Coping with a Fear of Failure


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Everyone fails, but for some reason we ignore it. People often declare, “Failure is not an option,” but in reality, it’s a requirement. Failing is such a natural part of life, yet we have a “fear of failure.” Failing is as much a part of accomplishing your goals as completing them. By ignoring our failures, we deny ourselves the opportunity to grow as well as other people the chance to learn from our mistakes. 

Sometimes our failure is big with long-term consequences that impact our life or the lives of others. Sometimes our failure is small. Big or small, failure is going to happen. On any scale, it seems detrimental, but there are a few things we need to realize about failure so we don’t let it ruin us.

Failure is inevitable, so don’t be haunted by the fear of failure. 

The more you’re able to accept this reality, the better you’ll be able to handle it. 

Don’t sweat the small stuff. 

Small failures are nothing to get worked up about, but do realize that they are still failures. If you don’t, then you won’t learn from them. 

Having a fear of failure prevents you from seeing it as an opportunity to grow. 

Failing can and, if you allow it to, will lead to success.

Failure is not sin.

Missing the mark of God’s standard of righteousness for our lives is sin. Falling short of our goal or our perspective of what we should be doing is not. The result of our sin may have caused our failure, but failure itself is not sin.

Here’s six steps on how to deal with failure and the fear of failure so we won’t feel as hindered. 

1. Don’t React.

When failure occurs, we tend to react by hiding and retreating from the world, or by taking a drastic step to either justify our failure or to correct the debacle. Often in our rash reaction, we cause more problems for ourselves or for others. Instead of responding, just sit and think about what happened:  what led to the occurrence, and what could have been done differently to prevent the situation? Consider those who were hurt and how they may need a tender response. Spend some time forgiving yourself for what you did that caused the failure and forgive yourself for failing. Take time to contemplate all of this, journal, pray, worship, but don’t rush. 

2. Separate Yourself from the Failure.

You are not a failure – don’t let anything or anyone let you feel as if you are. Your actions may have caused failure, but you are not a failure. God made us all in His perfect image. Satan came into this world to destroy. Don’t let him convince you that you’re not the beautiful person God made you to be. God’s intentions for your life and love for you don’t change just because you messed up.

3. Share with Loved Ones.

Tell your family, close friends, youth pastor, councilor, coach and mentor what you did wrong and how you failed. Then, have them tell you how they see it. By retelling your story back to you, you might see some elements that you couldn’t see before. You might realize it wasn’t entirely your fault. You might see how your failure may have impacted others more seriously than you originally thought. You may see alternative ways you could have avoided the failure. When you admit your own struggles, you’ll learn to be less hard on yourself and less judgmental of others. 

Sharing your failure becomes a great learning experience to prevent the occurrence from happening again. We are creatures of habit, so unless we learn from our mistakes, we’ll most likely experience them again. Allow these people to speak wisdom into your life, but also see how forgiving and understanding they are. By surrounding yourself by loved ones, you’ll be able to comprehend more fully how deeply God loves you and how proud He is of you.

4. Don’t Hide.

It’s normal to feel shame and self-doubt when failure takes place. But, the act of hiding something presents the idea that you should be ashamed. But, God wants to free you from that guilt and shame. If we don’t face failure and accept it for what it is, then we may repeat the same mistake over and over again. Failure once is understandable. Failure for the same thing twice is a huge waste of time, energy, effort and God’s gifts. 

When we embrace our failures, we’re more likely to see what God is trying to teach us. If we take the time to analyze, contemplate and pray about our failures, we’ll see patterns of who God is and who He’s molding us to be. So, share your story. The more you share your story, the more you’ll realize that God doesn’t want you to feel guilty or ashamed of what you did or did not do, but instead, He wants you to trust in His goodness. 

5. See Where You’ve Come.

If you allow God to work in your life and heal you from the pain of failure, you’ll grow immensely. Growth of any degree should be celebrated. You’ve become a stronger person because of your weakness. It takes courage to admit failure. Anyone can proclaim success, and most people do. That’s why it takes a lot of strength to acknowledge your shortcomings. 

6. Step Out and Don’t Let the Fear of Failure Overtake You.

Once you’ve learned from your failure, get back out there. Don’t avoid failure, but learn from it and see what God has in store for you because you’re willing to step out in faith. God will be right beside you through it all. 

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