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Why are we so afraid to fail?

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Failing, that shameful thing we wish didn’t exist. Who wants to be weak or to make a fool of himself in front of others?

‘The others’, if it hadn’t been for them, we wouldn’t even have invented the concept of failing. Because it’s not about what we don’t know how to do, it’s about what others think about us when we don’t know how to do something. It is about our reputation and image and hopes for acceptance. However, do we actually know for sure what people think about us? No, but on a constant basis we assume what people must believe about us, through our own beliefs. Of course there are also cases when others tell us tough things and… because we doubt ourselves we end up believing that this is the truth about who we are.

When we believe what someone else believes about us it’s as if we think we are wrong about ourselves and others are right. 

This is so painful, but true. And, from my experience we end up believing what others tell us, especially during childhood. Because that is the time when we are not so sure about who we are and expect a great deal of approval and acceptance from the others, thus, we stand open to the opinions that come from outside. Only that when we’re open, bad/wrong ideas can go in, also. It happened to me, when a boy told me I was fat when I was in the 7th grade. I had some thoughts about this, but, the moment I heard him say “Look at her, she’s almost like a cow!” (which was not true at all), I instantly looked down and saw my belly and legs fat.  For the next years of my teen age, I kept all sorts of diets and was never convinced I was slim enough.

Is failing abominable? 

We fear and avoid situations in which we assume we could fail because we believe “failing” is awful. It  would mean we are weak and less than others. But the truth is, this isn’t the truth. If we don’t know something or don’t know how to do something it doesn’t mean we are stupid or there’s something wrong with us, it’s just that we don’t have the patience with ourselves to learn how to do it. We end up lamenting, complaining and fearing, like little babies, that it’s gonna come out bad and others will look down on us. What we do not know is that we don’t have to be good at everything and know everything. This is childish…. and boring.

I went through this recently, when I decided to join a Zumba class. I had to face I haven’t danced or shook my body for a year and that I didn’t know the Zumba moves. Yet, there was still a little voice yelling from time to time: “But what if you won’t catch the moves or the rhythm?” And so what, I went there and failed and learned how to dance. And didn’t care about what others would think about me, because I could see… they were all going through the same thing.

So, it’s not only me or you, everybody fears failing. We are all caught in this and those who aren’t don’t take life so serious.

Here are 3 things why we are so used to believe failing is abominable.

1. We believe it’s serious.

2. We fear others see us.

3. We fear others will look down on us and reject us.

4. We believe that if we fail we are not good.

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Fearing to fail can lead to complete avoidance, passivity, alcoholism, self-hatred, depression, suicide or isolation. So, what should we do? From my failure experience and Brene Brown’s tips, we should:

1. accept and love completely who we are

2. forgive ourselves (for+give us)

3. allow ourselves to fail

4. let ourselves be seen no matter what.

Dr. Brene Brown, a researcher who studied shame and vulnerability, says that by allowing ourselves to fail we seed courage into our lives.

The moment we’ll understand nothing is so serious, we’ll stop being afraid to fail. So, let’s put some smiles on our faces. 🙂


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