how to overcome fear of failure
Personal Development

What If There Was No Way You Could Fail?

Many business and life coaches, and sometimes even therapists, will ask you this question if you are ever considering your next steps in life or thinking about attempting something new but are frightened to do so.

It’s an interesting question, since believing you can’t fail throws up a lot of doors that you probably closed yourself, i.e., we have a tendency to be our own worst enemies.

Fear of Past

There is both a wisdom and cynicism that comes with getting older. Past experiences — and we have a lot of them — tend to teach us lessons. They can, however, make us afraid, because it’s human nature to focus on things that went wrong, or that are “wrong” in our lives because of negative bias.

Fear has a greater influence on your life than anything else. Your worries indicate the periods in your life when you either faced and conquered your anxieties, or didn’t. They either indicate a fork in the path or the point at which you missed an exit.

Many of us are unaware of how much our past influences our present and future lives. We think we’re being careful and wise, that we’re relying on hard-won knowledge from the past to avoid making the same mistakes now. We don’t know it, yet holding on to past events causes them to repeat themselves.

Read also: 5 Things You Shouldn’t Be Afraid Of

Negative Bias And Its Effect

You know, the phenomenon that twenty people can tell you something great about yourself, but you will only focus on that one negative comment that someone said about you. We humans have a tendency to give greater weight to things that go wrong in our brains than those that go right—to the point that a single bad experience can hijack our minds in ways that are harmful to our job, relationships, health, and happiness.

Because cognitive biases can have a substantial impact on our decision-making abilities, we should be mindful of the negativity bias. Individuals who suffer from negativity bias tend to overestimate or focus too significantly on the prospective costs or drawbacks of an action.

Read also: Negative Thoughts – Tools For Eliminating Negative Thinking

I was telling my friend Alison recently that I still remember to this day a horrible comment that some jack-ass yelled to me about my appearance around 13 years ago at a hockey game. And I still can’t quite be sure he was even talking about me. But in my mind I’m convinced he was.

Negative bias tended to serve our ancestors well when they went out hunting with cousin Joe, and a giant Saber-Tooth tiger popped out of the bushes and ripped Joe’s face off. The surviving members of the tribe learned what NOT to do to avoid becoming a big kitty Scooby snack.

In modern times we get our food from the grocery store, and although the news may make it feel like the world is going to the crapper, most of us have little to fear…except fear itself. I just made that up. lol

So, what is one to do? Should we not ever focus on events in our life that didn’t go so well in order to take chances and just, “hope for the best?”

I’m no psychologist, but I do plan on putting my own strategies in place so that I can overcome certain fears, while at the same time being smart about it. 

Remember all the times you posted a “W”

Look back on your life and write down all the times you took a big chance or faced a fear, and it was a win. Or at least it turned out okay.

For me, one of the biggest chances I ever took in life was moving when I was 25 from Detroit to Seattle without knowing anyone or even having a job. And I only had around $4,000 to my name. I thought I was rich!

Moving from Detroit was a huge positive shift in my life. A true game-changer.

While that move was great, choosing to leave Seattle and move to LA (the first time) and take a job at a movie trailer company turned out to be a disaster. But really, the WORST that happened was that I was really unhappy for six months and Seattle welcomed me back with open arms, and I learned so freaking much about what I wanted out of work and life.

I remember when I was 25 and traveling to Europe the first time. I was originally going with a small one-person-run tour group, but it turned out they didn’t have enough people signed up for that particular tour, so they cancelled the trip. But as a courtesy, the guy running the tour did all my booking and gave me a day-by-day playbook of the trip.

Still, I was freaking terrified. I remember being on the plane to Paris and trying to talk to this newly married couple sitting next to me. They could care less about me and when I suggested we travel into the city together, they declined.

I got totally lost and confused by the whole subway/train system, then totally lost and confused walking out of the metro station and trying to find my small hotel, while carrying a too-heavy backpack, dealing with almost 90-degree weather, and having a major case of jet lag.

Read also: Why Self-Help Material Doesn’t Change Your Life

Remember, these were the days before GPS, so all I had was a laminated map.

After a nearly 2-hour walk (turns out the hotel was only about a 15-minute walk to the metro) to the hotel, I put my bag on the bed and starting sobbing. “How am I going to handle going from city to city,” I cried.

But I took a nap, gathered myself, and found my way to the lawn near the Eiffel Tower to soak up the afternoon sun.

The rest of the journey was filled with minor mishaps and near-misses (like nearly getting off at the wrong train station, and Italian creeper men), but overall it was an amazing time and truly a growth and culture-building experience.

And there are more wins in my life from the big to the small, like the first 5k I was able to run the whole way. And hey, now I run 5ks as part of a normal exercise run.

By emphasizing your victories, you’ll see that you’re making more positive progress than you think. One thing to keep in mind is that unfavorable events frequently seem to strike us out of nowhere. They appear to be excessive. Positive events tend to be slow-burning since we aren’t focused on the small bricks that make up the wall.

Self Awareness

You can start to detect any thoughts that are racing through your head – both beneficial and unhelpful – by checking in with yourself throughout the day. You can also examine your own habits to gain a better knowledge of what is and isn’t benefiting you.

You may also figure out how positive and negative thought patterns effect your life by identifying positive and negative thought patterns. After you’ve attained a certain level of self-awareness, you’ll be able to spot negative bias in actual action. And once you’ve mastered this, it’ll be second nature to replace negative thoughts with good ones.

Raise your negative alert as soon negative thoughts comes to your mind. You’ll be able to halt them as soon as they start and replace or challenge them over time. You will be able to establish a gentle and patient attitude toward oneself as a result of this. Learn to rejoice in even the little accomplishments while acknowledging that you will have terrible days.

What were your thoughts before you felt enraged, resentful, or frustrated? Maybe it was a case of negativity bias in action.
And, more importantly, how can you replace those negative thoughts with more positive ones?

…With a Plan

But, taking leaps, chances or facing fears should not be taken without risk management. I mean go skydiving, but double check you packed your chute correctly know what I mean?

  1. I always recommend having your finances in order no matter what challenge, leap, or new venture you want to take. How much is of course up to each individual. And I do think at some point it’s ok to leap even though you still don’t feel like you have enough money. “You may never feel 100%,” (she says, to herself).
  2. Find the right support network. Get rid of or cut back time spent with naysayers.
  3. Seek out people who have done whatever it is you want to do. And read lots of material on the subject. From the library…because, you know, saving money and shit.
  4. Be adaptable to change. So you didn’t get the job you wanted, but maybe something bigger and better is waiting for you!
  5. Know that whatever happens you’ll be OK, and you’ll find a way to adjust and work it out.

It took me a long time to make a lot of solid friends when I first moved to Seattle years ago (read about the Seattle freeze), and even longer to find my first real full-time job, but it still was one of the best moves I ever made in my life. And I’m still here today to talk about it!

What thing(s) would you do if you knew you could not fail?


Sadie is a freelance writer documenting the adventures of downsizing from the family home in the suburbs to a mountain cottage in the woods. She share the downsizing details, scoutings of the mountain locations, and her never-ending search for the perfect T-shaped clothesline.

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