Fear of Failure versus The Courage to Fail

"Courage is the power to let go of the familiar" -- Unknown

Fear of Failure is a fundamental crippling fear that we all deal with, an awareness that whatever we do, there's always the niggling possibility that we will fail. This is human fate, you cannot escape it.

It started long before you could utter your first word. You were a (cute) helpless little bundle of cells with human-like features, and you didn't ask too much. Just clean dry underwear, some good cuddling, and your Momma's teat whenever you needed it. Yet the number of times you failed to achieve these simple things were countless. And then there was learning to sit, walk and do all manner of things that you found yourself automatically taking on. You failed, many times over, yet you kept going. You didn't know better.

As the years passed, and you became more human in your understanding, failing started to feel REALLY painful. Personal Development guru Tony Robbins teaches that people are primarily motivated in two ways: moving away from pain, or moving toward pleasure.

My experience and observing people around me has been that it's not as linear as Tony's model might portray it. Regardless, Tony is the best at simplifying abstract constructs for daily application.  If you introspect on Tony's theory deeply, you realize that pain and pleasure are not two ends of a continuum, but simply constructs in the mind that the body internalizes as real. Both exist in momentous interactions, one opposing the other. This is nothing new, it's the curse of duality in human nature, you cannot escape it without escaping your human body. In fact, simply put, moving away from pain IS moving toward pleasure.

The reason the pain/pleasure construct makes sense in determining how to motivate yourself , is because the posturing of your mind will determine what you do or don't do. For example, I have wanted to start blogging for a long time. I wanted to start blogging even when I didn't know it was called blogging. I knew that I wanted to have a website where I shared my opinion. However, for years I have  been crippled by painful thoughts of failure. Although I was always an A student in my English classes, I never studied Advanced writing skills, and I always felt that my ability to communicate in captivating American nuance was lacking. Add to that, my tech skills are pretty much non-existent, so even though I've always had the song in my heart, I dreaded the thought it could end up being  just another mediocre blog about self growth. I have finally decided I cannot NOT write. As you're reading this, forgive the amateurishness. Well... never mind, I already forgave myself :)

See, in my life I have started one too many things, told everyone about my exciting new venture, put myself 100% into it, then it came crashing down on me and left me feeling like a ridiculous loser.

It seems that some people were born with the amazing ability to pick one unexciting and safe thing, stick with it for years and years, and then finally retire and spend the rest of their lives just hanging around Earth waiting to go back to dust. I do have a little envy for them, but not much.

If you're like me, you know that we're of the tribe that is cursed to explore our depths and challenge ourselves to death, literally. In this case, you must embrace the courage to fail. Because really, failure is only in your head. You never really fail. You only feel pain. If you want to call pain failure, be my guest, but pain is something you must feel whether you do or you don't do that which your soul nudges you to. So what's the use in resisting?

So, how exactly do you embrace the courage to fail? To dive into situations that you feel strongly inspired into, and reap tremendous amounts of joy and fulfillment in return, here are a few things you can practice.

  • Love deeply
Most of us, if asked, would say we would appreciate it if someone loved us really really deeply. Well, in life, you get what you give. Most people are so suspicious of their inability to handle a broken heart, that they literally live their life doing everything in their power to avoid loving deeply. I'm not just talking about romantic love, this is also about loving something you do, loving a cause etc. It's about giving of yourself from the bottom of your soul.

Sometimes you find yourself caught in a situation where loving deeply sneaks up on you, for example, when we become a parent. But how many people actually allow themselves to let go and dive into loving their romantic partner, or loving  your work in such a way? I understand unrequited obsession, but when two people mutually move toward each other by letting the universe flow through them, your soul experiences such beauty and pure love that it truly is standing in your godliness. You came into this plane of existence to (evidently) have experiences that bring joy to your heart. Let go and love completely, if you experience pain out of it, that's ok, it's just human. Why pretend you're other than human?

  • Ask the universe to use you
Last night I was watching a documentary featuring Oprah and her last 25 years, and she said something I've heard her say before but it resonated in a different way this time. She said that everyday, she asks the universe to" use her until she is used up". It got me thinking about how many people go through life preserving themselves, as if they are somehow awaiting their turn at some future date to "be" what they came here to be. But really, when all is said and done, all we're awaiting is death. So why embalm yourself so that when the time comes to die you can go well preserved? It isn't as if you'll die before your turn anyway, so while you're awaiting that time, why not ask the universe to use you until you're used up? I know I will from now on.
  • Live in the moment
This means letting go of resistance. Harder to do than it sounds. It does not mean taking foolish risks (actually in truth, all risks are foolish, but I'll play). This also does not mean acting without thinking of consequences, far from it. In fact, if we lived in the moment more, we'd almost certainly do things that are not harmful to ourselves and others around us, because the present moment is pure love.

When we deviate from living in the moment, we are worrying about the future, doubting our core, and regretting the past.  These are stupid things to engage in, let alone the fact that they are energy sucking vampires. No wonder people are so tired all the time. I guarantee you that your level of fulfillment and joy will be directly proportional to your ability to live in this moment.

  • Forgive
This is one of those things that seem really difficult for a lot of people to grasp, yet it is one of the key aspects to human healing. (I'm very excited to write about forgiveness in future articles actually).

In a few words, for true healing to occur, the only person you ever need to forgive is yourself. Re-read that. This is because the only person you can ever truly forgive is yourself. This is because if you can forgive yourself, then having to forgive anybody else becomes a moot point. When you perceive failure, know that forgiving yourself is key to ensuring you do not chip away at your resilience for future ventures.

Forgiving ourselves is also the hardest thing to do. It's easy for us to tell others we have forgiven them because we know they do not know for sure if we have, and we can even kid ourselves that we have forgiven them, but we can never really kid ourselves about forgiving ourselves.

  • Be authentic
The word authentic is a little misunderstood. If you ask, many people are likely to say it means being yourself. But really, what does being yourself mean? We are all ourselves all the time, even when we're pretending to be somebody else, we're still ourselves pretending to be somebody else.

So what does being authentic really mean? It means being true to your highest and best self. The problem with the word authentic is that many people mistake it to mean, being true to your ego. Some of us go through life not recognizing ourselves, or even in battle with ourselves. This is the reason, especially more prevalent in western societies where material wealth abounds, so many people are sick and depressed.

When your soul is out of balance, you are being inauthentic, and you feel like a fraud. You're afraid of being "outed". Only you can know when your soul is out of balance, and no matter how closely others observe you, they cannot know it for you. You know when your soul is balanced when you feel centered, as if the universe is flowing through you effortlessly.

I don't by any means claim that the above suggestions constitute an exhaustive list. As an intelligent being, you are capable of generating endless solutions to your perceived problem. Just remember, there is no failure, just lessons. And whether you actively seek to learn, serve and grow, or you passively sit back and avoid failure, you cannot escape pain. So why not embrace it?

Related: Read about How to Accept Your Abundance