Throughout university, my best friend battled with a fear of failure and repeatedly second-guessed herself. Despite her steady grades and positive feedback, she often considered dropping out and was convinced that she would fail – even when results day finally arrived.
But that didn't happen. Instead, she achieved a grade that exceeded all her expectations and landed a full-time job soon after. If she had succumbed to her fears and dropped out, she likely wouldn't be where she is today.
We all trip up and make mistakes from time to time, and it isn't irrational to worry about failing. But an overwhelming fear of failure (also called "atychiphobia") can prevent us from taking steps to achieve our goals. We then miss out on opportunities and new experiences.
Fear of failure stems from low self-esteem and can be caused by a number of things, including critical or unsupportive parents, witnessing someone else fail, or even experiencing a traumatic event at some point in your life. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce and overcome this paralyzing anxiety.
Left unchecked, fear of failure can result in self-sabotaging behaviors like "missing" a deadline, or "forgetting" a presentation. This then creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, and means failure is more likely.
Try the tips in the latest episode of Mind Tools Minutes video series to overcome your fear of failure. And be sure to keep an eye out for future episodes every Wednesday. In the meantime, head over to our YouTube channel to see the last four episodes in the Stress and Well-Being series.
Have you ever been so scared of failing that you decide not to try at all? Or were you able to overcome your fears? Share your experiences and advice, below.
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"Mental health issues are often based on the tension between what one has achieved and what one has the potential to become." - Clive Lewis
"Running into that thing makes our anxiety spike – and we start telling stories in our head about what an inadequate person we are."