We all have our own demons, one of mine is procrastination and with time I identified the root cause being the fear of failure. The main reason is often psychological, and only therapy can really help you strives through those thoughts that you may have.
The fear of failure
Until today, it still sometimes takes me a long time to overcome fear of failure. I feel mentally unable to perform a task or do my classes, intimately persuaded that the result can only be failure. Your environment and childhood probably have a lot to do with this feeling.
I found out that the irrational fear of failure could be caused by a traumatic event that a person experienced in the past. This traumatic experience can make a person doubt their abilities, making them believe that they are not good enough to try new things.
Here are the probable causes of your FOF :
- A perfectionist failed at something that had important consequences that really affected their life or job.
- Negative imprints from a childhood experience.
- A traumatic event where you felt socially humiliated. This discouraged you from giving a presentation in front of colleagues or public speaking.
- When your self-perception depends on how others see you, and you don’t want them to look at you as a failure.
For example, my mother was always screaming at me for hours when she wanted me to study for school, and it got into a pattern where I would wait for her to be brutal and violent for me to accomplish a certain task. I was thinking that anyway the result would be the same, so why bothering and why not waiting for a painful moment in peace ?
I was living in the constant fear of the next thing in mathematics that I would not understand immediately, that would result in hours of screaming and physical pain. This kind of environment does not help with confidence and the idea that yes, you can be successful.
Later on, I would discover I was in fact that my learning difficulties had a root cause, and that there was nothing I could have done better.
My mother and my grandfather had the idea of me doing a “classe préparatoire” like them, it’s in the French system, two years of extreme deep learning of many subjects to get ready for the big entry exams of many “Grandes écoles” , basically the path to success. More about it in this article I wrote some time ago.
I think this fear of failure had a great influence on my choices for a long time, and the worse about this feeling is that it’s self-reinforcing. Meaning each time you fail, it reinforce your own belief.
Another way to tackle it down, I would say that since it’s a belief, you can try to isolate it as it is, and think “f*ck it, let’s do it” .
Fear is usually based on emotion rather than on logic.
The main risk is to end up paralysed with failure, and it can last for a very long time. You must keep in mind that you need new perspective to failure, feedback is and will always be a chance to learn from your mistakes and grow.
Overcoming your fear
I would say that the best thing I have ever done was that year I took for myself in 2021, going into a deep therapy and counselling. It really helped me rationalizing my fears and catastrophic thinking. To the point that every other days where those fears might come back, I see them out of the blue, and I am able to tackle them much faster than I ever did.
I am not guru but tacking with the help of a professional fears you have had in the past, and in a way coming into peace with your past is very important. We can always say that we are strong or stronger than the others, but deep traumas from the past will other re-surface, or like I like to say will come back like a boomerang, right in your face.
Do what you cant – Casey Neistat
The most inspirational video that helps me get motivated in bad moments :
I am not saying you should start a Youtube channel instead of working for your next project, I am just saying it’s never too late to live your dreams instead of dreaming of your life. Keep creating, keep doing the work, no one knows anything.
Finding a purpose
I realized that each time I am feeling down, or without energy, it’s usually that I lost my goal, my objective. A purpose is that one thing that makes you happy to wake up, to begin your day, to be productive towards that one goal. The minute you lose it, your mental health go down, your weight goes up, your sleep becomes more difficult, and it spirals down to the point you are depressed.
Whatever if it’s a new project, or a trip, or finding what you like to do, think about it, and think about it now ! Why are you getting up in the morning, towards what goal, what achievement ? Making more to be able to travel to Carpadoccia or getting to know more about cave diving, whatever makes you happy, make a list !