Recognizing and eliminating fear of failure in modern society. When you think about the word “failure” what thoughts come to your mind? Have you ever experienced failure before? Do you have a fear of failure? Almost everyone I know has experienced some form of failure. Yet, failure is still a much dreaded experience for many people. I can remember as a child how my mother cautioned me about failure. In order to get me to study, she often threatened to give me a good beating if I failed. I did not need any other form of motivation than beating. At that time, the fear of failure was second only to being beaten.
Recognizing Fear of Failure in Our Society
This fear of failure is still very apparent in today’s society. In so far as, many people stay stuck where they are, rather than take a risk. Who are we to blame for this problem, which exists in our society today? What caused many of us so fearful that we will live and die with our dreams, rather than risk failing? Some people may think differently, I think that our ancestors and those who had influence over us in our childhood are mainly to responsible for this crippling fear of failure. While I think our ancestors’ intentions were pure, they inadvertently did us a disservice. They may have intended to protect us from losing what little possessions we have, but in breeding this fear, it has caused many of us to continue to live below our potential. They may have wanted us to appear intelligent and gain status in society, but this fear of failure has caused us to be satisfied with just being good, rather than becoming excellent.
As I look around today, I recognize the signs that people are still fearful of failing. Repeatedly, we hear people teasing other people about them not passing their exams. We will hear other people comparing themselves with others, or even calling others losers and other demeaning words. We see children and even adults sink into depression when they failed at something they set out to do. We fear failing in relationships, failing in our marriages, failing in love and commitment, failing in starting a business, failing in exams, failing in our jobs, failing as parents among other fears. Some people even resort to seeking comfort in drugs as a means of escaping the reality of their situations.
Eliminating Fear of Failure in Our Society
There is no doubt that we are living in a society ridden with feelings of fear. Although somethings will evolve, naturally, other things such as fear of failure is so ingrained in us that it needs to be properly addressed before we can see a real change in people. If we only praise those who succeed and belittle those who are not as successful, there is bound to be many persons out there who are only prepared to do things within their comfort zone.
Now that we have recognized that fear of failure is something that affects our chances of succeeding, what can we do about it? Firstly, it is normal to feel fear when we are starting out on a new venture, but we should not let these feelings prevent us from pursuing our dreams and our goals. Sooner than later, we have to realize that fear is just a feeling that we have because we do not know all of the answers. Instead of labeling our feelings as fear, maybe we can start saying we are excited, so that it diminishes the effects fear has on us and puts a positive twist to our feelings. When we say that we are feeling excited, it creates feelings that are positive compared to when we say that we are fearful.
Secondly, if something we set out to achieve does not turn out the way we would like, we should look at what we can learn from the situation and the reasons why we did not succeed. For example, if it is a relationship, rather than quitting from dating and relationships we should look at ways we contributed to what happened and take steps to correct them the next time around. If it is failing an exam, we should reflect on the possible causes for failing the exam. As Mandisa puts it in her song “You’re an Overcomer.”
Thirdly, we need to start helping children cope with failing from an early age. While we would love all children to do well in the things they participate in, when they fail, instead of belittling them, we should help them identify their weaknesses and let them know that just because they fail does not mean they are a failure. As someone once said, “Every success has a trail of failures behind it…and every failure is leading to success.” We should encourage them to see failure as an opportunity to try harder and to take different approaches than they did before. We should help them see that failure helps build character, in that, it teaches them not to give up but to see things and do things differently than they did before. We should draw examples from some of the people seen as failures in the past, but went on to become very successful.
Recognizing and taking steps to remove fear of making mistakes or failing is a prerequisite to success in today’s society. From an early age, we should take steps to help our children cope with failure and to see it as an opportunity to develop in different areas of their lives. We will not understand the true value of what we have, if people give us everything we want, without any effort on our part. Whatever it is that you are fearful of today, I encourage you to reflect on your situation and take steps to move forward and not let fears of failure cripple you into inaction.