Reframing Fear of Failure (#4 of 5)

April 18, 2021

Fear of Failure is the irrational fear that we won’t succeed at doing something that’s important to us.

This fear happens when we have thoughts that overestimate the risks that we associate with attempting to DO the new thing.

These irrational risk-based thoughts create feelings of fear, which cause us to engage in avoiding behaviors like procrastination, hiding, playing small and a host of other self-limiting actions.

So first, let’s look at what we mean by ‘overestimating the risks’ we associate with trying something new.

This tends to crop up when we’re trying something we don’t yet have experience in doing.

I mean think about it. If we feel competent at something because we’ve done it before, we have every reason to believe we can do it again.

This is where confidence comes from. It comes from looking at our past and knowing what we ‘for sure’ have successfully done. 

If the new thing we want to go do is similar or the same as things we’ve already done before, we’re confident in our competence at doing the thing. So, `we likely won’t sink into Fear of Failure.

But when we DON’T have experience with the new thing we want to try or go do, that’s when we tend to overestimate the risks of doing the thing.

Psychologists refer to this as Catastrophizing.

There are two types. Catastrophizing about current or future situations.

Catastrophizing is when we imagine the worst thing that could happen, or we exaggerate the difficulties we’ll face in doing the thing.

The problem with catastrophizing is that we tend to enlarge the challenge.

This is because we’ll start with an observation of a potentially difficult thing. 

Then this leads to a cascade of follow-on thoughts, each getting potentially larger.
For more, check out the full episode.

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