires increasing one's competence, mastering one's comfort zone to get out of it. Audacity requires also increasing one's competence, admiring the audacity of others and not being too perfectionist.

 

Failure is in no way final, it is simply a step in our journey. You only really fail when you never try!

Sophrology and Hypnosis: taming the fear of failure

To go further and transform your relationship to failure in the long term: by being supported and guided during a session, according to your needs, you will be able to explore and tame your fears, digest a failure, change your perception of failure, prepare yourself for an event, learn not to be overwhelmed by your thoughts, which are "just thoughts"...  
 
Exercise to work on your fear of failure

  • What scares me about failure? What am I afraid of? What's the problem if I fail?
  • What do I need? How can I meet my needs?
  • What do I want to think about failure? How could I see things differently so that it would be more useful to me?
  • What are my past failures? What did they teach me? How did they allow me to become the person I am today?
  • What would I be willing to do if failure was not a problem for me?

Exercises to increase your tolerance for failure

  • For each failure, note what positive thing it brought. Ditto for each success
  • Reflect on the causes that led to failure and draw conclusions. Ditto for each success
  • Act, even if you are afraid. It is the fact of taking the plunge, a small step at first, then bigger ones, which helps us to push back the fear and to better live with failures. Plan ahead, knowing that you cannot anticipate everything and simply try. And try again.
  • Accept imperfection: who I am does not depend on my successes or my failures. Note what you are doing wrong or what creates difficulties for you, but also what you are doing well and what are you succeeding in. And accept thatyou can become better, but never perfect!
  • Remain calm and lucid: the more one fails, lives, succeeds, advances, the more one learns to no longer be disappointed in the face of failure, nor disproportionate in the face of success. The idea is not to become indifferent, but to remain calm and lucid, as much in the face of failure as in the face of success.

Sources


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