I experienced a major fear of failure when someone asked me to pronounce this word – Atychiphobia! I was scared of mispronouncing the word plus I didn’t know what it meant! People around me were staring at me and were waiting for me to pronounce it. I started sweating and had all sorts of negative thoughts in my mind! What if people make fun of me? What if they start doubting my capability?
You may think that it is just a word, and why would someone make fun of you for mispronouncing it or even doubt your capability? Well, that’s what happens when you suffer from a major fear of failure! BTW, ‘Atychiphobia’ is another word for ‘fear of failure’!
Why do we have a fear of failure?
Many of us suffer from Atychiphobia or fear of failure and it has its roots in our childhood. Based on the conflicting messages we get from people around us we start making decisions about ourselves and about our ability. Either you are over protected or you are questioned for every decision or statement you make. As these become patterns, we start adapting the messages given to us. For instance you may have heard people saying this “Are you sure you want to get into this field? I don’t know if you would be able to sustain?” or “No matter how hard he tries, he never gets the marks he deserves”. Now if your parents or guardians keep saying this in your presence, you will either rebel against it or you may adapt those messages and define your life script of being a loser.
How does one identify having a fear of failure?
If you have four or more of the following symptoms then you have a fear of failure!
1. Unstructured environment or new challenges make you uncomfortable.
2. Your fear freezes your ability to execute against any projects and/or tasks.
3. You are unable to connect to your fear, and you often disassociate yourself from it.
4. You often find yourself procrastinating the tasks – you feel that running away from it would keep you safe!
5. Lack of clarity or direction gives you jitters, and you avoid asking questions.
6. You come across as defensive and are not open to feedback as you see it as criticism of your work.
7. You often feel demotivated when things do not go as per plans.
8. You often worry about what people are thinking about you!
9. You are unable to focus on the task at hand thus affecting your overall performance.
10. You judge your own capabilities based on one or two failures.
11. You are low on self-awareness.
12. You take mistakes personally and keep dwelling on the past.
13. Due to the fear of judgement, you do not share your feelings and thoughts with people around you.
14. You often have sleepless nights and may even experience panic attacks.
What are some of the side-effects of having a fear of failure?
Like any other mental health issue, fear of failure too has many side-effects such as the following.
Insomnia or Sleep apnea – you over analyze things and keep thinking about the outcome. This habit of self-nagging starts affecting your sleep cycle, and you may often find yourself either staring at your ceiling or waking up late in the night gasping for breath. If not managed well, then it may lead to severe anxiety along with sleep apnea
Breathing problems – as mentioned above, due to sleep apnea you may not be able to sleep peacefully and may feel out of breath at times.
Poor Execution – because you experience a fear of failure you freeze and then you either deprioritize the project or you just forget about it. You lose overall focus at work and keep groping in the dark! Many of us even avoid asking questions or initiating an action on a challenging project. In this case it could also be due to a high fear of being judged by your peers and/or supervisors. It has a major effect on our performance and if not improved we may even end up losing our jobs. This, in turn, would lead to depression!
Low on confidence – fear of failure eats us slowly and has a severe impact on our confidence. Confidence is the most important element for success and because of the fear of failure we are unable to move ahead. We continue being in the victim zone and start blaming others for placing us in such a situation.
Chest pain – some may even sweat profusely depending upon the severity of the fear and may even experience a pain in the chest (this may be due to anxiety.)
Digestive problems – due to fear of failure, you may also experience Heartburn, Stomach problems, Peptic ulcers, etc. Fear is consuming you and thus it starts affecting your digestive system.
How does one overcome Atychiphobia (fear of failure)?
Follow these four simple tricks to overcome your fear of failure:
1) Connect with your fears and write down what it is doing to you? Writing it down will ensure that you get the garbage out of your head
2) Talk to a Mental Health expert like a Counselor or a Life Coach
3) Understand causes of your fear: identify if there is a pattern to it. Does it remind you of any painful situation, event or person from the past? If yes, then document it without analyzing. Awareness will help you become aware of your fears.
4) Push yourself: go outside your comfort zone. You need to make a decision – either be kicked out for your poor performance or connect with your fears and rise. Once you decide to move out of the comfort zone, you will be amazed to see the results you get. Yes, you will face challenges and you will also make mistakes but you would be fine with it and will only focus on your primary goal!
Fear of failure is a common issue that most of us face, but the good news is that it is solvable!
I conduct FREE sessions to help people “heal” their fear of failure (This offer is valid until Mar 2019 only. Starting April 2019 all my sessions will be on chargeable basis)
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