“Done is better than perfect,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has famously cautioned.
Fear can be paralysing, no doubt. Fear of failure can overcome our desire to accomplish something so overwhelmingly that we quit before we’ve even started.
There are a number of reasons we get bogged so down in the myths and preconceptions around fear, and negative self-talk, and worry, that we lose sight of what we’re capable of. Young girls and women are unfortunately particularly susceptible to bearing the unnecessary load of fear and self-doubt, damage it can take a lifetime fighting to undo.
But it’s possible! There are a handful of important opponents of fear we need to understand before being able to affect any real positive change in our lives. Understand and engage with them, and you will be on your way to achieving your dreams.
Acceptance – you’re only human
The only way you can truly learn and grow as a human is by continuing your journey on what I call the ‘test and failure loop’. You won’t remember now but long ago, you learned to walk. You tried and failed – by falling – over and over again. Instinctively refining your learnings and technique, you tested yourself again and again, until you made it. You walked.
It should come as no surprise, then, to hear that learning in all other areas of your life continues along the same loop; and the sooner you accept this, the better! Failure becomes palatable. Expected, even.
I accepted long ago that failure is a critical part of my learning and growing. When I fail, I don’t berate myself the way I used to. I just accept that this is how humans learn, and in doing so I allay any fears I may have. Failure is OK. It’s necessary.
Reflection opens the door to learning
We’ve all heard it – from our parents, teachers, mentors, and yes, from our inner voices too – learn from your mistakes. Spending time reflecting on failures really helps lift the lid on what you’ve learned as a result.
No one is perfect, so to expect perfection in all your everyday interactions and decision-making puts your emotional health at risk. Every failure has a learning, and it’s essential to the process that you accept that you are imperfect and have things to learn.
While you may think, speak, and act with integrity, you cannot control other people’s behaviour, so it’s also important to relinquish control – a.k.a fear of failure – in some situations to the outcome, whatever it may be. Adopt the mindset that instead of failure, there is only feedback and learning, and you will be more open to the lessons being afforded to you.
Self-soothing & forgiveness as second nature
Self-soothing gets a bad rap. While some may brand it as a self-indulgent, New Age pursuit, the ability to soothe and forgive yourself during challenging times or when facing obstacles, is vital.
Take steps towards a more positive, forgiving internal dialogue, reaffirming to yourself that where – and who – you are today is good enough, and that despite your failures you are doing the best you can with the resources you have available to you.
I will often remind myself “I appreciate myself and my intentions, I appreciate I am learning, and I appreciate that I am always willing to give things a go”. Positive affirmations like this will help you forgive yourself for whatever you feel you’ve failed at, and give yourself permission to ‘re-set’ and start again.
Waste no time shifting gears
The key to really positive change, is to implement the learnings you derive from your failures as quickly as you can, into your daily life. Every mentor I have ever worked with has reminded me that the universe will continue to present me with the same problem (possible in different disguises!) until I have mastered it.
You will never win the ‘Like me!’ game
If you listened to everyone’s opinions about how to manage your life, you’d be living their life, not yours. You will never satisfy everyone, and unfortunately, because humans have a propensity to judge, you are playing a losing game by living to please others.
Other people’s opinions of you are simply a reflection of their view of the world. Someone’s negative judgement of you is essentially just the belief that “Because you are not exactly the same as me, you are ‘less than’ me.”
It is as stupid as it sounds.
I do care when people give me valuable and critical feedback. But judgement washes over me. If I reacted to every negative thing anyone said to our about me, I wouldn’t be Stella. I would be a less than version of myself, living out other people’s dreams and fears.
So don’t let people’s judgment of you stop you for moving forward.
However, my greatest personal evolution – one which has enabled me to step into my power and freed me to overcome fear and self-doubt – has been accepting other people; their opinions, their views, and their attitudes, even (especially!) when they differ from mine.
This means ‘practising what I preach’ at all times, overcoming my programming and prejudices not just for my own benefit, but for the benefit of everyone and the world around me.
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- Fail, Forgive, Learn, Repeat – Overcoming Fear of Failure - February 1, 2019