Falling down won’t kill us. Yet why are we so afraid to fail?
I’m holding back. Hesitating to really put all my heart and effort into a new venture that has recently come into my life.
I started searching for the source of my resistance but it was someone else that had to point out the obvious.
I’m afraid to fail.
So I’ve had a few failed ventures in the past couple of years but I know there’s no shame in that. When we try new things, not all of them will turn out the way we hope. Ok. I get it. Now will life please leave me alone with this lesson? Seriously.
I am faced with a problem. My dreams could be coming true and yet I am afraid to step into them.
This new opportunity is exciting yet I am tempted to stay hidden amongst my past hurts and disappointments, clinging on to the fear-driven idea I have that ‘things never work out for me’. How awful to consider that my sensitive heart and ego might end lying up on the floor yet again.
So I step cautiously, my heart resistant to invest in something where success is unknown. What am I really afraid of?
My worst-case scenario is this: that I find myself back at square one again recalling that this was just another false start that didn’t live up to my hopeful expectations. This is what I would like to avoid at all costs. But I know I can’t avoid that possibility.
Unfortunately I know the cost of avoiding the pain of failure will be my dream.
This is why I’m stuck at a crossroads. I know why I’m feeling this. It’s because I’m not good at failure.
My first 30 years were filled with mostly wins and for a while life was sweet but…on the eve of my thirtieth birthday it all came tumbling down. My marriage first, then my dream job. I was ready to let them both go but I hated doing so before I could see what the next move would be. It didn’t matter. Life stepped in and forced my hand in both situations and I bravely stepped into the unknown with the optimism only reserved for fools and Pollyannas.
But as time went on it seemed my winning streak had run out. There was no new relationship or new job waiting for me at the end of my leap of faith. I landed roughly into a long transition zone that is still playing itself out.
I felt I had let myself down and made a wrong turn somewhere. In my mind because I had stopped winning I had became a failure. I felt like I had made a lot of progress on the inner stuff but I had nothing to show on the outside to prove even the slightest degree of success. My life looked empty and missing of the love and purpose that I had normally associated with ‘the good life’.
I guess this is why I’m stuck. I don’t want to fail again.
Actually, I’m just lying to myself. I do know what I need to do, I just don’t want to because it scares the shit out of me.
What I need to do is let myself fail. To be ok with things not working out the way I had planned and try not to over-identify myself with my successes or failures.
I know I have to take the risk that this too might prove to be another fail against my name. The funny thing about this situation: it could also prove to be a great success. I just don’t know yet.
But whether this new venture lasts or simply teaches me some important skills or lessons along the way to the next thing, I know I can’t keep running from my fear of failure.
I don’t want to be that person. In avoiding risk I know I will also be avoiding the great things that could come into my life. Even though I’m really scared it’s better to open myself up to the possibility of disappointment than to live a life of mediocrity and unfulfilled potential. It’s the dilemma we all face.
The funny thing about failure is that we often feel like it’s going to kill us. The fear can be so big that we will stay small and avoid any sense of risk.
But I don’t really have a choice here on this one. And neither do you.
In being willing to fail what we are really saying is that we are also willing to succeed. I guess that’s the lesson in failure: being ok with whatever happens.