Fear told me … “I’m too old… I’m too stupid… I’m not important!” … Fear’s a bitch!
Fear can be stronger than glue in keeping you stuck in many ways. Fear also allows you to become a “Door Mat” for everyone to walk on… I was a Door Mat for most of my life. Most Door Mats please everyone because they’re scared of not getting approval. Fear of loneliness also motivates staying a Door Mat. Fear kept me stuck in DoorMatville for many years on many levels. Often I didn’t even know what scared me but I was afraid to rock the boat and risk losing people I thought I needed.
A few years ago, I bought a Range Rover that I didn’t want and couldn’t afford from a friend because he needed to sell it in order to buy a new one. I hated that enormous box of a vehicle… it drank too much gas… cost too much to repair and broke down continuously. But I couldn’t say no … so I bought it and as I knew would happen … it used too much gas… cost too much to repair and broke down continuously. Who’s fault was it that I own a car I didn’t want … mine.
Even irrational fear can make sense to an insecure person.
Looking back, I realize that fear controlled me, as it does for many people. When you make your decisions based on avoiding things that scare you, you aren’t in control of your life. Fear is. As I considered leaving DoorMatville, I realized how little control I gave myself. Stepping out made me face my fears and gave me back control. It was scary. But, I realized that sacrificing my joy in life by letting fear control my decisions was scarier.
When you do something that scares you, you take the reins of your life.
I took those reins when I began to say “no” to people. Once I did it the fear turned into feeling empowered. When I saw that terrible things didn’t happen, it became easier to turn down requests. The more things I did that scared me, the less fear kept me stuck. I was still afraid and still get scared about doing certain things. But my courage is stronger and fear controls me less.
The best example of this was when I landed in Los Angeles with nothing but a suitcase and a few dollars in the bank.
Courage doesn’t mean you’re never scared. But it helps you control your response to what scares you.
I no longer get irrational about the outcome of something I’m scared of and know that in most cases I can handle the results, even if I don’t like that. Knowing that makes it worth taking risks and pushing through fear instead of letting it paralyze me from going after what I want or slowing me down too much. I can keep it all in perspective now since I’m in control!
Rationally, I know that failure is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s an inevitable part of life and even a necessary step toward success and innovation.
Irrationally, I still fear failure. And I know I’m not alone.
At some point or another, almost all of us have experienced nagging self-doubt, made negative comparisons between ourselves and those around us, or felt like we’re not talented, smart, or disciplined enough to reach our goals.
The irony is that these fears tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies. Research has shown a connection between the fear of failure and procrastination. That means that the more anxiety we feel about failing the reach our goals, the less likely we are to take action toward achieving them. It’s a completely irrational reaction, but – as anyone who has experienced this kind of paralysis can tell you – it’s a hard one to resist.
What can we do overcome fear of failure?
There are a lot of articles out there on the subject, but most end up being variations of the same cliches we’ve heard all our lives. For the record, it is not at all helpful to tell someone who fears failure to “think positively” or “be more assertive”. If it were that easy we wouldn’t be googling “how to overcome fear of failure” in the first place!
Today, I tried to keep fear in it’s proper perspective. I’m learning to face it by externalizing it. Keeping it deep within Rob is a dangerous place to be. No matter what it is … I’m writing a “pros” & “cons” list with the fear on the top of the page. If the “pros” outweigh the “cons” I realize the fear has no place in my head or my life and I ignore it and move on.
As I mentioned, I was horrified about moving to Los Angeles. The “cons” told me that I would fail… I would be laughed at and homeless on the street unable to support myself. The “pros” said I could find an apartment, finish a degree, make friends, find love again …. be happy. Fortunately, I let the fear of failure go and I am so happy I did!