5 Steps to Overcoming the Fear of Failure & Disappointment
When you think about your life, what do you envision? Is it money, success, fame, happiness? Everything that we want in life is attainable. However, often times the fear of failure and disappointment stand between us and the life we desire.
If you’re ready to act, grab the bull by the horns, challenge yourself, and push past the crippling fear that holds you back from the life you’ve always wanted, implementing these 5 steps can help you achieve just that. Are you ready? Write them down!
1. Stay Cool & Calm
It’s easy to catastrophize, think of the worst possible outcomes, and beat yourself up over failure if you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, angry or upset. These emotions, as valid as they may be in the moment, don’t help you to get over your fear of failure.
In fact, that fight-or-flight response you may be having can actually make your brain feel like you’re in actual physical danger. Engaging in your fear this way can actually strengthen your brain’s fear wiring and “prove” to your brain that there’s actually something physically dangerous or truly fearful about failure and disappointment.
When things aren’t going as you expect, or if you’re disappointed in an outcome, push pause on whatever thoughts are racing through your mind. Find a way to get grounded and return to a place of relative calm. For some, that may mean leaving a specific scenario or situation. For others, it might mean meditation or deep breathing.
Whatever it is for you, know in advance what helps you to de-stress and let go of frustration, and have that ready in your emotional toolbox so you can get proactive when anger, stress and frustration threaten your ability to stay calm and collected.
2. Accept that Failure is Just a Part of Life
You WILL be disappointed. Not maybe. This is a certainty in your life journey.
Accepting how normal and how inevitable failure is in your journey takes away a lot of the stigma, guilt, or shame that causes you to fear failure.
You may find it encouraging to read about all the times famous people or successful people failed before hitting it big. Or, you can simply dwell on past failures and how today they have little to no bearing on your life.
When you see failure as a step in your path, and not something to be avoided, you normalize the situation and view it less as an anomaly that could have been skipped over if only you were “smarter” or “harder working” or “richer.”
3. Take Ownership of the Failure
Accepting that failure is inevitable is different from giving up and saying, “oh well, I won’t try as hard next time.”
It's important to take ownership of your failure. This allows you to have a healthy perspective on the situation, stop making excuses and actually look for the lessons that can be learned if we simply listen to our failures and treat them as growing opportunities.
In the case of the fear of failure, this includes owning the fear itself.
“It is important to accept that failure makes you feel both fear and shame, and to find trusted others with whom you can discuss these feelings,” says Wench. “Bringing these feelings to the surface can help prevent you from expressing them through unconscious efforts to sabotage yourself and getting reassurance and empathy from trusted others can bolster your feelings of self-worth while minimizing the threat of disappointing them.”
At the same time, don’t swing the opposite way and take it too personally.
4. Create Some Separation Between You & Your Failures
While it’s important to own your failures and own your fear, you also must be careful not to falsely equate your failures and disappointments with your own self-worth and inner power.
When we equate our failures with our own value, we create an unhealthy amount of pressure on ourselves and more fear.
“Don't make it personal,” suggests Susan Tardanico, a leadership and communications consultant and coach. “Separate the failure from your identity. Just because you haven’t found a successful way of doing something (yet) doesn’t mean you are a failure. These are separate thoughts, yet many of us blur the lines between them.”
“Personalizing failure can wreak havoc on our self-esteem and confidence,” warns Tardanico.
5. Ask What You CAN Do
Fear often leaves us feeling powerless. When we feel powerless and helpless, we feel forced into a place of seeking safety and the status quo. This is exactly how fear cripples our ability to move forward!
By looking for one or two actions that you CAN do, you shift the conversation. You put the decision-making back in your court. You strip fear of its ability to make you feel helpless.
“Focus on aspects in your control,” suggests Wench. “Identify aspects of the task or preparation that are in your control and focus on those. Brainstorm ways to reframe aspects of the task that seem out of your control such that you regain control of them.”
By looking for just one thing you have control over that you can change, you start to turn the sense of failure into a sense of opportunity, learning and growth.
There are some things that we can only learn from failure. The first is that failure is acceptable. In fact, it's inevitable and it's a natural part of life. But failure also teaches us additional things that success can’t, such as self-resiliency, creativity, perseverance, and courage. Failure builds our character while disappointment teaches us to be honest and authentic with ourselves. The two go hand in hand in making us better people. When we embrace that opportunity, we change how we approach everything in our lives.
The content in this blog article was just one part of our exclusive iAchieveToday courses entitled Self-Resiliency: Overcoming Failure & Disappointment. To take the full course and learn more about disappointment and how you rise above and overcome it, go to iAchieveToday where you can sign up for your membership. This will give you access to 300+ courses, 8 group coaching calls with experts every week, and other tools to help you get immersed in your personal development journey and create a mindset of positivity and light every day.
To learn more, click here to visit iAchieveToday