From Fear and Paralysis to Positive Action

Copyright 2006 Sandra Sinclair

When you feel paralyzed about taking action toward a desired goal, fear of failure could be a possible reason. Fear of failure can be a huge obstacle to taking positive action toward your desired outcomes, because so much personal esteem and happiness can depend on the outcome. After all, attempting something important to you, only to fail at accomplishing it, can potentially make you feel less than capable or deserving, or even crushed at the outcome. So in order to prevent this from happening, it’s often easier to just never try at all.

If trying and not reaching your desired goal would feel terrible, then dreaming about it and not taking action can feel far more comfortable. That way, you can dream about what you want and then create reasons for inaction to make yourself feel better about never trying to reach your goal. You may even convince yourself that you could do it, but rather than risk failure, you can just dream, and stay safe. This is a natural, self-protective mechanism. Your mind is truly brilliant, and knows how to protect you from getting hurt.

To change fear of failure into a force for positive action, you may have to change your thinking about what your desired outcome means to you in terms of your own happiness. This may surprise you, because what I’m suggesting is quite different from what we usually hear. We’re usually told something like: “If you don’t want it enough, you’ll never get there”, “Nothing easy is worth having”… etc. Or even the much more seemingly innocuous “What would make you happy?” The overall message is that if it’s worth having, it’s going to involve a lot of pain and struggle, but to achieve happiness, you must achieve this outcome.

However, if your very happiness is riding on the success or failure of this venture, you can literally block yourself from trying, because so much is riding on the result.

So at this point, you can ask yourself these questions:

How much do I need to achieve this outcome in order to be happy?

If I was still able to desire my goal without actually needing it in order to be happy, what would happen? In other words, can I accept reaching or not reaching my desired outcome and still be happy?

What would happen if I chose to be happy right now?

You may say that having this attitude of happiness now could cause you to lose motivation for your goal, your purpose, or motivation for anything, for that matter, but I have another proposal for you: What if actually being happy right now, whether or not you accomplish your desired outcome, actually made you more powerful in reaching it? You may find that wanting a goal without attachment to the outcome can change paralysis into positive, inspired action.

Does this attitude change guarantee that you’ll reach your goal? No, you may not reach your desired outcome, even with this attitude. However, you’re probably much more likely to achieve what you want through happiness and ease than through efforting and struggling against fear of failure and paralysis.

You may also say that it’s not that simple to just “decide” to be happy – that it’s not the way the world works. But the truth is that happiness is a decision, just as unhappiness is a decision. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. It’s a decision that’s independent of your past experience, and of others’ actions and opinions, unless you wish it so. No one can tell you what to believe or think. Any beliefs that were handed to you early on about the way the world works, what you’re supposed to feel or what you’re capable of are only truthful if you decide that they are.

You decide your own truth, every moment.

Sandra Sinclair