How Do You Handle Fear Of Failure?

saturn vintageI’ve been working with a highly ambitious client, plagued by his profound fear of failure. It’s a situation where telling a person, “Don’t feel like that,” won’t work. We’re not even trying to rid him of the problem at this time.  We’re working on changing how he responds when he (inevitably) finds himself in a panic.

By default, he’s got two responses. He tries to get someone; or a coalition of people, to reassure him that all will be well. Alternately or additionally, he’ll also go to great lengths to avoid the challenge that scares him.

These responses are not helping him to get ahead. Since this is what he wants, we’re working on the trigger point.

How do you handle your fear of failure?

10 thoughts on “How Do You Handle Fear Of Failure?”

  1. More and more I find myself that I jump in the situation. It’s like I want to fail faster and better so that I can get ahead in my life. I like the adrenaline rush when I feel I might fail, It’s like I’m going to jump with a parachute yet no idea what’s going to happen, but I feel that if something’s going to be bad it’s going to be horrendous so I just enjoy the pump of adrenaline and hope for the best, expect for the worse. I’ve got CAP ASC, Saturn in 1st house ( Aqua) opp Mars, Venus, Jupiter, trine Mercury and Sun.
    I used to avoid the trigger or get really rock bottom in case I felt I failed. Now I’m more strategically fierceful ( Saturn- Mars)

    1. Ha! I’m laughing with you elen. I used to jump in, think later when I was half the age I am today. I have Cap Asc, foo. With Saturn-Mars in Leo, plus Pluto in that stellium.

      I have had to come to terms with the limits of adrenaline-based decisions without the informed wisdom for more than six decades of crash and burn. My fears about failure are still part of the ride; I’m move willing to be humbled, too. My ambitiousness with a natal Scorpio Sun in Mercury and such public positions (the 10th and 11th houses) has been a lifetime school of knocking and falling hard only to rise again, but different.

  2. By recognizing that failure is a necessary part of success, you have to be willing to fail in order that master the game. Reframe the deginition of failure in ones mind would be a good place to start and then deal with the underlying feelings of what you believe it would mean about you if you failed.

  3. I’m not sure I have a fear of failure…I have failed enough times in my life to know that I can handle it. I just try to succeed…I can be pretty ambitious and savvy, so I figure if I don’t succeed at something then I am simply not meant to. So to put that in advice form, I’d say the best way to deal with fear of failure is to go ahead and fail.

  4. Agree with some of the other comments …
    – the only person who never failed was the person who never tried
    – the more often you fail at stuff, the easier it gets to handle it
    – failure doesn’t define who you are (and neither does success)
    – you might fail at the end goal but learn lots on the way that helps with a future project

    I’d add that everybody feels fear. The people who overcome it, do it by the only way possible. Having more courage to face up to it than to run away. People, always think that the object of fear needs to be removed but with irrational fears that’s impossible and it requires courage. Most tellingly whenever I’ve confronted a fear, the “bad” thing I was scared of never actually came to pass.

    Elsa – I’d just point out that in your client’s case there is something underlying his fear of failure whether that is fearing of losing face, a job or validating childhood criticism of being a failure or whatever. His real fear isn’t of failure, it’s of something else.

  5. there is a great video on you tube, about stress and fear;in this piece a helicopter chases down a polar bear ;it is trauma for the polar bear.The bear releases his fear, first with great shaking.Shake it off,sound familiar?Then, deep breathing , results are evident.good technique,for me.Give it a try,at least check out video.

  6. “Elsa – I’d just point out that in your client’s case there is something underlying his fear of failure whether that is fearing of losing face, a job or validating childhood criticism of being a failure or whatever. His real fear isn’t of failure, it’s of something else.”

    Yes, he’s aware of that.

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    By giving myself a permission to fail. By allowing myself to fail if I must and still being on my side, not the judge of myself.

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    A different approach:

    No, I should NOT know better.
    I will never ever know everything.
    Not knowing is my natural state.
    Trying to know everything is not even possible.
    I will know what I need to know one way or another.
    Sometimes knowing something leaves no room for knowing something else.

  9. I responded to fear of mediocrity by not trying. I feel I need to be very gentle with myself and various logical self talk hasn’t worked. I am just a person in the world trying. So to nudge myself to move is ideal. It is a hard won insight for a person with a history of procrastination and nothingness
    But who knows if I’ll ever be anything. Really I don’t know if I’ll ever face it.

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