Why does failing feel damn sucky to us?
When you feel like a failure it feels bad. We can feel it physically in our bodies, it plays havoc with our motivation and our bitchy brain uses it as an excuse to chastise us for not being perfect AGAIN!
Just the thought of someone pointing out our failure to others makes us want to hide under the duvet like we’re back in our teenage years when the world felt too intense. It’s no wonder we’re afraid to fail.
When you are forced to deal with failure, you feel the need to distance yourself from it because only “bad” people fail and according to public opinion they were doing something underhand so it serves them right.
Getting a good sense of why failure feels bad?
And that’s only part of the reason, while these issues tend to play below our awareness, there are plenty we are aware off, but continue to allow to drive our behaviours anyway.
A few more obvious reasons why failure feels so icky is because of our upbringing, from the minute we’re born, we’re tested. We either pass or fail, that’s reinforced all the way through school. Those who constantly fail were looked down on by their peers unless they were the class clown. Those who passed the tests were praised. No wonder we see failing as bad. That’s all we’ve been taught.
And if you’re anything like me, who excelled in school with good grades spent my late teens priding myself that I never failed anything in my life – the threat of your first big failure is enough to keep you playing small.
So how can we change things to deal with failure in a healthy productive way rather than avoiding it at all costs?
You might think the key is to protect yourself from failure by never being outspoken, trying anything new or stretching your comfort zone and I bet your comfort zone is in need of a good stretch! Mine is…
But I tried that, in my late teens early 20’s I made a vow never to do anything that would mean people would be able to criticise me publicly. As you can imagine my life was boring and my personal growth stagnant. I shied away from trying new things because I was completely freaked out by the thought of failure.
So I’m speaking from experience when I say if you want to live even a half full life, you can’t hide from failure.
Do I still struggle with the fear of failure, damn right I do, fear is an innate response to what we perceive as danger, can I suppress the feeling (tried, not a good idea). I’ve come to realise that fear is pretty reasonable once you recognise it for what it is, thank it for trying to protect you, but understand it’s over reacting and let it know the rest of your brain can take it from here.
If you think I’m joking, I’m not, you can have an intentional conversation with yourself and you don’t have to accept every thought as true just because it fleeting popped into your brain.
Here are a few tips that I use when the fear of failure is stopping my moving forward in any area of my life.
Since it’s much easier to change ourselves from the inside out than it is to change the worlds perception of failure, if you feel the need to watch or read the news be aware of how they perceive people who fail and the messages they are reinforcing.
Remind yourself the people who will likely take enjoyment of seeing you fail are people who are too scared to try, you are automatically living a fuller life than they are.
If you find yourself asking the question, “but what if I fail?” rephrase it as “if i fail at this and pick myself back up it will be as amazing springboard to my personal growth and confidence”
Remind yourself that you have failed and survived many times before, you failed at walking hundreds of times before you got it, that didn’t stop you did it?
Failure is only ever a problem if you can’t find a way to dust yourself off and try again, it’s a important part of life, expect it, in fact welcome it with open arms (well at least the same way you welcome that annoying relative you wish you didn’t have to play nice with).
By using your self talk (the voice in your head that’s can be a right mean bitch) to focus on what you learnt from failing and picking yourself back up, you can feel more confident with the process of failing.
You don’t get to practise failing like you do with many other skills, but like the rest of them, the more you practise failing, the better and easier it will become and you’ll have one less fear to stop you living the life that you want.
Remember, if you’re not failing, then you’re not growing.
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