By Qurat ul Ain Shahzad
Failure is a subjective term, and everyone defines it in his or her own way. For a 5 year old boy, failure may be losing a race with an older brother; for a 10 years old student it may be getting a low grade on a Math exam. A 20 year old girl, may see it in failing to get the right job, and for a 30 year old man, it may be choosing the wrong life partner. For a 40 years old house wife it may come down to cooking bad food, and a 50 year old man may experience failure in his inability to fight a disease; or it may be choosing a wrong path in life just as you turn 60,…really, the list is simply inexhaustible.
Like it or not, we all fear failure to some degree. No one likes to be defeated or be marked as a failure in life. There is also an increased tendency—for humans in general—in taking things personally. I remember, whenever my mom used to scold me for not being able to learn something, I used to then experience strong self-criticism, fearful thoughts like “I am an utter failure and I will never be able to learn anything.”
The Greeks called it Atychiphobia, meaning unusual fear of failure. It is this fear that stops us from trying new things and from realizing our true potential. As long as we do not overcome this fear, it is always going to hamper our growth and our ability to move forward along the horizon to achieve bigger and newer accomplishments and experiences.
In more intense cases, fear may demonstrate itself with physical indicators like nervousness, shortness of breath, faintness, skipping a heartbeat or change in face color. In my experience, I have learned that you need to make yourself strong inside-out in order to fight this giant!
If you are motivated to get rid of some of your fear of failure, then you may want to try these few things that I believe can help:
- DARE TO EXPERIMENT
If an idea pops up in your head, do your math. Weigh the pros and cons and consider if it is really worth it to try that thing and then if you consider it worthwhile, then overcome your fear and tell yourself that you are being daring by experimenting it.
- FEED YOUR CREATIVITY
Who doesn’t like to be creative? Boost your self-esteem by being creative and trying new things. Even if your lifestyle does not allow you to try completely new things, do the old things in new ways. Take a different route to work, re-arrange all your furniture, try new cuisines, dance to a foreign song….
- TELL YOURSELF THAT YOU CAN!
Bear in mind one thing, people who tell themselves that they can, are the ones who can. Tell yourself that you are not doomed for failure and that you can really accomplish things beyond your fears. Boost your self-esteem by waking up the hidden potential that your fears have put to slumber.
- THINK WITH MORE CONFIDENCE
Even if you are doing something wrong, do it with the confidence of knowing that in the end you will end up learning the right way, by learning to avoid these mistakes in the future.
- THINK OF BRAVERY AS A PILL
Take a mental bravery pill and direct yourself in the right direction and remind yourself of the good things that you can get once you have dared to try.
- LEARN TO ABSORB CRITICISM
Do not take everything personally. Realize that ultimately the criticism that others pour onto you is just their opinion and you are not what they think of you. If you think you are better off than what people say, often, you really are!
- REPUTATION IS AN ONGOING PROCESS
If you think that you have created a reputation after years of effort and one wrong move may ruin it all then tell yourself that reputation is an ongoing process and if one wrong move tarnishes it a little, you can always mend it later with better moves and do better. We all have to start somewhere!
- TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY
Everything that comes to you is an opportunity. If you let your fear of failure reign over you, you might not get that same opportunity again. So, grab it once it comes your way.
- THE EXPERIENCE GAINED IS WORTH IT
Even if you lose, you gain a valuable experience. If you have a positive attitude towards learning from your mistakes, and attempt not to repeat them in the future, then the experience gained is truly worth the discontent that you may suffer. Do not be afraid to try!
More than any other thing, as a source of positive energy, I have loved the quote of Buddha:
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.”
Qurat ul Ain Shahzad M.A., has dual Master’s degrees in English Literature and Information Technology, and she lives in Lahore, Pakistan. MrsQKhan@Gmail.Com