Health Articles

Fear of Failure: Are You Always Playing It Safe?

February 23, 2022

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Failure IS an option.

No one is perfect, we all make mistakes on a daily basis.  Whether we say the wrong thing, eat something unhealthy, or sleep in a little too long.

For some, the fear of failure propels them to be extremely cautious, meticulous with detail, or looking at their work over and over before submitting.

Fear of failure falls on a spectrum from productive on one end to disabling on the order.  It can create fuel for success or it can totally paralyze you and keep you playing it safe.

The question remains, when does one reach out for help?

If you have obsessive compulsive disorder, obsessive personality disorder, or generalized anxiety, you understand that these tendencies are way beyond your control and that a combination of medication and therapy are key to recovery.

But what if you just avoid taking risks?  What if you never pursue that business idea because you fear it failing?  What if you sit behind the lines and never ask that person out on a date?

There can be tremendous repercussions when one avoids the threat of danger.  But the real issue lies in one’s appraisal of the threat.

A therapist trained in cognitive behavioural therapy will ask you to identify the thoughts behind the fear, and will help you look for evidence to support or deny the reality of the threat.

Most of the time, we are actually assuming the situation will be more difficult than it really is, or we are underestimating our ability to cope with the situation.  In order to move past these blocks, we really need to sit down and take a good look at reality.  What could go wrong? How can I deal with that possibility?

Wherever you are on the fear of failure spectrum, talking it out with a professional is the best way to prevent the fear from taking hold of your decisions.  

Self-awareness, self-talk, and self-love go a long way in allowing ourselves to lead a fulfilling life.  And remember, the key is progress, not perfection.

Leah Weisberg, RN BScN BC-NC

Leah is a Psychiatric & Mental Health Nurse, Psychotherapist and Founder & CEO at Dynamic Health Collaborative.  She is passionate about providing mental health services that consider one’s mind, body and relationships.  In addition to providing private emotion-focused psychotherapy services, Leah teaches mindfulness classes, leads a team of over a dozen practitioners at her clinic, and collaborates with organizations on creating awareness of emotional and mental health concerns.  She can be reached by emailing [email protected] 

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