Overcoming Fear of Failure and Imperfection

failure-imperfectionThere isn’t a more terrifying ordeal for the atelophobic than failure. Persons with this condition become so consumed with achieving perfection that it affects every aspect of their daily lives. In this article we will discuss how you can overcome your fear of failure and imperfection.

First of all, there are two types of failure – one of these is caused by not caring enough which is somewhat counter- but this only applies to failure caused by lack of effort. You failed your exam because you didn’t study hard enough? Study more next time, then. This isn’t the type of failure we’re interested in.

We’re interested in the failure that happens when we do try our best, but still fail, and it’s much harder to deal with. This is the type people truly care about, and with good reason – it’s disheartening. No one wants to fail like that. You tried your hardest, and it didn’t work, so it’s tempting to just say “forget it, I can’t do this. I tried and I failed. I give up”.

We get put off by these types of failure, and so we learn to never try. But people neglect to mention that failure of this kind is, sadly, inevitable, if we want to succeed. We are limited by our own ability – even if I tried as hard as I could, I would still fail to do a lot of things. Is that a reason to give up? No, because every time I try, I get better, no matter the outcome.

Sometimes it might feel like you’re not getting better at all. Do not be put off by constant failure, as we do not improve at anything in a linear fashion. We might practice something every day and not seem to get any better, but then something clicks and our ability spikes unpredictably. Or, if you want, you can think of it this way: You cannot succeed without failing first.

When you look at an Olympic athlete, best-selling author, Nobel Prize Winner or world-famous actor, you just see how successful they have become. What you don’t see is the hours of grueling training, rejected manuscripts, unpublished papers or failed auditions. All these people had to work extremely hard to get where they are today, and if they had decided to give up completely because of their disheartening failure, they would have never succeeded.
I guess what I’m saying is that life is, unfortunately, a lot of trial and error. If you try, you will fail. No matter. Try again. If you never try, you will never succeed.

One last thing: This isn’t a problem in your rational mind; this is a problem in your more primitive emotional self. That part of you will only learn through experience. Right now it believes that failure is death. You need to show it that failure is not that bad. You can’t break through that barrier because your mind is trying to keep you alive, therefore you feel it is physically impossible to act.

How you proceed is up to you, but you need to fail very slightly at first and then up the amount of failure over time until your brain recognizes you are fine. Trust me, you can only stay at full blown fear reactions for a limited period of time. Your brain recognizes you are not dead, and next time the reaction is softened.

Depending on where you are, you may start with something as simple as going into public with a shirt on inside out. You could go to trivia night with friends, and secretly, get the questions wrong. Hell, raise your hand in class and give the wrong answer. Create the situations that you worry about failing in, and fail. It wasn’t so bad, right?

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