Click How to Fight the Fear of Failure for the Audio of this post:
Today I want to talk about how to fight the fear of failure, how it affected my own life growing up with a speech impediment, and some steps to overcoming it. Just a couple of days ago, I posted that I would be writing on this, and NOW here it is.
Here are some facts about fear
1. It will paralyze you. You already know that. As one growing up with a speech impediment, I feared talking because I knew the outcome: others would make fun of the way I talked. So, shutting up seemed like a good option.
2. It will Drive you. We need to be careful here, because depending how we handle this it can be good…or bad. For instance. In the bad sense, it will consume you to reach a level of expectations that others have for you. Because I feared getting involved, my self esteem was low and so whenever others would tell me that I would be good at such and such a endeavor, I jumped thinking perhaps they are right. Perhaps this will be the break that I have longed for. Well, I was driven towards success but only because I did not want to fail. This is a recipe for STRESS CITY. Please don’t go there.
On the other hand, this drivenness can be good IF you realize the opportunities from it: it can drive you to learn more about yourself and why you are stuck. For me, I learned that I was stuck because of I did not want to be content with the very life that God had given me.
3. Another component of fear is the acceptance of victim mentality. Here we can fall back into thinking ‘woe is me, if only somebody did something for me than all would be fine’. Well there is truth in that statement and that is that somebody is YOU!
I sadly find that some Christians have this attitude too. They believe rightly that Jesus Christ has forgiven their sins and is victorious now as King. But, and here is the hangup, they expect Him to do it all, while they remain couch potatoes, looking at this obstacle and wondering ‘well, when IS He going to do something about THAT’.
Well to my brothers and sisters, I say this ‘he has’. In James 4:7, God’s word tells us to R-E-S-I-S-T Satan. Hmmm. Again, God’s word tells US to resist Satan. Seems to be that some effort needs to be put into here.
Roots of Fear
We really need to be careful on this one. While there are roots for fear, we should acknowledge them, but not linger in pointing the blame at them. Here are just some roots
- Critical parents
- Traumatic events.
Well, I had them both! But, I do want to declare that I knew my parents loved me, but in their desire to have be be all that I could be, their overprotection of what I should or should not do affected me. They wanted to be sure I had the ‘right’ friends and did the ‘right’ stuff so that I would be/become a normal(?) kid.
Let me go off an a tangent here. I think it is pertinent:
To my parents credit, it was because of them that I overcame my speech impediment. My mom was relentless in helping me, and even told my pediatrician who had told her that the best she could expect from me as a high school education. Word to the wise: never tell mothers their kids won’t succeed for it is akin to pouring fuel onto a fire
Well, long story short, I received my Masters of Divinity, and I LOVE to LEARN. How is that for this come-back kid.
Now onto the trauma. I had several of them, so it is hard to choose. But, I still clearly remembering feeling the immense guilt from my sister’s near death accident BECAUSE I had internalize it was my fault. Wow. Try dumping that onto your first grader. Regardless of how my parents handled it -and I think they handled it well- I had reframed the events of that day to identifying myself as the one who was to blame because I did not listen to their instructions about watching her when I crossed the street.
Here are now some ways to how to fight the fear if failure. (Here I want to give credit to Shelly Drymon, who wrote the article Five Steps To Living A Fearless Life as I utilized part of her outline)
1. Look beyond yourself
Sometimes, we get a little too wrapped up in ourselves, thinking ‘Is this all there is?’ and then we run the the litany of excuses of why we could never to this or that, and then we walk away having just convinced ourselves that we are right. Ever been there?
I admit that I was a bit nervous to try something new after I had just lost jobs, which were not good fits. After trying so hard to be successful, then failing, I was a bit reticent to try again. And, my thoughts seemed to be in agreement with those around me, even some family members. While they did not say ‘don’t do THAT!’ there was not a hearty endorsement for my next venture.
After all, I thought, ‘they might be right, I have failed before’. OUCH.
Sometimes we let others sway us to accepting their good intentioned, yet dismal view of our situation, and when we stay in that type of company too long, we will start to accept this as true.
The only way that I got over this obstacle was by realizing that regardless of what others were saying/conveying and whatever I was NOT trying to dwell in, that I was created on purpose and for a purpose by a loving God.
I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future.
I knew there was more to life…but I needed to LOOK BEYOND MY NOSE. If you need some help in looking beyond your nose, let me know!
2. Let Go of the Past
I have seen many people who believe that they could do other things but they are stuck with the ‘ifonlies’.
- I could do this IF ONLY, this would have happened…
- …IF ONLY I was younger, smarter, richer, more successful
Ever been there. I had, until I started to reframe my thinking. For so long I had been using the IF ONLY I was younger. Then, the light bulb went on and I realized that I was never going to get any younger (I know, this may be obvious to most of you, and though I knew this was true, I just was not accepting it…until I touched the light).
Once, I reframed my thinking by way of the new thought: this is the first day of the rest of my life, I moved on!
God’s word declares on this:
If anyone belongs to Christ, there is a new creation. The old things have gone; everything is made new!
Another huge component to letting go of the past is to become more aware of what you are letting go of. Namely, the reality is that you and I have made mistakes, sometimes HUGH, sometimes INTENTIONALLY and this has resulted in consequences that we are NOW bearing. To be aware of this is crucial, but we also need to accept it. Otherwise, that past will find us again. Proof in point: just consider the rebound effect of a divorcee. This person finally thinks they have found the right person, only to discover that underneath all those layers of rightness lay a human soul complete with its own baggage. So if the divorcee never dealt with the baggage from the previous marriage, the divorcee will have no foundation upon which to handle this current situation…except to divorce…again.
So own up to your past. Jesus already went to the Cross for it anyway. (I John 1:9)
3. Move ahead in Forgiveness
We all have made mistakes, but don’t need to let that dampen our life, and we don’t need to use it as an excuse for being less than our best.
Owning up the the fact that we have made mistakes IS NOT PLEASANT. It is akin to jumping in a mudhole and then looking for a hug from someone wearing clean clothes.
Let me tell you that THAT won’t happen. I know. But, you will need to ask yourself, ‘what is more important ‘finally owning up to your need to be forgiven or looking for that hug from somebody who just doesn’t understand what has happened to you?
Now, this is not a time to sugar coat your misdeeds by way of seeking out a group of people who would downplay your need to be forgiven. Rather, this is a time to seek out someone who knows that when God’s word say
Everyone has sinned and fallen short of God’s glorious standard,
Romans 3:23 NCV
…that the ‘everyone’ means YOU. There are no exceptions.
Once you realize and embrace this, those chains of problems that have shackled you for years will begin to be loosened.
Well, there are still bumps in my life, and there are times when I just rub people the wrong way, or that others get in my face. But the big picture is that I have learned and continue to learn how to overcome the fear of failure.
Instead of being ‘driven by fear’, I am motivated to do my best with all that God has given me, and now I see that my failures can and have become anchor points in my life where I have seen hugh deposits of God’s grace.
If you are having problems in how to fight the fear of failure, let me know. If you think that your disability is dis-ABLING you from living life fully, let me know.
I know there is hope. I know. I know.
Blessings on your Journey