Becoming Fearless! (No. 4: Fear of Failure)

Continued from Becoming Fearless! (No. 1)

“I’m sharing a few, more for me than for you … If you value this mess, then I’ve been a success!” – me

#4 Fear of Failure

This fear is one of my favorites. It’s the one that has seemed to make such a huge difference with such a small change. When you think about it, it doesn’t seem to make sense at all. Nobody is perfect. Failure is inevitable. Unless you just sit around in a dark corner and never, ever try anything, eventually you are going to try something that doesn’t work out right. But I guess at least the failure is minimized then, right?

I’ve tried that before. After trying and losing a few times, I just sat at home and gave up. After being married twice and being divorced twice, I just didn’t want to do it again. Until I understood just how I messed up and made a plan so that it wouldn’t happen again, I just didn’t want to meet anyone or really socialize at all. I’m sure there are other smaller failures that I could use as examples, but this one is the one that sticks out the most.

What did I do wrong anyway? Well, after way too much careful consideration, I think I can boil it down to this: for the first one, I was 17 years old and watching my mom die of cancer for the next three years. It had a tremendous effect on me that I didn’t realize at the time and I really did all manner of stupid, thoughtless things. For the second one, I really think I tried my best. I gave it everything I had. I was just the only one giving it that much.

So these things are out of my control, but I still had a fear of failure. I still had a fear of trying again and being hurt again. This is stupid. Really, it is. It’s like standing outside a toy factory and hoping a red one comes out, but when they send out a blue one, I collapse and emit dire shrieks of failure because it wasn’t red! Maybe I just don’t have everything figured out. Maybe I cant try my best and make everything work right. Maybe life has the painful parts to put the beautiful ones in relief. Life isn’t airbrushed!

Over the last few years, I’ve been retraining my brain. I’ve been looking for good quotes and sayings. I’ve developed a more friendly relationship with the word failure, based on mutual trust and respect. I will let failure to its job and failure will let me do mine! How wonderful. And really, I now understand that moments where things don’t work out as planned are really the best opportunities to learn something new. This has taken quite some time. I’m not sure where the fear of failure comes from, honestly, since I know children will try almost anything without reservation. It must be something that I picked up along the way.

Or maybe, it is that I was never taught to enjoy failure as an opportunity. Then, when the pain came, I naturally thought something was wrong. Not everything that hurts is bad, though, and sometimes these are life’s little ways of nudging us forward. Maybe failure is life’s way of saying, “try something different” or even “be happy with the red one.” Either way, it’s not the end of something that didn’t work, it is the beginning of something that will work better.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. – Steve Jobs

Upcoming topics:

  • Fear of injury
  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of losing loved one
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of being old and frail
  • Fear of being suckered
  • Fear of being locked up or confined
  • Fear of being jumped or mugged
  • Fear of not winning
  • Fear of looking or feeling like an idiot
  • Fear of being broke
  • Fear of getting lost
  • Fear of being out of control
  • Fear of not having a drink

I’m not sure right now what other things there are to be afraid of, but I’m sure there are plenty more! Please leave a comment if you have any thoughts!



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