Fear of failure and fear of success are the same things. You could say they are two sides of the same coin. They have the same outcome when you don’t take control of them. That outcome is stagnation.
Fear of failure makes us shy away from doing things because we are afraid we won’t do a good job or won’t do the right job. It makes us avoid doing things we want and like to do. We become adept at avoiding situations that put us in a position to possibly fail. Possibly is the key word there. We might fail. We might not. The fear is the same either way. So we withdraw from the activities we love, the people we love, and we allow ourselves to become more reclusive out of fear of something that may not happen.
Fear of success works the same way. When you have never had successes with positive feedback, encouragement that shows you that it is a good thing to succeed, reaching that finish line is just as terrifying as not reaching it. The process repeats itself. We withdraw from our lives until we are so afraid of doing anything that we find ourselves sitting at home alone eating ice cream in our underwear wondering how in the hell we ended up like this.
The problem with these fears is that their origins are so far back in our development. What we see our parents do and how they encourage our tiny selves has an enormous impact on how we learn to fail or succeed. The problem is if we don’t get enough of the right type of encouragement and support we never learn how to conquer the fear. It will have a ripple effect on everything we do throughout our entire lives. Every job, relationships, friendships, social situations, even answering the phone, all of these things that most people take for granted are major hurdles when you are so full of fear.
The question then becomes how do we learn to conquer those fears? Recognizing that you have a fear of failure or success is the first step. Just like an addiction, you have to recognize and admit that you have a problem before you can work toward fixing it. Once you see this fear for what it is, evaluate where you are and how you got there. Are you doing what you really want to do? Are you happy doing what you’re doing or do you go to work every day wishing you were somewhere else? Are you happy with your relationships? How you feel about every aspect of your life is impacted by these fears and how you react to them.
Here is another key word for you: react. The way to conquer these fears is to stop reacting and start acting. Don’t hesitate. Don’t stop and think about what may happen. Make a decision to do something and do it. Stop worrying about if you can do something and start wondering what will happen after you do it. Will you be happy? Will you be better off emotionally, financially, socially? Will you get a step closer to the place you want to be? The other thing to do is surround yourself with people who will encourage you and still be brutally honest. Friends that tell you what you want to hear are not doing you any favors. They are enablers that will only help you stay in the stagnant pond of week-old sweat you’re already wallowing in. Talk to the friends who tend to piss you off when they tell you the truth. I would bet dollars to doughnuts they piss you off because you know they are right. Start talking to them and really listen. Don’t be afraid to tell them they were right and you need help getting to where you want to be. True friends will always be willing to help as long as you are willing to put in the work.
We each have the ability to take control of our lives, our emotions, our fears and live happy productive lives doing something that makes us happy to wake up and go to work every morning. We have the ability to choose whether or not we let the circumstances of our current situations continue to control us. We can choose to learn from our parents and decide for ourselves if those lessons are effective for our lives. We have the power to conquer our fears.