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Fear of failure: when anticipating defeat immobilizes us

Fear of failure: when anticipating defeat immobilizes us

June 25, 2022

Nobody doubts that life is full of setbacks and moments of discomfort or pain, but it is also true that a great part of our ills is made by our own imagination. The fear of failing is a perfect example of this .

And is that, although we tend to believe that we are fundamentally rational beings and that we act according to logic when we make transcendental decisions that will affect us a lot, the truth is that it is not so; the simple fact of thinking a lot about failure can act as a trap that limit our freedom .

The fear of failing as a mental trap

A lot of what we do is born out of fear of failing. Acting in a certain way and performing actions in a certain way does not mean maintaining a proactive attitude; Although it sounds strange, there are things that we do just because they allow us to remain in a passive state, that is, within our comfort zone.


Thus, we will be able to draw complicated plans and to make a lot of effort simply to create a convincing excuse (facing others) that allows us not to have to start that project what excites us

The fear of failing is something that paralyzes us but, at the same time, makes us willing to spend time and effort in not leaving the comfort zone and not having to face the risk of failing.

The paralysis of the analysis

The curious thing about the fear of failing is that it can be disguised in many different ways. For example, on certain occasions it may take the form of analysis paralysis. This is a concept used to refer to the moments in which the fact of having one or several decisions causes us to remain without choosing without any of the available options.


The paralysis of the analysis can be understood as a failure in rational decision making when none of the options is good enough, but it can also be fear of failure, disguised as rationality. Those moments of thought in a loop in which the decisions are taken sparingly and when they do disappear to return us to the starting point is one of the most frustrating experiences that exist, but they also have another negative consequence: they keep us in place without being able to move, with all the consequences that that entails.

Fight the fear of failing

Theoretically, the fear of failing is not bad in itself, because it is simply an unpleasant feeling based on rational ideas: what it would mean to fail in our objectives can not be as positive as what it would imply to be successful, and if this were the case it would mean that the project or the decision means little to us.


However, in practice, when we stop to think about the fear of failing, it is usually because this has become a problem, an obstacle.

Y How to prevent the fear of failure from harming us? For this you can follow these guidelines.

1. Write down a decision tree

Write on a sheet of paper the possibilities that extend before you, with its different ramifications in which the possible consequences of each of them are represented. Next to each of the options, write down the probability that you think they have to occur, assuming that you have taken all the previous decisions that lead to that point. To make this estimate as reasonable as possible, You can ask for a second opinion .

Then, write down next to each possible scenario the degree to which that option would like or displease you. Combining these two types of information for each of the options, you can make another "decision tree" in which the branches are arranged from left to right according to the possibilities of occurrence , and you can color each one with a palette of colors that go from red to green and that express the degree to which you would like everything to happen.

This colored decision tree can help you a lot when it comes to making rational decision making overlap with the fear of failure.

2. Set short-term goals

Once you have clear which is the option that is rationally most appropriate for you and that everything that separates you from it is simple fear of failure, set goals in the short term is the ideal way to commit to that decision. Also, this will make it harder to fall into the "I'll do it tomorrow", which may be a form of fear of failure camouflaged .

3. Commit yourself to do it before others

Another way to make the fear of failure fail you is to commit to do what you fear before others. In this way, you can use the logic of fear to fail in your own, since you start to fear the possibility of not fulfilling your word.

In a way, to combat this state of psychological paralysis It is good to find ways to self-force yourself to do the right thing , and this option is effective (except in the case of pathological addictions, in which case it is essential to go to a specialist).


Cloak and Dagger | Critical Role RPG Show Episode 68 (June 2022).


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