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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Barsky

How Does a Fear of Failure Fuel Anxiety?

Although no one aims to fail, some people have a deep-rooted fear of failure. They may do everything within their power to avoid failing. But the truth is, we all fail at something eventually.

Failing is not a mark against success, and I want to help you accept this into your life. Many of us live with a fear of failure and many of us also live with anxiety. But, did you know the two are closely related? In order to examine the link between failure and anxiety more closely, continue on.

Relationship between failure and anxiety

When you think about it, anxiety is really just worrying about what can go wrong in any situation. What can go any more wrong than failing at something? The official name of the phobia of failure is atychiphobia. Generally, developing atychiphobia comes from family history or lived experiences. It drives you to avoid anything that may cause you to fail, whether that is a job interview or attending a party.

Fear of failure fuels your anxiety and anxiety fuels your fear of failure. It is a seemingly endless loop that many people get caught up in. There is no shame if you have fallen into it as well. However, I am here to help you to break this cycle and reclaim the ability to fail once more.

Defining anxiety

At its core, anxiety is simply defined as excessive worrying. Upon further examination, anxiety is much more than that. Anxiety usually does not simply disappear after wishing it away and it may get worse with time when untreated. There are plenty of subsets of anxiety, ranging from panic disorder to specific phobias.

While we may not know the exact reasoning as to why you developed anxiety, if you live with a fear of failure, it is likely due to that. Striving for perfection is not a sustainable way to live. In fact, perfectionism is very closely linked to anxiety, although it is not an anxiety subgroup itself.

Taking a closer look at perfectionism

If you have a fear of failure, you may view perfectionism as the ultimate sign of success. Not allowing any room for fault, however, is no way to live. By outlawing failure in your life as a possibility, and even fearing it, you allow no wiggle room in your life. If you do fail at something–which frankly, is inevitable–it will certainly wreak havoc on your life. Additionally, you may not take certain risks that enrich your life. After all, life is simply a series of failures and successes, each one coloring the image of our lives.

Overcoming fear of failure

The best way to overcome failure is by exposure. You can think about failing all you want, but until you truly become comfortable in the discomfort, you cannot say you have beaten it. You can train yourself to fail successfully to lessen the blow of failure.

Each trial you come across is a lesson to learn: about ourselves, about others, and about the world around us. After all, no part of the journey is complete without failing at least a little. The irony within all of this is that once you have learned to fail, you have truly succeeded.

Anxiety is something that can be treated with work and understanding, and asking for help to achieve this goal is also not a failure. Rather, by admitting your weaknesses, you show strength and security in yourself. I encourage you to reach out to a trained mental health professional if this is something you have been struggling with. Reach out to me today to get started.

For more information on anxiety treatment, check out the link.


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