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Fear of Failure

We all fail at something, in something at some point in our lives. We get told that it's how we grow and learn but we might also get told that failure is bad, unacceptable even and somehow it reflects badly on us.

It's personal.

Perhaps what we don't get told is how to deal with failure or to put it another way, how to deal with the pain of failure.

Because let's face it, failing hurts. It can affect our self esteem and confidence, it can make us feel anxious and distressed. And many of us have a fear of failure.

Maybe that's because we live in a society where competition and success are highly valued, where being the best is a must to achieve all of our dreams and where being ruthless can be seen as strength.

When we fail, we feel like we're not good enough.

We feel unworthy.

We might even experience feelings of shame.

We might try to numb that pain with alcohol or food or risk taking behaviour. Perhaps because failure feels so personal, the pain is difficult to tolerate.

But failing at something doesn't mean we're rubbish human beings. It simply means we're human. Nobody gets it right all the time.

We all make mistakes and we all fail.

So how do you deal with the pain of failure?

Take a deep breath and allow yourself to feel whatever it is that you're feeling. If you failed at something that is important to you, you might feel upset, disappointed, angry even. That is okay. Those feelings are valid.

If you experience feelings of shame, that is okay too, however remind yourself that everyone fails at some point in their lives. It doesn't mean you're not a worthy human being. It simply means you're human. If you feel able, talk to someone you trust about your shame. Shame tends to lose its power the moment you talk about it.

Once you've allowed yourself to sit with your feelings, try to accept them. I know this is easier said than done. Try to be compassionate with yourself. We have a tendency to become very self critical when we fail and we might tell ourselves that we're useless or stupid. The thing is though, you're already in pain, so please don't add to it by beating yourself up. Show yourself compassion and kindness. I know this too isn't easy so if you are struggling to be compassionate with yourself, try to think about what you would say to a friend or family member if they were in the same situation. Would you be critical with them?

Would you tell them they're useless?

Or would you be supportive?



You deserve the same support, kindness and compassion.

Take care of yourself. Do something nice for yourself. Something that you find comforting or soothing or relaxing.

Once the intensity of the pain and your feelings has lessened, you might want to think about what you can learn from failing.

Can you try again?

What do you need to do differently?

Do you want to try again?

How important is it really?

What have you learned about yourself?

Whatever you decide, make sure that it is what is right for you.

And always remember that there is no shame in asking for help. If you feel like you need to talk to someone about what is going on for you, you might want to talk to a trusted friend or family member or you might want to access therapy. And that too is okay.

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