Your Fear of Failure is a Disguise

Fear of Failure is A Disguise

I have been working as a productivity/life coach and it has been an amazing experience. I love helping others overcome mental barriers and seeing them transform. One way I coach people through mental barriers is to help them uncover or even discover truths about themselves. There is a pretty common truth that most of us carry.  It's one of the most common hurdles that gets in the way between us and our goals. This truth is woven in these statements below. Can you find them?

"I want to, but what if I fail?"

"I don't believe I can be good enough if I give it my all."

"I don't think I will succeed, even if I try my best."

These statements all display many things. But one I want to point out today is each of these persons' fear of failure.  It's important to mention this mindset because it's self-limiting. And it's within your control to change.

The official name is


I'll give you 5 brownie points if you look up the pronunciation.
No one likes to fail, but some people become paralyzed by it.

Their need to avoid failure is greater than their desire to succeed.
In their mind, being a beginner is for other people. They might even feel "too cool" to look like a fool like that.

Fear of Failure is A Disguise

But there is a disguise here.
True, they don't want to fail - but it's not the failure itself they are running from.

It's actually fear of shame.

Guilt is about feeling bad for our actions.
Regret is about feeling bad for our efforts.
Shame is about feeling bad for our selves - who we are at the core.

This really just boils down to our self-worth and self-esteem.

People that have a higher sense of self-worth and self-esteem are much more likely to try new things. And when you try new things... you accomplish new things.

Fear of Failure is A Disguise

What are the signs of fear of failure??
If you have fear of failure getting in your way, you might have these statements running through your mind somewhere deep:

1. What will other people think if I fail?
2. How smart/capable am I really if I fail?
3. If I fail, that must mean I'm not capable of achieving the life I want.

So, what should we do about fear of failure- or actually fear of shame.
There are a lot of answers to this question. Many which are too personal and specific to dive into with a blog post. But here is a good start:

1. Accept it. You're afraid of failure? Join the club. Own it. Name it. Label it. Literally call your best friend right now and tell them "I'm afraid I'm going to screw this up." Your friend will more than likely remind you of your self-worth and even empathize with you. You won't feel as trapped by the fear.

2. Do what YOU can. Not what he/she can. Not what your boss, neighbor, client, or friend can. Focus on what is in YOUR control. Choose what you can do to make your success 10x more likely then run with that. I can tell you right now: if you focus on what others should be doing to make you successful and not what YOU should be doing to make yourself successful- you're going to fail.

3. Fail more. Sound counterintuitive? There are two reasons why I give this advice. First, you'll get used to the sensation of failure and realize your life didn't really end if you did fail. Second, the more you fail, the more likely you are to succeed. (digest that one for a minute) and Third, the greatest lessons you will ever learn don't come from success. They come from failure.

Yeah, failure sucks. It's suppose to. Just like success is supposed to feel amazing. Are you ready for this crazy truth?

The opposite sensations of failure and success become the engine of motivation and determination for our goals to become a reality. 

The sensation of failure and success is a swinging pendulum, creating it's own drive.
And just like if you try to stop the swing of one side of the pendulum- failure- you automatically just stopped the momentum and energy for the other side of the swing- success.

Don't want to feel failure? Then you more than likely don't really want to feel success either.

No, actually. That's not the point either. Maybe the true point is you don't want to feel. Period.  Because true feeling, or being mindful, can be uncomfortable.

What's gone wrong? What makes being alive so uncomfortable? What keeps us wanting to numb or float through our lives and feeling stuck?

Shame happens commonly when we base our self-esteem or self-worth on our emotions.

I'm feeling down? I must be bad. 
Feeling sad? I must not be worthy of happiness. 
Feeling happy? I'm a great person after all! 
Feeling excited? I must be pretty decent. 
Feeling an adrenaline rush? I'm awesome.

So, when we experience failure- we might internalize it.
I failed? I must be a failure.

But truly, nothing could be farther from the truth.

You are not a failure, you experienced failure.
You aren't fat, you have fat.
You aren't a drop out, you dropped out.
You aren't an addict, you are addicted.
You aren't ill, you have an illness.

I try my best not to define myself by failure. And truly, the reverse is true too.

I don't define myself by my success either. 

Both success and failure is what I experience. They don't define who I am or what I'm worth.

Take away all my failure and success, take away that swinging pendulum, and what remains?

I'll tell you:

Fear of Failure is A Disguise

What's left? 

A woman. A living, breathing, creating, loving human. And that's enough.

Failure and success are nothing in comparison to just plain me. Discovering this fact makes failure feel like a learning experience, and success as a pleasant side-effect of that learning experience.

This is just one more mental barrier that vanishes.
Let me know what you think in the comments below.