It is natural to experience fear in certain situations; contrary to what many people believe, fear does not represent weakness. Instead, fear functions as a way of preserving our species, trying to keep us from exposing ourselves to dangerous situations.

But paradoxically, fear can turn against us. When our fears are irrational, that is, they do not respond to situations that are really dangerous for us, they become limiting fears. In this article we will see how to overcome the fear of failure , by means of several pieces of advice.

Why are we afraid of failure?

The fear of failure can respond to multiple circumstances. It is an irrational fear of a multifactorial nature. Among the most frequent circumstances are low self-esteem, mismanagement of expectations, dependence on others to perform almost any activity, etc.

This kind of behavior and thinking is mainly those derived from unfounded fears , to know how to overcome the fear of failure we must first be able to recognize in ourselves any of these cognitive distortions.

How to overcome the fear of failure?

In the following lines we will review some effective techniques, which can help greatly in overcoming the irrational fear of failure.

1. Recognize your own emotions

The recognition of one’s own emotions is indispensable to face the fear of failure. When we are able to recognize that we are feeling fear we can face it in a much more effective way than when we refuse to accept it.

Thus, overcoming the fear of failure begins with being able to analyze the situation from which we start and explore those sources of fear, which makes a project scary or distressing.

2. Identify the exact focus of fear

Feeling that we are afraid of failure is something that is quite general, what we must do in these cases is to identify what exactly is motivating our fear, what exact part of the process is generating anxiety and distress .

Once you manage to pinpoint the real reason for your fears, you will know which aspects need to be improved in order to overcome them. It’s all about analysing from the most general to the most specific to find our Achilles’ heel, the one who knows his fears becomes stronger.

3. Motivation techniques

Sometimes the fear of failure can be subject to a generalised lack of motivation . In these scenarios what we must do is strengthen our motivation and contribute to its maintenance over time. There are various personal motivation techniques that can provide you with the solution to your fears.

It is important to keep in mind that motivation can be internal or external; when it is internal it is because we enjoy the process of doing something we like, while when it is external motivation what drives us to fulfill our objectives is the concrete and objective reward we will receive for it.

4. Transform your way of thinking

When we think that failure will follow us everywhere , and that there is nothing we can stand out in, we must stop for a moment and analyze our situation carefully. Ask yourself: do these thoughts make sense? What is stopping me from really achieving success?

When you realize that the main obstacle between success and you is your own thoughts, you will have moved forward on your path by overcoming the fear of being wrong. Success is relative , think of it as an everyday thing. Every day you succeed at something. If you see failure as a learning opportunity for future success, you will take advantage of it.

5. Plan realistic goals

Realistic goals keep us away from the probability of resounding failure, as we plan our goals more assertively we will begin to see our success more attainable and consequently dispel the fear of failure.

We must make a habit of this so that little by little it becomes a habit, and we completely lose the irrational fear of failing in our aspirations. Evaluate the resources you have and work on them.

This is one of the easiest tips on how to overcome the fear of failure, as it is based on easily determined actions, such as setting a timetable, dividing general objectives into more specific ones, etc. If, on the contrary, we set unattainable goals, we will end up getting frustrated and assuming the idea that nothing works out for us, which in the long run paralyzes and leads to passivity and defeatism. A balance must be sought between the present state and that which can be achieved with the means available now.

6. Try to be the best version of yourself

This point refers to gradually exceeding what has been achieved . When we start an activity it is normal that we are not so good at first, but eventually we will improve as time goes by and we become more consistent. So, take each advance as a personal triumph.

Always try to get over yourself without obsessing about it. Remember that all excesses are negative, and too much self-demanding could lead to high levels of frustration that are counterproductive to our cause.

7. Don’t run away from the possibility of failure

As you begin to think of failure as just another possibility, without necessarily being something catastrophic, the fear of it will begin to dissipate.

The less you try to avoid failure and the more you focus on the process of doing what you set out to do and enjoying it, the better off you will be in terms of performance, and your fear will disappear, being replaced by a more adaptive way of looking at failure.

Bibliographic references:

  • Carleton, R.N. (2016). “Fear of the unknown: One fear to rule them all?” Journal of Anxiety Disorders. 41 (June2016): 5 – 21.
  • Martin, Nick; Otowa, Takeshi; Lee, Minyoung; Hartman, Catharina; Oldehinkel, Albertine; Preisig, Martin; Jörgen Grabe, Hans; Middeldorp, Christel; Penninx, Brenda (2017) “Meta-Analysis of Genome-Wide Association Studies of Anxiety Disorders”. European Neuropsychopharmacology. 27 (10): 1391 – 1399.
  • Olsson, A.; Phelps, E.A. (2007). “Social learning of fear”. Nature Neuroscience. 10 (9): 1095 – 102.