Are you afraid to fail, succeed or both?
These twin siblings walk together, arm in arm, and it can be really hard to separate them or even tell them apart. When we’re afraid to fail, we usually feel paralyzed and unable to take the necessary steps to achieve success. Succeeding can’t happen without failing; ergo, being afraid to fail often translates into being afraid to succeed.
What’s behind these fears? If we dig deeply enough, sooner or later we come to realize that most of our surface fears stem from three major core fears: Not being good enough; being unworthy; and being afraid of living and getting hurt in the process. If we believe we are unworthy or not good enough, and if we’re afraid to live, we end up attracting people, events, circumstances, etc, that will reinforce those fears… As we believe, so it is.
As everyone else, I’ve had my share of failing. One of the most significant failure experiences happened in 2010. As a consequence of the 2008 economic crisis, among other factors, my business partner and I had to close our graphic design and publishing business. Since I had unwisely connected my personal credit to the business, I had to declare bankruptcy and lost my home in the process. I had to start over in my 40’s, and everything I had believed in or counted on didn’t make sense any longer. I was feeling lost, confused, depressed and very angry. After a period of grieving and a short stretch working for the U.S. Census, I came to the realization that I needed to start reinventing myself.
Since 2002, I had been learning about and experimenting with different forms of holistic practices as a side activity. I really enjoyed that work, so I decided to pursue the integrative arts as a career. The research I conducted about federally accredited holistic healthcare programs led me to SWIHA - Southwest Institute of Healing Arts in Tempe, AZ as the best choice for my purposes. In 2011, when I enrolled in the SWIHA AOS degree program in Holistic Health Care, I had the choice to specialize in nutrition or hypnotherapy; I chose the latter, which led me to a fulfilling career in hypno-coaching. I obtained my AOS degree in Holistic Healthcare in 2013, became certified as a Master Hypnotherapist by the ABH and as a Certified Hypnotherapist by the IMDHA, and founded The Healers Home (formerly The Ragi Center for Self-Awareness), through which I practice Clinical Hypnotherapy, Life Coaching and other holistic modalities. In addition, I teach SWIHA online classes and offer corporate workshop series and presentations about hypnotherapy for the local community. Currently, I’m co-authoring a book with my mentor and former teacher about implementing a volunteer-based guided imagery program at a hospital or health care facility.
As I often share as part of resistance coaching for the classes I teach online, failure paves the road to success. However, there's a big difference between failing and feeling like a failure. As my wise friend Judi L. once shared during an online group meeting, “failure only exists in our minds—mistakes are essential to set us in different directions and on different paths. We can't let fear of making mistakes prevent us from moving forward. When we fail or make the wrong choice, we're meant to learn from those experiences and take the next leap. Everything is pushing us to our higher purpose.”
Learning how to make mistakes and fail with humility, without beating ourselves up, is one of the most courageous, empowering and self-loving choices we can make in life.
Failing is especially good for business. As a matter of fact, the current trend is to fail fast to get that part of the process out of the way and fail mindfully to acquire the necessary knowledge and successfully apply the lessons (please check out some of the awesome videos from The Failure Institute; link under References). Also, sharing our struggles is one of the most effective ways to connect with and engage our audience.
How to Address Fear?
To help you further on your own journey of bringing fear to light, I recommend hypno-coaching to work through resistance and fears. A good script to begin with is Wall of Fear, by Linda Bennett, with focus on the fears of not being good enough and/or being unworthy. A good follow-up script would be Removing the Armor for releasing limitations, also by Linda Bennett.
In addition to hypno-coaching, there are many effective exercises and tools to help deal with fear:
- Asking yourself: “What’s the worst that can happen?” Our wild imaginations can create some far-off doomsday scenarios, making it easier to laugh at and dismiss our fears.
- Visualizing the process of making mistakes and failing as if you were watching an old black-and-white comedy-capers-style silent movie (or another funny, cartoonish story style) is another effective way to make light of our failings… and related fears.
- Self-parenting through soothing, confident-building self-talk. Be the parent that you wish you’d had!
- Repeating positive affirmations and powerful mantras.
- Doing mirror work, which also involves using affirmations and mantras.
- Writing your eulogy: What do you want to be remembered for? What does a meaningful life with no regrets mean to you?
- Testing your fears: Ask yourself powerful questions, or ask a professional therapist work with you.
- Mel Robbins shares effective tips to trick the brain into action (please see two of her videos under References). As per Becca Briley’s fitting comment about the 5 Second Rule brain trick during our live talk, "Instead of RETRACTION, we choose IN-ACTION" (please see link under References).
- Activities like rock climbing or singing karaoke can reveal your fear patterns and help you work through them. For instance, when I started indoor rock-climbing a few months ago , I noticed that, whenever I had a successful climbing session, I’d start making excuses about why I probably wouldn’t be able to do so well next time… I recognized it as a defensive mechanism through which I’d justify myself in advance for possible failures. Once I was aware of this pattern, I would catch myself every time I’d be thinking of such excuses and take action by responsibly challenging myself and learning to be ok with not-so-good climbing days.
- Asking for help and support is an important part of this process, too. No one does it alone! In addition to friends and family support (or if you can’t count on friends and family), look for other sources, such as local and online groups and orgs that support the work you do (or the work you would like to get involved in).
What other tools are you familiar with?
FINAL THOUGHT: Life can be much better if we stop constantly listening to our inner critic and being so hard on ourselves and others. Life already has enough challenges without us having to make it any harder… In short: It would behoove us to just lighten the “freak” up a little.
© Gisele Marasca-Vargas; 03/09/23
"Faith Over Fear" Image by Alex Shute at Unsplash
Image of me rock climbing (taken by my husband)
The Failure Institute - Videos
Mel Robbins: 5 Second Rule
How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over - Mel Robbins
SWIHA Lean Into Your Success Facebook group - March 8, 2023 Live Talk hosted by Becca Briley, with Gisele Marasca-Vargas