Failure is a bad word. We avoid it like the plague. Even the thought of it makes us cringe. This may surprise you, but all of this is the wrong reaction.
Falling short of an objective is not a failure. It’s a critical and necessary aspect of being success. Striving for achievement takes guts. Realizing that failing is just part of the process takes courage.
Some of the biggest discoveries in humanity were made possible by discovering what doesn’t work. The scientific method helps figure out what does work through the process of elimination (a series of wins and failures). We know this and, yet, it’s still there looming. Why? Due to our inherent fear of failure. Looking closer at what fear is what sets us free from its grasp.
Fear of failure can be crippling. Fear triggers your fight, flight or freeze response. While we are in this space our thinking is compromised. We move into a place of reaction being driven by our lizard brain or limbic system. This was useful when we were tribal people going to the waterhole and a mountain lion suddenly appears. Survival instincts kick into gear allowing us to protect ourselves.
When was the last time you were in this sort of situation? An experience that called for you to warrant fear at this level?
Yet, you still feel fear regularly. That fight, flight or freeze instinct is in full effect, only now it rears its head because you missed a flight or can’t find your phone. Heck, we can just picture a confrontation with a boss or ex and our blood pressure sky rockets.
What separates us from other creatures is our ability to get out of our lizard brain and into our thinking brain (prefrontal cortex). This is where we move fear out of our way allowing us to continue forward to achieve what we want. To get us out of our “reaction” head, per say, we can ground ourselves by forcing our focus to push us into our the part of the brain that has the highest cognitive function.
3 Ways to Put the Brakes on Fear of Failure:
- Take a big breath. If you are under real life threatening situation you can’t control your breathing very easily. You tell the body you are safe by drawing a deep, slow breath.
- Count it up. Start doing some addition in your head or count backwards. By doing this you engage your more evolved brain.
- List out gratitude. Interrupt anxiety by listing out all of the things, big and small, you are grateful for. Not only does this help put your head on straight, it also gives perspective on the issue facing you.
Not only is the way we think about failure wrong, our fear of it is downright debilitating. Another needless distraction on the road of life. That is unless you decide to recognize failure for what it is. Nothing bad. Just part of evolving.
Get your mind off the fear of failure with these:
- Overpowering the Lizard Brain, Seth Godin YouTube
- How Non-Scientists Use the Scientific Method, University of Texas
- Stress is Good for You, Shiloh Kelly
- How fear destroys success, lifehack.org
Photo Credit: Image altered.