5 Steps to Overcoming Your Fear of Failure

The fear of failure manifests itself differently for everyone. Because you are so unique in how you perceive and understand the world, there is no “one size fits all” set of steps to overcome this fear. If you struggle with feeling this way, here are some ways your fear of failure may express itself. There are definitely other ways your fear of failure can manifests itself; these are just a few ways that I’ve experienced it happen within myself:

  • Do-Nothing-ism: literally doing nothing because you feel as though anything you do will have no real effect, sometimes leaving you to feel hopeless
  • Self-Sabotage: engaging in destructive behavior (consciously or unconsciously) that directly prevents you from getting started or moving forward
  • Deflection/Diversion: distracting yourself with something that does not align with the path to your goal in order to avoid confronting your fear
  • Self-Doubt: believing (even momentarily) that you are not good enough, or ready enough to meet a goal

To really understand your fear of failure, to dig deep for its root, you must see it as multi-layered, manifesting itself in multiple forms. It may appear as do-nothing-ism on one day, self-doubt the next day, or both throughout a single day. Which leads me to my next point: your fear of failing at a task, a job, or life in general has just as much to do with your habits as it does with who you are. It has just as much to do with external stimuli as it does with internal conviction. Your fear is not simple and to treat it as such would be dishonest. So, let’s be honest and get deep about this fear you have.

Digging Deep to Find Your Fear

Before you can even take action against your fear of failure, you need to spend time finding it. Recognizing it. Many of us struggle with internal conflict yet not many of us can really articulate what we feel conflicted about. Sometimes this type of confusion within or distance from our “self” can lead to a stronger sense of conflict as we become frustrated with our inability to pinpoint exactly what it is we are feeling and why.

I suggest allotting time in each day for introspection. Speculate about your fears, where they come from, and why they linger. Do you usually feel afraid in certain settings, like your office or at the gym? Is there a habit you keep up that is part of the reason you are scared, like checking social media often or eating out a lot? The reason you want to know the answers to questions like these is because they will tell you a lot about the things which shape your mindset and further your feelings. Maybe you consistently compare yourself to people who are living the life you want, so you begin to doubt your ability to achieve the same life – fear of failure. Or maybe you watched a video by a fitness guru on how they achieved their fitness goals and after hearing about the challenges they faced, the sacrifices they had to make, you freaked out. Instead of starting a workout regimen of your own, you avoid the topic altogether and find something easier to do.

Digging deep to find the reasons for your fear of failure means watching yourself and getting out of your own way. I know what it’s like to feel as though the barriers are outside of you. BUT, many times this is not case. Many times, the very thing standing between you and your dream is YOU.

Finally, Taking Action!

If you haven’t had a chance to check out my initial post on the fear of failure, feel free to go ahead and check it out before you get into the steps I’m about to list.

Combating our fears is an emotional process that forces us to confront issues deep within that we regularly avoid. It’s easy to be dismissive of inner turmoil nowadays when we’re being overstimulated by the world around us. This world does not always require emotional intelligence to the extent that we can help others, rather, it requires us to be okay enough so that we can get things done. In a sense, there is a cut off to how deep we can really get with ourselves because what’s outside of us may feel more worth our time than what’s inside of us. But that isn’t true.

How you take on life has a lot to do with how well you know yourself. The better you know yourself, the more in tune you are with life overall. The less you know yourself, the less in touch you are with life. Step 1:

  • Get to know yourself. Learn who you are. Find the connections between your reactions and your actions. Ask yourself, “Why do I feel hopeless? When do I feel discouraged?” There is no better judge of your character than yourself and when you can judge yourself with a stronger sense of what makes you YOU, then you do it with grace instead of chastisement. As you begin to make light of all that you are – not just a student, CEO, teacher, firefighter, whatever – the world around you will start to look different. Essentially, learning more about you and not the people you see through your phone screen, tv screen, or computer screen will teach you to spend more time with yourself as you’ll realize that you are so much more than the image you assume through the eyes of others.

Once you’ve spent some time on the inside, you’ll be more comfortable on the outside. The next step is basically a fusion of both, learning who you are inside to grasp what it is you have to offer the world. So, step 2:

  • Define your purpose. The conviction you have for the things you do in life is stronger when your actions are guided by a central purpose. For some people, helping others is purposeful enough while for others, their purpose needs to be more specific. Helping others can be specified into helping victims of child abuse or helping youth who come from broken homes. Take some times to write down what you believe your purpose is. Since you’ve already gotten to know yourself, defining your purpose should relate to who you are. Think about what excites you in life. Remember those moments when you felt extremely passionate about a cause or even a situation that happened. If you’re not ready to make it specific, meaning you aren’t sure who exactly you want to help or how you want to contribute to a cause, then start off slow. As you start to live life with this purpose in mind, it will take the shape you want it to.

Having a purpose in life truly makes all the difference. Once you define your purpose, you can create a life around it. In creating this life, there are strides to be made so that your purpose is fulfilled and in doing so, habits must be formed. Now to step 3:

  • Rethink your habits. What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Do you go to the bathroom to brush your teeth or do you check your phone? Do you make yourself a glass of warm lemon water with honey or do you go back to sleep for another 5 minutes? No habit is a bad habit unless it interrupts the flow of things in a way that makes fulfilling your purpose difficult. This does not mean that every single thing you do in life has to revolve around this said purpose, but most things should – should they not? You know the cliché saying that humans are creatures of habit, but this saying says nothing about how our habits shape our lives. From the moment we wake up to the moment we lay to sleep, consistency is key in molding ourselves to be our best selves, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Adopting healthier or better habits takes time. As I usually say, baby steps. If you want to read more consistently, work yourself up to it by starting with 5 minutes every other day and then 10 minutes every day, so on so forth. If you want to make more time for yourself in the morning, start by not checking your phone for the first hour when you wake up. Speaking of checking your phone, this ties into step 4:

  • Eliminate negative sources of comparison. This one gets a bit tricky because at times, comparing ourselves to others can actually be quite motivating. Like seeing our partners lose weight and witnessing how much happier they seem. That’s a good source of comparison. But comparing ourselves to Instagram profiles, fictional characters, fitness models, and the like can worsen our self-doubt. We see people who have what we think is “ALL”, but we aren’t able to witness their journey to that point. In our minds, we believe it’s too late or that if we try, even just a little bit, we’ll never be like her, him, or them. If you want to overcome your fear of failure, you’ve got to clean out the junk from your mind. If social media is a strong source of negative comparison for you, maybe try taking a 30-day break. Or even if you spend time with a friend whose life seems better than yours, let them know in a kind way that you need some personal time for a while. Removing sources of comparison from your life can become challenging as some of these sources may be out of your control. In situations where this is the case, it’s important that you remain strong and rethink your habit of self-comparison. Bring awareness to your mind that this is in fact what you are doing and remind your mind that there’s no need for it. Say, “I am ME. This is MY journey.”

It’s hard not to compare ourselves when the source of comparison is right in our face. But for the things we CAN change, we must take the opportunity to use what we are in control of to our advantage in order to create the world we want to live in. Our minds are very powerful and can trick us into believing things that are not true for the simple fact that our perceptions of that which is outside of us is shaped by that which is instilled deep within. This is obviously why eliminating sources of comparison is the fourth step because it is difficult to do without completing the first three. And when you’re confident that you’ve conquered the first four steps OR when all else fails, move on to step 5:

  • Go for it! As I mentioned in my last post, DOING is better than not doing anything at all. What can break us in this step is the overwhelming feeling of perfection, wanting our first time to be the best time. But if we don’t mess up, we’ll never get better and if we don’t ever try, we’ll never know what the future holds. Apply to that job you think you’re unqualified for. If they say no, then keep it pushing. Train for that 10K race. If you make it last, at least you finished. The mentality that you have to be at the top to be successful or everyone has to like you for you to be somebody is much less a safe haven than it is a dead-end. For once, get out of your head, get on your feet, and move!

As you can see, when it comes to the fear of failure, YOU are your biggest challenge. Learning to navigate who you are within and the world without is a constant dialogue in which you have to remain engaged, present. Be your strength. Be your clarity. Be your focus. Your mind is the highest mountain of them all. You either stand on top of it or look up at its peak from below – in overcoming your fear of failure, you’re still climbing.

Freewoman’s Top 5 Playlist #1

What I love about writing is that you can write about anything.

the freewoman diaries is not simply about strength, love, and confidence.
It is a platform for me to share all the different ways in which these concepts are expressed in my life and how I come to a deeper understanding of what it means to be strong, to love someone, or to feel confident.

With the extra time that I have now, after following a trajectory that was not really my own, I get to reflect on what my true passions are. What I like to do for fun. What gets me excited!

Music is definitely one of those things.
Since I’ve always wanted to create a playlist that I could share with other people, I thought, why not share it on my blog?
I am definitely more of an R&B/Rap/Soul girl, but I enjoy taking in alternative genres and a slice of pop.

In this playlist, I’m including songs/music videos that I feel embody a freewoman. That is, she lives her life by her own standards. Free to create. Free to express herself however she sees fit.

FYI, I’m mixing the old with the new.

 

1. Dua Lipa – New Rules

This song is A-mazing! The video and Lipa’s lyrics are empowering to other women; it conveys a message of women joining forces to get through tough times together. You see, this is part of being a freewoman. Being able to uplift other women instead of tear them down. Building each other back up through support and accountability. Reminding her that her worth is not determined by anyone else except for herself.
I’ve seen this video too many times already and I still love it.

2. Sade – Soldier of Love

To be as graceful and spiritually candid as Sade.
She truly sets the tone for sticking to love when all else fails. Love is the answer to anger.
When I listen to this song, I imagine a woman who went through heartbreak, pain, or suffering. Just when she thought that the world was all bad or that she would never see “the light”, she remembered how strong she was and that love was the solution to her problems.

3. Alicia Keys – A Woman’s Worth

“She will if she can find a man who knows her worth”
This song right here is a classic for all my ladies who wanna add an “mmph” to their day. “A Woman’s Worth” is one of those songs I obsess over. And I love watching videos from back in the day when Alicia Keys was still rocking her cornrows.

4. JoJo – Leave (Get Out)

I think I was just about to go into middle school when this song came out. I remember having to use a proxy site at school to watch this on the computer.
I share this video because it reminds me of how my generation was presented with the idea of a woman dealing with heartbreak and sticking with her home girls.
You might think this is a bit too old. And maybe it is. I just miss the days when wearing tennis shoes that matched your shirt made you feel cute.
Jojo has definitely grown as an artist although she took a break from the spotlight for some time. It’s nice to know that she’s back, happy, and healthy.

5. Demi Lovato – Sorry Not Sorry

I am really feeling this song! Not only does Demi look great, but the lyrics make you feel like you’re too good to be treated any less. I admit, I’m not that big a fan of the title, “bad bitch“, but I’m not knocking anyone who uses it to inflict confidence into others. Demi Lovato is the last person I would have imagined using the term, but she really put it to good use in this song. Demi’s vocals are on point in this video and the message is spot-on if you went through a breakup of some sorts. “Sorry Not Sorry” is for my ladies who need some encouragement to start feeling themselves.

 

How to Release Your Inner-Freewoman

It was my junior year in college when I started to find myself. Discovering my womanhood and what the world had to offer, I started craving sex and a good time. So I got a tattoo:

freewoman” it read across the inside of my wrist.

You know, the whole “my body is my temple” sentiments that some of us carry? Well, all my life I said I would never get a tattoo. But for some reason, the thought of doing something I said I would never do made me feel loose. Un-grounded for once. Free.

My roommates thought I was crazy. Hell, I thought I was crazy.
But I had a tattoo in less than 2 hours. And my roommate decided that if I could get a tattoo, then so could she. A week later she topped my single word with an entire quote tattooed down her spine!

You see, freedom is both external and internal. External in the sense that you can do whatever you want to your body. Internal in that you should not hold yourself captive to self-bounding, self-doubting, fearful thoughts.

In those moments you find your mind battling between rationality and spontaneity, listen to your gut feeling that’s telling you which action to take. Don’t be afraid of what will happen after. You won’t know the future until you actually do something first!

Say Yes to What You Usually Say No

Try stepping outside your comfort zone by doing the opposite of what you normally do. Just for one day in the week, challenge yourself to appreciate the limitless opportunities for growth. Take a chance on something you never really liked, never really imagined, never really wanted before.

Here are some tips:

  • Think about your daily routine and what you do the same each day. How can you switch things up in a way that doesn’t feel like torture, but does make you excited, curious, determined?
  • Don’t force yourself to do something that truly makes you unhappy.
  • Ask your partner, close friend, or a family member what they think you are most stubborn about. What are some areas that they think you could lighten up in? (You do you at the end of the day, but it doesn’t hurt to hear what others see in you that maybe you don’t. Of course, take what anyone says about who you are with a grain of salt.)
  • Look at this activity as an opportunity to try something new rather than something you don’t like.

When in doubt, choose something simple. For example, I practice smiling more than I usually would even though I already smile a lot. Something about a smile brightens up my day and everything else around me.

Stay in Your Lane

Your lane and your lane only.
With the constant flow of information that is coming into our brains on a daily basis, we have greater exposure to what’s happening in other parts of the world near and far. More specifically, what’s happening in other people’s lives.
We can be so happy for – and sometimes envious of – someone else’s achievements. But we feel disappointment in our lack of accomplishment and mourn over the things we don’t have. Allowing ourselves to be distracted and obsessed with the privileges and luxuries that other people have.

It is hard to forget about these things when media throws it in your face every chance they get. Still, you can implement strategies to keep you focused on your life, your presence and the presence of others around you.

  • Don’t spend time on your phone or computer unless you have to.
  • Go for lots of walks by yourself and make sure to take in any nature that surrounds you.
  • Start journaling (highly recommend). Reflect on YOURSELF.
  • Schedule time with yourself. Be firm about your ME-time and don’t let anyone change your plans.
  • Try saying “I” more often. You may have to replace some they’s he’s or she’s.
  • Keep busy, but get some rest. More sleep means less time for FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) to kick in.
  • Pick up a new hobby. The more time you spend improving, the less time you have to reprimand yourself.

Forgive Yourself

If you find yourself bent over in a huddle because you’re not where you want to be yet or you still haven’t reached a goal that you set a few months ago, just breathe. Forgive yourself.

You only get one life and it’d be a bummer if you spent it constantly feeling sorry for yourself. Angry with yourself for not being someone you’re not or not doings things that you just don’t have it in your heart to do. Too many times we give ourselves shit for not measuring up to standards that are usually meaningless or impractical.
Who cares if you don’t have more than enough money?
Why does it matter if you don’t like to dress up?
What’s so bad about double texting?

The moment you forgive yourself for not being perfect is when you will release your inner-freewoman. If you’re struggling to let go of self-resentment for something you did or didn’t do, ask yourself:

  • Why I do feel so bad about what I did (or didn’t) do?
  • What can I change about what happened (or didn’t happen)?
  • What can I do better next time?
  • What have I learned from my actions or lack thereof?

After you ask yourself these questions, then look in the mirror and say, “I am not a bad person.” Again, you’re not perfect. And you never will be. Accept YOU for YOU because that’s the only way you’ll ever be able to embrace internal and external freedom together.

A Silent Killer: The Fear of Failure

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.” – Ken Robinson

Writing this post was probably the scariest experience I’ve had in a while. I’m considering this to be the “real” first post of the freewoman diaries since the site’s revisions and I wanted to get it as right as possible. I wanted this post to be perfect so bad to the point that I spent hours coming up with headlines that had to do with strength, love, or confidence. In the end, I found myself creatively crippled, stuck in a trance of self-doubt, while lying in a recliner chair staring up at the ceiling. I guess I was waiting for the perfect idea to fall down and find me.

This is the fear of failure. And it’s a silent killer when you can’t recognize it in yourself.

My struggle with writer’s block and fear of not being effective in the blogging community are what kept me from even starting to write this post. Every time I’d sit down to write, my heart would start racing and I could feel it in my chest, in my neck. I was panicking from the jump! Eventually I found the courage to get this all off my chest, but it took me to recognize that I was afraid of failing at this writing thing in order to get over the mental hump. That mental hump was myself.

Self-Sabotage

Fear of failure doesn’t always inspire us to work harder, smarter, or better. Instead, it leads us to lower our expectations whenever the stakes feel high because what’s at the end of the tunnel may not be better than what we have now. This type of mindset keeps us stagnant. We start to overestimate how little we have to offer the world and underestimate how much it has to offer us. It becomes routine to expect so little, come out with just enough, and experience little to no repercussions.

Most of us can’t or won’t admit that we have a fear of failure. Instead, we’ll deal with our anxiety over the what if’s and maybe’s through procrastination, drug/substance abuse, or do-nothing-ism. Our self-sabotage behaviors come as a result of our fear of failure, however, because the effects of our behaviors take time to really show, many of us will remain in this daze for our entire lives. The solution is to admit that change is needed within, yet, to do so without guilt takes lots of self-love and internal patience.

Failure is Inevitable

The American way has always been to pull yourself up by your “bootstrap”. If you work hard enough you’ll be successful. What is success but a false notion of achievement? If you never fail, you’ll never be prepared to go all the way. You’ve got to get it out of your head that failure is a reflection of your success and that your success is a measurement of your worth. Failure is everywhere in the world, but why do you only see it in yourself?

In this sense, fear is our anxiety of not knowing what will happen if we try. Instead of succumbing to our fear, trapping ourselves inside our head, we should use our fear as fuel to do what we have to do until it goes away. If we fail in the process, good job.

Learning from your mistakes, or shortcomings, is the best way to clarify your direction in life. When fear of failure keeps us from even starting, we feel confused about where to start when we are ready. We really just confuse ourselves trying to decide what the best first course of action is. We forget that starting means trusting ourselves, our gut, to take us in the right direction. Letting our deepest feelings guide us towards our base.

Do Something

If you want to combat your fear of failure, you’ve got to get yourself to DO. Many times, facing your fears head on can bring up an exhilaration inside of you that is long lasting, inspiring you to do a little more or start a little sooner each time you’re faced with a task/goal. If writing is what you’re struggling with, then you’ve got to start with pen and paper. If cooking is your current aspiration, then you’ve got to start with a salad. And if you want to live a more active lifestyle, then you can’t go wrong with walking.

For all your dreams, there’s a place to start. The fear of failure can trick you into thinking that if you don’t achieve a certain end result, then all your efforts will have been a waste of time. But the truth is that spending all your time wishing and waiting for a dream to happen is the biggest waste of time. It get’s you nowhere. Having something to show is better than nothing at all. If you can at least take the first step, whatever you decide it is, you’re closer than most.

Watch out for a follow up post on how to take action against your fear of failure.

WHY I CREATED the freewoman diaries

TFD is a blog.

I created this blog because I I wanted to share my writing in a creative way.

I caught onto the idea of blogging a few years ago, but it was writing that I’ve always wanted to pursue. And an aspect of writing is creating content that is both deep and reflective. Blogging allows me to both share my writing and connect with other women – and men – who can relate to what I am conveying.

When I initially started this blog, I was simply writing just to get my feet wet. But now I’ve had time to establish what I want to share about my life, which is guided by three major themes:

Strength.

Love.

and Confidence.

I found myself contemplating whether or not I was really qualified to discuss these topics with the intentions of connecting with and inspiring other women. But I realized that life is what makes me qualified. We all live it. And we all take lessons and meanings away from it that shape us into who we are. But those lessons and meanings we take away are different for each of us. Because we are all unique and no one life is the same as another.

I created The Freewoman Diaries because I wanted to connect with other women like me. The women who question the values instilled in them from a young age. The women who take chances and put themselves out there to get to where they are today. The women who have broken down and built themselves back up. The women who are continuously searching for themselves, finding themselves, and losing themselves. Just to do it all over again.

That’s what life is about. Learning and growing from our experiences. Time after time after time.

So far in my life, I’ve acquired a bundle of experiences from which I’ve taken away my lessons and meanings that are unique to me. All of them different, unique unto themselves, yet, similar in many ways. I’ve pondered these similarities and, as mentioned before, identified three major themes in my life.

Strength.

Love.

and Confidence.

These are the themes that appear time after time for me. And these are the themes that, in their most general form, have shaped me. And continue to consistently show themselves, clearer and richer every time. That is strength, love, and confidence.

My core values, they are a part of who I am and what I aspire to – in their purest forms of course.

The Freewoman Diaries is part of this aspiration. My desire to be the best ME I can be. And in order to do that, I have to believe that I already am. This is the belief that I want to share with you and hear about from you. Through writing.

Although we are good enough, we can always be better. I strive to be better in health, fitness, my spiritual practice, and writing. These things may manifest differently for you than they do for me. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from each other’s experiences.

My hope is that we can learn from each other through The Freewoman Diaries.

Leave comments on my posts in the future to share your thoughts!

If you read this full post, you a real one!