3 Comments to
Why We All Have Fear of Failure

The comments below begin with the oldest comments first. (If there's more than one page, click on the last comments page to jump to the most recent comments.) Jump to reply form.

  1. Fear of Failure is not my dragon lying in wait; Fear of Success is. Failure is an old familiar, learned in family relationships and perfected in romantic endeavors.
    My fear of success came after I started “dreaming up ” business endeavors, and finding they were going to be successful. This is not a brag; it’s a hideous situation. I’ve had to work hard to turn these successes into failures, usually by ruining the business relationship and alienating my sponsors. Just to make things feel normal.
    I’d welcome a bookend post on Fear of Success and I wonder how many other guilty moles there are out there besides me.

  2. i complete feel like this was for me.
    For so many years i have had dreams that i let die because i feared to even try in case i used up what i had and i lost everything. But till present day i still struggle with that.
    As soon as i have some money on me, i start shaking with fear of investing it and as soon as i have eaten all of it, i then start regretting and seeing all that i could have done with it.
    For sure i want to break free from this because i feel stuck and frustrated at the same time with my life. i feel like i never get even one thing correct in life. Could this be a fear of failure as said here?

  3. I disagree with this blog. Some people have a fear of failure, maybe even many people, but not all of us do. I see I am not the first reply to mention “fear of success”. Unlike Upsie Daisy however, I do not consider my fear of success to stem from being used to failure so much as from realising from a young age that being good at things all too often resulted in negative consequences, not least for other people (possibly the same failure-fearing people that this blog refers to!)
    The author of the blog evidently had completely different school experience from myself. In his school, children were apparently praised for getting things right first time. In my school, understanding things without the need for explanation seemed to make people feel very uncomfortable!

    I answered yes to all three questions but the author fails to realize that there can be more than one reason for answering this way.
    I put things off because I worry about making people feel uncomfortable if I do too well, or sometimes, because I worry that people will befriend me in an attempt to “get ahead” rather than because they actually care about me, among other reasons, also relating to fear of success.

    I avoid situations where I have to try something new in front of people because, regardless of whether or not I get it right first time around, I know that I tend to learn very quickly. In other words, I, as a novice, can all too easily overtake someone who may have taken years to get to where they are! This might upset them. I can always hide my abilities (my usual tactic) but this is also frustrating, particularly when the expert starts trying to “help” me! If I then show that I can figure it out myself, this upsets the “expert”! (I am, however, perfectly comfortable trying out things that I know I can’t possibly be better at than the other competitors or spectators!)If it’s a competition between me and someone who’s worked hard to master something, I will let them win or be racked with guilt and deliberately fail at something else just to make them feel better!

    I often put things off that I know will improve my life. Why? Because in my experience, people get upset when I am naturally better at things than they are. Especially if I barely had to try.

    One friend used to get upset because she was always dieting and exercising but was still (in her eyes) fat. She would cry on my shoulder about how I can eat so much but be so thin. I’ve often had to let people believe that I’m anorexic just to make them feel better about themselves. People like to think I workout all the time and I let them think it, because otherwise, they cry.

    Another friend would get upset because she kept failing her school subjects in spite of all her hard work and then comment on how I don’t even have to try. (It was true but, frankly, I had my own problems. How well I did at school was essentially irrelevant to me. I had more important things to worry about relating to global problems.)

    One year I thought I’d like to enter the sports day. As I was gearing up for the high jump that I had been pretty good at on my first few attempts that I had recently done in PE. I was doing fine and enjoying it up until I noticed the desperate look on the face of another girl who, in my experience, seemed to base her entire life value on her “achievements”. I messed up my next jump. It was one I could easily have done but I was too concerned for the well being of the failure-fearing girl to do well myself. Whether I could have beaten her or not I’ll never know! I doubt I would have won anyway as there were some very sporty girls there, but for me, the fun was trying my best and seeing how far I could go. My philosophy in life is: If I win, I win; If I don’t, I don’t. At the end of the day I don’t really care but I like to feel that I can try things out without being made to feel guilty if I happen to be good at something.

    I also deliberately sabotaged one of my maths tests and refrained from joining the gymnastics team because this particular girl always seemed so incredibly uncomfortable whenever I was around.

    In one class, I kept quiet for the usual reasons. My school report said that I needed to develop my confidence. The teacher wanted me to put my hand up any time I thought I might know the answer. She said that making mistakes is part of learning and I shouldn’t be afraid to get things wrong. I did as she said and put my hand up every time she asked a question. The first time, she got me to answer and said “Well done!” with a big smile. The second time, she asked someone else. When they got it wrong, she asked me. I got it right. She said “good” with a slightly smaller smile. The third time, a couple of people answered wrongly. I carried on holding my hand up. She said “anyone?” looking around the class, clearly avoiding me. She answered it herself. I was never called on to answer ever again, in spite of understanding everything she was teaching before she even taught it.

    In other classes, I used to turn jotter pages back and erase the last answers on the page when a teacher went past to avoid making them feel uncomfortable with the fact that I was persistently much further ahead than everyone else, rarely made mistakes and generally understood far more than the grade required. Was this because I was scared I would get something wrong? Of course not.

    In conclusion, we do not all have a fear of failure! I am not, as a rule, afraid of failure; Only of the consequences of “success” (if you can call being naturally different and thus totally isolated from other people successful…) People with a fear of failure are the bane of my life! It’s thanks to them that I feel I have to hold myself back!

    Thankfully, not everyone is so insecure as the people you describe in your article and I have largely managed to break away from people like that. I prefer to mix with people who do NOT base their self-judgment on how their weight/talent/intellect/test results compare in some sort sort of all-important imaginary league table!



Join the Conversation!

We invite you to share your thoughts and tell us what you think in this public forum. Before posting, please read our blog moderation guidelines. A first name or pseudonym is required and will be displayed with your comment. Your email address is also required, but will be kept private. (Please note that we use gravatars here, which are tied to your email address.) A website/blog/twitter address is optional.

Post a Comment: