How to Overcome the Fear of Failure

DR JOHN DEMARTINI   -   Updated 2 years ago

Fear of failure is simply a feedback mechanism to make sure you are setting authentic goals that are aligned with your highest values.


DR JOHN DEMARTINI - Updated 2 years ago

Your fear of failure is simply a feedback mechanism within your mind to make sure you are setting truly authentic goals that are aligned with your true highest values and not unrealistic fantasies that are unreasonable and poorly strategized.

Fears and Phobias

For every philia there occurs a phobia. For every fantasy there occurs a nightmare. Once you set reasonable and objective goals that are truly strategized and chunked down into specific attainable action steps your fear spontaneously dissolves. Your mind becomes clear and free of fear once you set truly meaningful, inspired and congruent goals.

There is no such thing as the fear of the unknown, there is only the fear of what you imagine is about to happen. Fears are content specific.

If you set up a one-sided fantasy about success, you’re going to set yourself up for an accompanying fear of failure. When you imagine it is going to bring you only pleasurable and positive outcomes without also dealing with challenges, the fear of failure will go with it.

"The more you fantasize about your success, the more you’ll breed your nightmare."

Ungrounded fantasies breed nightmares or fears, just like ungrounded elations breed depressions.

To mitigate your fear, ground yourself in what your success will bring

With success comes new sets of challenges, responsibilities, pains and pleasures.

If you have an objective goal that is even and balanced between the benefits and challenges, you will have less of a fear of failure. You will have your strategy in place with a set of contingencies.

So the more you plan your goal, the more you know all the responsibilities, accountabilities and challenges you are going to face. The more realistic and congruent your goal, the less fantasy you will have and the less fear of failure you will feel.

Click below for the video of this article.


Practical example of fear of failure

Thirty-two years ago I was in New York City about to stand up in front of 5,000 people and give a presentation. I was one of six speakers, and the six of us were sitting in a line about to go up and speak each for 20 minutes.

There was another speaker behind me who was really nervous. His whole dream, his life’s goal was to do that particular speech. His father had done it years ago and he’d always wanted to be on that particular stage. It was bigger than life for him. Walking up onto that stage and talking was his ultimate goal, there was nothing greater than this.

So his fear of failing up in front of those people was strong. He was so anxious because he had made this speech such a grand, important thing. He made this so high on his list of goals that his anxiety was also extremely high.

By contrast, I saw it as just another of one of my many speeches or speaking engagements that I had done and intended to continue doing. To me it was inspiring to have the opportunity to present there, but it was not my ultimate end all.

"I loved presenting on that stage, but I was less attached to the outcome as he was and was more focused on my message that served than how I would be judged."

I saw it as another stepping stone – one of thousands that I envisioned. My anxiety was much less because I didn’t make it as highly important. I certainly prepared and delivered an inspiring presentation and loved the audience, but my long-term vision was much larger than that particular event.

Exaggerating a goal creates the fear of failure

If you set a goal that is in line with your highest values, it becomes more spontaneous.

You become more objective and plan strategically. You will become more prepared for the pros and the cons and the ups and the downs, the positives and negatives, in pursuing your goal.

Therefore you are more grounded in your expectations. You know the responsibilities it takes to get the goal. So you’ve softened the fantasy and you’ve softened the nightmare at the same time.

If you set a goal that is not aligned with your highest values, you will probably not be as prepared or balanced. You will automatically be more vulnerable to setting a grandiose fantasy and have an accompanying fear of failure.

You can’t fear the unknown, but you can have fear of what you imagine is about to occur

The content of your mind when the phobia emerges is an assumption that there is going to be more negatives than positives, more pains than pleasures, more challenges than supports if you fail.

You can’t fear the unknown, but you can have fear of what you imagine is about to occur.

That fantasy of what you imagine will occur if you succeed is very specific. Your intuition knows there is two sides to the equation of success. You intuitively know the goal will also have drawbacks to balance the benefits.

So it is wise to get your more objective executive center in your brain on line with realistic and strategic goal setting.

"The fear of failure occurs when you assume that what you think is about to happen is going to bring about more drawbacks than benefits, more negatives than positives, more gains than losses."

You cannot have a fear of failure without the accompanied fantasy of success.

That’s why setting a more balanced goal is most important.

"Strategizing the details and responsible action steps, so you are more grounded in your objectives, is the key to greater achievement."


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