Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A few thoughts on fear... and other stuff.

Monday the 3rd I did some research and made a goal to start sleeping at least 7 hours a night.  I have successfully followed through on that goal- and go figure- I have more energy. YAY!! However- I still only have 24 hours in my day and about 36 hours a day to do it all.  So I need to come up with a system to get everything (or at least almost everything) done in a day that I need to.

I like making plans, goals and systems to achieve them.  I'm great at it in fact.  I'm less good at actually following through with anything.  Not that I'm an epic give-uper (not a real term I know) more like I'm a get-overwhelmed-and-then-not-starter.  I find I let fear control me more often than not.  Fear of failure specifically.  I share this thought a lot I think- bear with me as I share it again.

Fear is binding.  More so than any other emotion.  I can only speak from my own experience- but I imagine that many others struggle with the same issue that I do.  Fear comes in many different forms- but ultimately it all boils down to that basic emotion- and it seems every phrase associated with fear starts with 'what if'.

What if I mispronounce the words I'm learning in a new language?
What if I am unable to perform that solo properly?
What if I stumble in front of the entire theater?
What if my voice catches and a sing a sour note?
What if I cry uncontrollably in front of a crowd I am to speak to?
What if I draw that line wrong?
What if I never get any better?

What if? What if? What if? What if? What if? What if? What if? What if?

These are all real thoughts I've had.  Crippling real thoughts.  They may seem trivial or silly written down- but thoughts like these and many others have plagued me for years.  Not to say that I've spent my entire life boxed up not doing anything.

I pronounced the words wrong- they were nicely corrected.
I practiced the solo and was able to perform without anyone noticing any glaring errors.
I not only stumbled but did a full somersault during a dance once and got up and kept going.
My voice has caught while singing- and I continued on.
I've cried in front of people more times than I can count.
I draw badly all the time- but I'm working to get better.

The last 'What if' is the hardest of all.  It is what everything else boils down to, and could be phrased a completely with a slight word change to really illustrate the true question.

'What if I fail?'

What if?

The fact of that matter is simple:

I will fail.

So will you.

However.  I can keep going.

So can you.

The realness of these statements is something that we often ignore and forget.  The world we are in right now will show us in shining colors all of the success of everyone around us- without showing us their insecurities and their own failings.  I do not think that this is necessarily a a bad thing.  It is natural to want to put your best self out there for everyone to see.  You should.  You should also keep in mind that everyone else is doing the same.

I learned while writing this that there is a term for the fear of failure: Atychiphobia.  If you read the wiki entry it sounds pretty extreme.  I'm not suggesting that I'm to that level of extremeness, I just found it interesting that it had a name.  I'm far more interested in this article that discusses fear of failure in more realistic terms.

Ten Signs you Might have Fear of Failure

Now as the article points out it is not an official diagnosis of anything- but the 10 points it brings up are pretty interesting to me.  I'm pasting them below- but do check out the full article- it is worth reading.

1. Failing makes you worry about what other people think about you.
2. Failing makes you worry about your ability to pursue the future you desire.
3. Failing makes you worry that people will lose interest in you.
4. Failing makes you worry about how smart or capable you are.
5. Failing makes you worry about disappointing people whose opinion you value.
6. You tend to tell people beforehand that you don’t expect to succeed in order to lower their expectations.
7. Once you fail at something you have trouble imagining what you could have done differently to succeed.
8. You often get last minute headaches, stomachaches, or other physical symptoms that prevent you from completing your preparation.
9. You often get distracted by tasks that prevent you from completing your preparation that in hindsight were not as urgent as they seemed at the time.
10. You tend to procrastinate and ‘run out of time’ to complete you preparation adequately

Sadly- just about all of those describe me.  Which brings me back to my original paragraph before starting in on this little tangent.  I'm great at putting together plans and systems.  Often I will spend so much time working on the plan I never get to the goal itself.  SO what can I do about it? How can I fix this behavior.  Obviously I have accomplished things in my life- and I hope to be able to accomplish a lot more.  So I looked up some ways to move past these mental barricades- 'cause honestly- I've been letting fear get the better of me in recent years.

Stealing from the article again- I love the two things that Dr Winch shares on how to deal with fear.

1- Own the fear.
          he goes on to explain doing this can help you not sabotage yourself inwardly (read the whole thing he says a lot more than just that)
2- Focus on aspects in your control
          clearly- there are many things that you cannot control (usually other people) but you can control how you react and prepare for situations.

the next few are from me- things that I have done and do to get myself to try things. (They also tend to fall into the two categories that Dr Winch suggested)

3- Never say 'I cannot'
          I've learned the moment I say this I've given up control and no longer am willing to try.  If I keep thinking along the lines of 'I can' or 'I will' I tend to work at something.  (Also- it drives me crazy when people just sit down and say they cannot do something... of course they cannot you're just sitting there!)

4- know that failure is a way of learning
          OR- Be Friends With Failure <- this little graphic novel is amazing to me.  It sums up exactly how everyone feels at one point or another in their career.  (well almost everyone- I do have some friends that ooze confidence and seem to think the world owes them everything.  I think they either don't feel fear or have mastered the art of controlling it)

5- Just Do It!
          Nike kinda had a point.

6- Make goals.
          I've stated a few times that I like making goals- it's the achieving them that is hard.  I've read the best thing to do is set your goals, then break them down into smaller goals and achieve them one at a time. This is something I'll probably research farther, maybe another blog post later on?

7- Be nice to yourself
          Honestly- most people don't judge you anyway- but I know a lot of people (including myself) feel that way often.  However- you can control how you judge you.  And you have to live with you.  So be nice to yourself.  If you fail- and you will- find things to learn but more importantly don't tear yourself down.  'Hey self; yea that sketch isn't the best- but it isn't your last- lets keep going!' Or whatever self talk is most effective for you.

8- Practice and prepare (most applicable to performances)

9- Follow through with plans
          even if you have to drag yourself kicking and screaming

10- Don't Give Up
          that is the only time you can actually fail.

So most of these are restating themselves- that is ok- humans learn through repetition.  I have to repeat things to myself all the time.

I don't have a great conclusion to my ramblings (largely because I didn't get to writing this until pretty late and my mind is now having a hard time focusing) So I'm off to bed.

The gist is this- work for your dreams, make plans- but don't spend to much time making them, and then follow through and be the best you!


Other interesting articles:
Overcoming Fear of Failure


  1. I really like what you have written and the articles you resourced. I have been facing my own fears and a lot of this really hit home! I like how you describe fear as crippling. It so is! I feel so frozen sometimes, unable to move. My biggest challenge I feel I'm working on right now is loving myself. I am doing my best to remember my Heavenly Father loves himself and since I was made to be like my Father, I, too, should love myself. or something like that. : ) I guess that's the long way to say, I totally understand what you are saying! Own that fear!
    I love the Anime pictures! Especially, the recently posted Sophie! Love Howls Moving Castle!

  2. Thank You! And also thanks for commenting- it is nice to know when something I've written actually is applicable to more than just myself.