Defeat the Fear of Failure with These 10 Steps

Being afraid is normal. Staying afraid will limit your life!

How do you face the fear of failure? Do you cower or conquer?

The only way that you can overcome the fear of failure is to lean into it.

An important part of strengthening you resilience is to be able to come to terms with things that you fear. 

 In this article, I am going to share 10 tips and some ancient wisdom literature that you can use to face the fear of failure.

When was the last time you stepped in it? You know, a time when you did a face plant in the plate of failure?

I hate to fail! And yet, life is filled with failure. 

Did you know that fear of failure does not present itself as a choice? It just shows up like some stray dog on your front porch. It is frequently unexpected and always unwanted. It is like finding a scorpion in your shoe, something you have to be careful about in the southwest deserts. That is being afraid.

Staying afraid is a vast difference from being afraid. Staying afraid is a choice, usually a bad one.

I don’t know anyone who wants to fail because failing can be a powerful mental, emotional and spiritual threat to our motivation as humans. And if we are not careful, the fear of failure can undermine our chances of success in various ways!

It is  that fear offailing that dredges up feeling such as shame, disappointment, dismay, anger, anguish, self-loathing, frustration, and confusion if not dealt with directly could cause a train wreck.

With that in mind, here are 7 Indicators that fear of failure might be holding you back.

  1. The fear of failing will slow you down when it comes to pursuing your dreams.
  2. Failing has a friend called shame that always seems to show up when we experience failure.
  3. Failing causes you to feel distressed about what others think of you.
  4. Failing may cause you to question how smart and capable you are.
  5. Failing can arrest your creativity.
  6. You have physical issues at the last minute, such as headaches, GI issues, or another physical symptom that sabotages you.
  7. You might tend to be a procrastinator or a closet perfectionist.

So, how should you and I deal with failure and setbacks? I love this quote from Bob Goff:

“Failure is just part of the process, and it’s not just okay; it’s better than okay. God doesn’t want failure to shut us down. God didn’t make it a three-strikes-and-you’re-out sort of thing. It’s more about how God helps us dust ourselves off so we can swing for the fences again. And all of this without keeping a meticulous record of our screw-ups.”

― Bob Goff, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World

Here are some practical things you can do to face your failures and move forward with hope, gratitude, and confidence.

  1. Embrace your humanity by recognizing and accepting your emotions. The simple truth is that sometimes life sucks, and sometimes we fail. 
  2. Please don’t take or make it personal. The following quote is a line from Rudyard Kipling’s poem If, “If you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same…”
  3. Don’t be overly concerned about what others think. Honestly, they don’t care.
  4. Maintain an internal focus of control. Our reactions to stress, tough times, change, and other adverse events depend on our inner resources. 
  5. And while we do not have any control over these external circumstances, we are responsible for our response to them.
  6. Stay flexible. If you refuse to be flexible, you can become broken.
  7. Maintain a support system, and we all need a system or systems that provide:
    1. Emotional Support – empathy, love, and trust
    1. Instrumental – tangible aid and service
    1. Informational – advice, suggestions, and info
    1. Appraisal – info that is useful for self-evaluation
  8. Laugh deeply and often. Humor, laughter, and joy have a powerful effect on health and well-being. It alleviates tension and stress, boosts the mood, raises creativity, and provides a prodigious, drug-free energy boost.
  9. Demonstrate “self-efficacy.” Self-efficacy is a person’s belief in their ability to succeed in a particular situation. Psychologist Albert Bandura described these beliefs as determinants of how people think, behave, and feel.
  10.  Learn to develop your spiritual muscles. Let your faith grow.

Over the years, I have found comfort, wisdom, insight, and strength in the ancient scriptures. 

The Bible has scores of stories, principles, and insights that can help you and me.

So, how do we “fail forward,” here are some scriptures to reflect on.

James 1:5 – If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for the asking. NLT

2 Timothy 1:7 – For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear,  but [He has given us a spirit of confidence] of power and love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control]. Amplified Bible

Philippians 4:6-9 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned[a] and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.  ESV

Proverbs 3:5-6 – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and not lean on your understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. ESV

One of the ways that I do this is to take portions of Scripture and turn this into personalized declarations. Here are a couple of examples.

Declaration # 1 – When I am afraid I will trust in you, In God whose word I praise; in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?
(Psalms 56:3-4)

Declaration # 2 – I will not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, I will present my requests to You, God. And Your peace, which transcends all understanding, will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Declaration # 3 – Thank You Lord that as I seek You, You will answer me and deliver me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4)

Declaration # 4 – I will not fear, for You are with me; I will not be dismayed, for You are my God.  You will strengthen me and help me, You will uphold me with Your righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10)

Application:

  1. Do a quick “After Action Review.” 
    1.  What did I do right?
    1.  What did I do wrong?
    1.  What can I do better?
  2. Pick one or two of the declarations that best fits your situation. When you feel the fear of failure thought worm moving through your brain, begin replacing that thought with a couple of these declarations. 

Hey, let me know if you found this helpful in the comments.

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