What is fear of failure?

Fear of failure is a lot like the fear of success. You’re worried about not being able to meet expectations. Your own and everyone else’s. If you don’t try, then you can’t fail (or succeed). Fear of failure and perfectionism are closely related. When we have unrealistic expectations, we often avoid trying new things because we feel like we need to be perfect from the start. It's easy for people with a fear of failure to become anxious, stressed and even depressed if they feel that they're not good enough in their own minds or the minds of others.

When you know what causes your fear of failure, it becomes easier to challenge it and overcome it so that you can move forward in life with confidence and optimism rather than staying stuck in a self-defeating mindset

What causes fear of failure?

The causes of your fear of failure can vary. Some are universal, such as a sense of inferiority. Others are very specific to you, such as the fear that you won't live up to your own expectations.

  • An inferiority complex makes you feel like you're not good enough to achieve your goals. You may feel that no matter what you do or how hard you try, other people's expectations are too high for you to ever meet them. It's common for people with an inferiority complex to assume that every criticism they receive is a judgment on their worth as a person—not just on something they've done wrong.
  • A conflict between the desire to achieve and the fear of failure can arise when you have many goals and don't know which one is best for you or where to start. Even if it seems like everyone else knows exactly what they want and how they're going to get it, remember that most people struggle with identifying their priorities at some point in their lives, so don't panic if this is something that bothers you! There's no need for concern about whether or not others believe that there's value in pursuing these goals; instead focus on learning more about yourself (or seeking professional help).

Symptoms of fear of failure

The most obvious symptom of fear of failure is anxiety. This can range from mild apprehension to debilitating panic attacks. It's a feeling that something terrible is going to happen, and it's out of your control.

Fear of failure may be triggered by a specific event or experience, such as being ridiculed at school, not succeeding at a job interview, or losing a game. Or it could be more general—a fear that you are not good enough, or that you won't succeed in anything in life. These experiences can cause feelings of failure and low self-worth that can lead to fear of future failures.

Fear of failure and perfectionism

Fear of failure and perfectionism are closely linked. Fear of failure happens when we put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect. Perfectionism is a tendency toward setting excessively high achievement standards that can lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety, depression, self-doubt, procrastination and avoidance behavior – all of which are associated with stress.

Perfectionism is an unhealthy mindset that needs to change. In order to overcome fear of failure, we need to learn how to accept imperfections in ourselves (and others). While it’s good to stay motivated by setting a goal and achieving it, keep in mind that perfection isn’t a realistic end point because there is always room for improvement!

Focus on what you did right instead of what you did wrong. When we focus on our failures or mistakes, it can lead us down the path towards self-loathing and shame – neither of which are productive emotions! Instead try thinking about all the things you did well today or this week before bedtime at night so your mind goes into dreaming mode with positive thoughts instead...

Are you a perfectionist?

Are you a perfectionist?

If you're like most people who have the perfectionist personality, you've probably thought of this word as a positive one. After all, what could be bad about striving to be perfect? But there's a difference between aspiring to be excellent and having perfectionism—an all-or-nothing approach to working that often leads to procrastination and anxiety.

Perfectionism shows up in many ways. For example:

  • You only start your day if you can make your bed really nicely.
  • You've never submitted an article for publication because it could always be better. If it ever is perfect, then maybe someday...
  • Your schedule is jam-packed with tasks that can't wait another minute (yet somehow these tasks keep getting pushed aside).

Tips to overcome fear of failure

  • Practice, practice, practice
  • Be your own cheerleader (don't forget to reward yourself for achieving small milestones)
  • Treat yourself
  • Ask for help! It's not a sign of weakness! If you're feeling stressed, take some time to relax and unwind
  • When all else fails...

Do not aspire to be perfect. Just do the best you can.

You are not a robot. You are not a machine destined to get it right every time. You are human. People make mistakes and that is okay.

So instead of aiming for perfection, aim for progress. If you don’t push yourself out of your comfort zone, you won’t grow and learn from your mistakes or successes either way. While you shouldn’t go too far outside your comfort zone at once, do challenge yourself in small steps that will expand your abilities, knowledge, confidence and self-esteem.

Sometimes we have the tendency to be hard on ourselves after we have failed or made a mistake. We beat ourselves up over it, which can lead us to feel worse about ourselves and eventually cause us to stop trying at all because we feel like there is no point in trying if we just keep failing anyway. But this is wrong thinking! It’s important to forgive yourself when you mess up — everyone does it. Give yourself some grace and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it because being able to admit that will only make you stronger than before

May 08, 2022 — Angelique Sarris