Conquering Fear of Failure

release your grip

Release your grip. Good advice… but almost impossible for the worrier, for the perfectionist, for those with low self-esteem and overwhelming anxiety. How can someone who suffers from this all-or-nothing thinking conquer their fear of failure?

For me, my perfectionism manifests itself in unrealistic expectations. In order to overcome my fear that others will see the true failure that I am, I have to be absolutely perfect in all I do. Unrealistic.

I have built a false facade of togetherness and people come to me for answers. How can I give out such good advice but take none of it for myself? I must demonstrate perfectionism in all I do day in and day out so that others will see me as successful. Unrealistic.

If I have trouble parenting my child others will see just what a screw-up I am. My child is a product of my knowledge and advice to others therefore he must be perfectly behaved and a model of excellence at all times. Unrealistic.

My marriage is strong and serves as a source of support for others, therefore we must never argue or get annoyed with each other and must do everything right. Unrealistic.

Unrealistic expectations of myself and others.

How many times have I heard this? Why is this a battle I must constantly fight? Why must my constant fear of failure cause me (and my family) undue stress and anxiety? How can I seek to overcome this unforgiving attitude that robs me from the satisfaction of things I do well?

Through these many years of battling my own psyche I have learned 5 things that help me to overcome my constant need for perfectionism and overwhelming fear of failure.

  1. Focus On The Good – Take a moment to step back and find what is good about the particular situation and shift your mind from the dread and overwhelming possibility of failure to one of confidence and success.
  2. Talk Through Your Anxiety – Step back and mentally walk your self through what it is that is causing you worry. Go ahead and imagine the end result and talk yourself through the experience by changing your inner voice from one of negativity to one of positivity.
  3. Baby Steps! – This is perhaps the hardest of all. Perfectionists tend to want to skip to the end, are easily distractible, and rush through the stuff they don’t like. Taking small steps helps to move forward in a steady and thorough manner allowing for bite-sized goals and small achievements along the way.
  4. Take A Break – Sometimes it helps to get outside of the task and view it from a different angle. I find that if I go for a walk the fresh air helps me relax and when my anxiety is lowered I’m able to see more clearly.
  5. Learn To Love Criticism – The successful end result is the validation perfectionists seek. However, sometimes things don’t go according to plan. Learning to accept what went wrong and not internalizing the failure can help to improve your mindset and feedback is important to growth.

Of course, I am not a psychologist so please take this advice as friendly and not professional. I hope that these five things help you as much as they’ve helped me. Taking a step back, taking a deep breath, taking a fresh look can help you to overcome your need unrealistic standards of perfection. For more information on anxiety and/or to locate a professional check out the ‘find a psychologist’ locator via the American Psychological Association.

Do you have something that has worked for you that you’d like to share? What tips or tricks do you use to overcome your perfectionism?