Have you ever been mentally stuck in the process of making a decision? You had an idea, you visualized the outcome, but once you encountered a potential risk of experiencing failure, you froze? This is common for people who struggle with anxiety. If you have experienced this on one too many occasions, it means that you hold on beliefs against experiencing failure which you consider more important than what you want to accomplish.
For example, let’s say you want to return to school, and pursue a science degree. Further, let’s say you have experienced poor performance in school in the past and you fear another poor performance. This fear of failing in school again causes you to procrastinate with following though on your decision. In this case, your belief that you will fail is more important to you than following through with your plans. Also, not only do you believe that you will fail, you believe that you are unable to handle failure.
In this post, we will discuss three steps on how to overcome your anxiety about failure. The first step will be to explore your last experience with failure.
Explore Your Most Recent Experience With Failure
Using the example, about your fear of returning to school, you will explore the last time your were in school. You will start with looking through the specific circumstances that led to you failing out or dropping out of school. You will explore your thoughts and feelings related to the circumstances. This will involve you, taking your time of going through your grade reports, your curriculum, and taking an inventory of your study habits. In order for you to be successful with this exploration, you will need to be very honest with yourself.
In the process of your exploration, you should permit yourself to re-experience those negative feelings associated with anxiety. During this process you should write down these negative feelings and associate them, as best as possible to the thinking that created them. You should then document what behaviors you engaged in, in response to these feelings. The purpose of this exercise is to document what your triggers for anxiety are. The next step will be for you to identify, your ideal feelings and response to thoughts of failure.
Identify Your Ideal Response to Failure
You will now take the triggers you identified and write down how you would like to respond to them. For example, if your response to a bad grade in a test was to drop the class, you would pick an opposite response to this scenario. This would look like you going over the test material, and re-reading the information you studied for the test. Your ideal response should be rooted in you developing an optimistic perception of the same triggers.
This leads to you identifying positive feelings that naturally would accompany the optimistic thoughts. It is important to note that this process is not something you would truly believe in, initially. It would take a lot of commitment and visualization in order to get you to the next step.
Once you have written down your ideal response to your identified triggers, the next step is to create an action plan.
Create An Action Plan
Using the ideal responses you came up with, you will now create a plan to implement them. So let’s say you have decided that you will excel in school no matter what. This means that even if you receive a bad grade in test, you will use the lessons learned from that test to do better in the next test. Rather than be mentally handicapped by the prospect of failing out of school, you are excited by the prospects of what you will do with your degree.
You will write down your list of identified triggers for being anxious about failure. Your will write down your new optimistic thoughts and feelings in response to these triggers. Lastly, you will write down your specific response to each scenario which previously triggered you. This also includes you writing down the dates and times you will take each action.
It is also important to make time to review your progress with the action plan, and make revisions where necessary.
Ugo Uche is a psychotherapist and expert in anxiety and related disorders. If you would like to learn more, you are welcome to call and book your first appointment or fill out my contact form and click Send.
Ugo also provides Online therapy for those who cannot travel to his office.