Fear of Failure: How to turn it into Success?

Anyone who sets a goal and sets off can fail. Success and failure go hand in hand, belong together like day and night. But many people fear failure. Why?

The cause of this fear is rooted in our pursuit of belonging. As children, we are dependent on adults for many years. To make us feel that we belong, we do everything that adults expect of us. Even before our brain is sufficiently developed that we can understand and reflect on motivations for action, we have internalized the values ​​and norms that apply in the family and in society.

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In short, we learn one thing above all the practice of praise and blame or punishment goes hand in hand with expectations. We learn very early on that we will be praised and rewarded if we meet the expectations placed on us – and that we will take rebukes or punishments if we fail. The school system is based on this principle.

Anyone who behaves in the classroom as the teacher wishes, whoever writes the answers that are expected in the exams, will be rewarded with good grades and receive recognition. Those who receive recognition feel they belong.

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That is the positive direction. On the other hand, we learn very early that, in addition to recognition, we are also deprived of attention and, in the worst case, even love, if we don’t do what is expected of us. This type of punishment is devastating for a child because it triggers a fear that is anchored in the brain structures: the fear of reprimand, punishment, or withdrawal of love if it fails. To avoid the punishment, we try to avoid the trigger – and develop a new fear.

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As children, we cannot prevent these imprints. But when we recognize them as adults, we can develop a different attitude towards failure. Then we can make ourselves aware that it was not necessarily our goal that was wrong, but the way to get there. That we may not have developed the necessary skills or have not yet got the necessary support that we need to achieve our goal. And that we cannot lose love by making mistakes, overestimating, or calculating incorrectly. Failure is then annoying, but also an opportunity to grow and learn.

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If something goes wrong, then you (ideally) learn your lesson. This means that you are prepared if a similar challenge arises at some point. Experience not only makes you wise but also makes you happy. Ultimately, failure gives you an opportunity to grow as a person, to find out what you really want (and don’t), and it saves you from the nagging question “What if?” You tried it, it didn’t work.

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The bigger the undertaking we are involved in and the more people are involved, the more carefully we have to analyze potential risks in advance. In this way, we can prevent serious failure in most cases by pulling the emergency brake or correcting direction in good time. Fear of failure is definitely not productive.

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This Opinion has been submitted by Samina Akhlaq. She can be reached at @SmPTI31 on Twitter.

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