I hate failing

Of course, no one wants to fail. It’s hardly a motivating goal in life. And yet we fail, in small and large ways all the time; in our relationships, our jobs, our health, our dreams, our character.

I’ve been tempted, on occasion, to not even try, just in case I make a spectacular fool of myself.  The motivational self-help books I’ve read claim fear is the reason we stop trying.  I can relate to that.  Fear can be paralyzing. In a society based on judgment, we fear taking the wrong step, or saying the wrong thing, we fear being true to ourselves in case it doesn’t measure up to an ideal, set by whom..?  Probably someone I’ve  never met.

But I suspect there is more to it than that. It can be tempting to nurse a sense of failure, to wrap your arms around the past like you would a hurt child. Self-pity can become a form of tender, slightly mis-guided love. For some people it might be the only love they allow themselves.

A good question to ask (Carol Look came up with this one: click here) is  ‘what happened last time I was successful?’   If the last time you succeeded someone was jealous and said something cruel, or perhaps the success came with a heavy burden, like long hours and stressful work conditions, then you may subconsciously hold yourself back, because we tend to believe that the future is always like the past.

So, if our marriage fails we assume we must be hopeless in that area and probably shouldn’t try again.  If our business partner steals from us, we make the assumption that people can’t be trusted. Diets are a classic example of giving up after experiencing repeated failures, especially if there are hidden benefits to staying a certain weight.

Of course, this hurt part of ourselves is well-intentioned; it’s just trying to protect us from painful feelings, or from new failures. But at what cost?  We all fail.  Michael Jordan failed. Abraham Lincoln failed. And yet, they are shining examples of success.

Perhaps anyone that succeeds, failed first.

I hate failing, like everyone else, but I am willing to make a fool of myself, willing to get it wrong, willing to make mistakes, and hopefully I will come out the other side in one piece, with only a few bruises.


Filed under authors, blogging, books, fiction, life, philosophy, Reading, Writing

17 responses to “I hate failing

  1. Lua

    I know how paralyzing the fear of failure can be… That was the only reason why I even practices law at some point; the fear that if I tried to become a published writer, I would fail…
    But then the guilt of not trying to pursue my dreams overcame that fear of failure and I’m glad it did, it’s a terrible thing to be living with… 🙂
    “anyone that succeeds, failed first.” I like this perspective Lisa… Failurer and success are not opposite things, one is just a step we have to take to reach to the other…

  2. Gillian

    I was once told you only fail if you never try. If you try and fail, then you have not failed for you will have learnt something from the experience.
    Take care, Gillian.

    • Yes, I love that idea, Gillian. My fave saying is, “you can not fail, unless you quit.” Learning from the experience of failure means that it was worth while, I think. Thank you. 🙂

  3. A very insightful post! We go through this fear of failure almost on a daily basis, from “Should I make a left now or wait in case I fail to make it safely to that road?” to “Should I post this on so public a forum as a blog?” to “Is this a good investment of my time today?” and so on… Some of them are genuine fears/decisions that probably end up saving our lives, but more of them are along the lines of those that you suggested above.

    Congratulations on having “Milk Fever” published! I really like the premise and I’ll have my eyes peeled for it to make it into the market in the U.S!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    • It’s a delight to have you here!! And thank you for expanding on the list of fears; you are right, it can get down to the constant little worries, about even crossing the road. A great little book is, “Feel the Fear and do it Anyway” by Susan Jeffers. It’s been around for ages, but even the title alone is a good motto to adopt.
      And I loved your site. I will be back. 🙂

      • Thanks for the recommendation — I’ll definitely check it out! I realize lately more and more (maybe part of growing up/older) that self help books do help when you read them with the right mindset. And thanks for your kind words about my blog. I look forward to many more dialogues with you through comments both here and at my blog! 🙂

  4. I hate failing too. It holds me back. Keeps me current on too many TV shows. I like the question you ask about what happened the last time you were successful – that’s an interesting twist on this.

    • Hi Vodka, thanks for visiting. Carol Look asks some really good questions on success and what holds us back from achieving it. Well, worth exploring. 🙂

  5. Fear can control our lives if we are not careful. Have you ever heard of the self-help book “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyways”? I like to keep the title in mind whenever faced with something particularly scary. It’s all about being comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.

    • Hey, Brownpaperbaggirl, we are great minds thinking alike today!! I just mentioned that very book a moment ago. Yes, great book. Great title. And you’re right ‘being comfortable with feeling uncomfortable’ is the way to break through the shackles of fear.

  6. I am a perfectionist. I fear failure so much I find myself fearing to do anything that I was unsure of. But I also love learning new things and as I learn patience, I also learn to take in failure—to appreciate it.It is not to say that I am not scared anymore. I still am. There are some things that I have yet to try and accept that I might fail.
    Great post.

  7. There’s no shame in failing!! Every time you fail, you’ve proof you tried. And trying takes great courage.

    Cheers to every step you take with your arms flailed wildly against the wind. However it turns out, you are courageous.

    – Corra

    from the desk of a historical writer

    • Thanks, Corra. I like the image you’ve created – “Cheers to every step you take with your arms flailed wildly against the wind.” I can so see myself doing that!!

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