How to Gain Mastery Over Fear of Failure

Copyright 2006 Sandra Sinclair

Do you find yourself floundering about aimlessly in life? Do you feel as if you cannot seem to achieve happiness, no matter how hard you try? You may not realize it, but your failure to reach your dreams may be caused by your own fear – most likely, a fear of failure. That’s right; you might actually be keeping yourself down and standing in your own way of success – in your relationships, your career, or other aspects of your life.

It may seem absurd to hear that you are stopping yourself from finding happiness, but a fear of failure is more common than you may think. A person who has a fear of failure either never works toward his dreams or self-sabotages his own attempts, because he is afraid of being unable to achieve what he desires.

Have you ever been interested in someone but never approached that special person because you were afraid of rejection? Or, perhaps you never applied for a great job because you decided you wouldn’t be qualified enough for the job anyway. Maybe you never took a class in a hobby or activity that interests you because you thought you might not be that great at it.

Or perhaps you did take those beginning steps to start that new relationship or project, but early on you found yourself distracted, dissatisfied, stuck, and then sabotaged your efforts, or gave up before you had a chance to truly fail.

All of these examples are symptoms of a person with a fear of failure.

Rather than risk the possibility of failing, you simply do nothing at all, or sabotage your plans. And guess what happens? You watch that person you are interested in move on with his or her life, you stand by as others start their own businesses or land the jobs of their dreams, or you continue to yearn to try that great hobby or activity you’ve always been interested in, convinced that those things just aren’t in the cards for you.

Overcoming your fear of failure takes a rewriting of your self-talk. It may be time to question your beliefs up until now. You may need to ask yourself “What do I want and why?” and then,”Do I actually believe what I’ve been told about my abilities or about my deserving this?” If the answer to the latter question is “Yes”, then you may need to ask yourself “Why do I believe that?”

A limiting belief can come from the input of just one or two people in your life. Think about it. Did someone tell you something was not possible for you early on, and did you just accept what they said, unquestioning? If so, perhaps these beliefs need to be disassembled and reconstructed in a different way for you to move forward.

Readjusting your global beliefs about what you are able to do or deserve can be as simple or complex as you make it. Nothing you’ve done up until now forecasts how you will do in the future, unless you believe that’s true.

It’s actually a decision on your part to start anew, and not hold the past or destructive opinions as important to you any longer. If you think it’s going to take a long time to change, overcome, and adjust your thinking – well, that’s just another belief that you can choose to disassemble and reconstruct in a new way, if you wish. You may want to look at all of your beliefs about what is possible and ask these questions. You choose what you believe. No one else can do that for you.

Goal setting is another important step. To start with goal setting, take a look at your life as you are currently living and decide where you would like to see yourself five years from now. Then, sit down and develop a plan for reaching that goal. Break down the plan into small steps, with each one building on the previous step. Keep breaking the steps down into smaller and smaller bits until they start to feel doable. Remember that it’s not all or nothing. Baby steps will get you there. You can also choose to surround yourself with people who value what you do, who will champion your efforts, and cheer you on.

As you transform your dreams into reality, talk yourself through each step, celebrating your wins, and questioning any doubtful thoughts that may arise. When a doubtful thought appears, ask yourself “Do I really believe that?” You may be surprised to find that the answer is actually “No”. If the answer is “Yes”, ask yourself why you believe it, and then you can question that too. Only you can choose to dismantle limiting beliefs and instead, choose to believe in yourself, in your abilities, and in your deserving of success on your terms. — Sandra Sinclair