Listen to the audio or read below for the transcript. This episode is 13 minutes long.
Happy Tuesday, lovely! I’m Andreea, your host here on The Introvert That Could Podcast. Every episode is a mix of tips on productivity, time management, and how to move forward when you’re stuck, with a sprinkle of motivation and a side of relevant personal stories. I want you to have all the tools and support you need to face the challenges of being an introvert and take action, because without action, there are no results. Let’s dive in!
Welcome to episode 7!
We’re already in the second week of 2020, and I hope you’re still keeping up with your goals or resolutions. For me the new year started with a lot of energy. I’m having so much fun coordinating the personal development book club, a new project I started in January and that will be a monthly membership. You can take part during one month or more, each month with a new book. In January we’re reading Atomic Habits and it’s such a great book, we are all loving it.
The book club is meant to help you apply what you learn from personal development books, cause we all know that sometimes we read, but don’t apply anything, which is a shame because it’s the simplest and cheapest way to get information and change your life. The group is here for support, advice, we share what we each like about what we read, any insights or aha moments and once a week I have a FB live in the private group to answer questions and offer some extra coaching. January is already closed, but you can sign up for February as soon as I announce that the doors are open. So stay tuned!
That being said, let’s go to this week’s topic, which is fear, fear of failure in particular.
I was thinking about this the other day and was trying to understand – where is this coming from? When we are born, we are born with no thoughts, no fears, nothing. Imagine, if babies would have all the fears that we have as adults, we would never learn how to walk. All that falling down would be a disaster. Everything we learn, we learn through experience, so at what point and who told us that failing is so bad? Was it the parents, the educators? I do remember that I had teachers, all throughout school, that had the pleasure of making you feel like you’re nothing, like you’re not good enough and you’re an embarrassment to the class and your family. If you were only called stupid, oh, you were lucky.
I vividly remember a story, that makes it obvious that a low grade meant either punishment or something I was trying to avoid at all costs. I once got a 4, that’s the equivalent of an F, in a math test. It was secondary school, so I still had a full life ahead. It did have an impact on me though, in the way that since then I was never again caught unprepared and eventually got to win competitions and was one of the best at math in my town all the way through high school. I took that failure like a pro, but, because it was my first low grade (not the last though), I didn’t know what my parents will say, so when I got home to tell them, right before going in I started to fake-cry. I figured, if they focus on my heartbreak, maybe I won’t get punished. They were actually ok with the whole thing because they trusted me and my judgement. I eventually told them the tears were fake and to this day, it’s a funny story.
I think somewhere, along the way, my parents definitely did something right, and managed to balance the fear that education was trying to imprint in my brain. But from what I see, society now tries to protect children from failure at all costs, by making everyone a winner. There is no more competition, 10th place gets a medal too. Unfortunately, once they get out into the real world, our sweet, unconditioned children face challenges, heart break, closed doors and rejections that they don’t know how to take. In her commencement speech at Harvard in 2008, J.K Rowling said something that stuck with me ever since I heard it first time,
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”
If you never watched that, search for it and watch it, it’s brilliant.
Every day, Alin and I make plans and talk about the future of our baby, and random questions come up, like “what do we tell the baby about this, or how will we deal with this situation?”. And something that I’m sure I want to do is encourage him or her to fail as much as possible. Try all the things, break all the things, fall down, cry, and I’ll just be there. However, there’s a difference between being brave and being an idiot, so I will give a heads up about touching a hot stove. But all I can do is explain possible consequences and then trust their judgement, and reinforce the belief that even when things don’t work out, they are still worthy and loved 100%.
There are loads of tips out there about dealing with fear, you could watch motivational videos from successful people all day long. So I’m only going to stick to the ones that made an impact on me. Remember, all your fears, including fear of failure, have 2 basic fears at the core: the fear of not being good enough and the fear of not being loved.
1. It’s all just one big illusion
Every day of your life, you are delusional, we all are. We live like we’re never going to die. Of course, we know we are all going to die, but we choose to ignore this, and that’s partly a good thing. It would be excruciating to live in fear that you might be gone any second. But on the other hand, it covers the fact that no matter how you live, it’s still going to end and in that moment it won’t make any difference how safe or exciting life was. Which means you’re free to choose. There was some research done on what are the most common regrets people share on their deathbeds. Here are the top 10:
I wish I lived for myself more
I wish I didn’t work so hard
I wish I didn’t hold back my feelings
I wish I stayed in touch
I wish I was happier
I wish I cared less of what others think
I wish I didn’t worry so much
I wish I took better care of myself
I wish I didn’t take life for granted
I wish I lived in the now
Unfortunately many people will experience these regrets and not even be aware that something could be better while they go through life in a safe, template based way. Did any of these sentences resonate with you in this moment? If yes, maybe it’s time to take a moment and evaluate where you’re going.
2. What’s the worst that can happen?
This is the question that helps me make risky decisions. But you fully take advantage of it once you go down the rabbit hole all the way.
When I quit my job, the main concern was of course money. Let me walk you through my train of thought.
- What’s the worst that can happen?
- First, I may need a long time to start making enough to cover all the expenses and our savings will run out.
- Then what’s the worst that can happen?
- Still not making enough and having to borrow money from a bank or from family.
- Then what? Not be able to pay my debt back and I’ll have to sell the boat.
- And then what? Money running out again and having to move back and live with my mom.
- And then what? Maybe mom will eventually get rid of me and I’ll be homeless, with no support.
So that was the end of my rabbit hole and that worst case scenario would be a few years down the line and very unlikely. I trust that in whatever situation I’m in, I’ll figure it out.
But once you do this exercise, you might uncover some beliefs or fears you didn’t know you had. For example, I had the belief that debt is bad and asking for help from your parents after a certain age is a failure in itself. But my worst case scenario? Homeless and unloved. What’s funny is that at no point during the journey I considered going back to work. I’d rather be homeless.
Once you get all the way to the bottom, think about the best case scenario. For me, making money doing things I love, working when and how much I want, creating a dream life for myself and our growing family.
Then consider your future if nothing changes. It’s probably the scenario that sits in the middle. And you have to decide if the possibility of something great excites you more than the unlikely worst case scenario scares you. For me, it was a no brainer. I went for it and I trust that I’ll figure it out. You can figure it out!
3. Reframe failure
We’re afraid of failure because we make it mean something about us. We avoid doing things because we don’t want to feel embarrassed, not good enough, unloved, stupid, rejected, and so on. The worst that can happen is a feeling. A feeling! Can’t you handle a feeling? And you know what’s amazing? The feeling comes from your thoughts and you can change them. The result of your actions, the circumstance, is always neutral. It’s how you think about the circumstance that makes you feel a certain way. So reframe it!
For me, failing means nothing about me. Failing means that the thing I tried didn’t work and I have to try something else. It’s ok, I’m willing to.
For me, a failure means that I’m one more step closer to success.
That I learned one more lesson and I’m slowly becoming the person I need to be to achieve success.
Success is inevitable if you don’t let failure stop you.
In any moment, you might be just one more failure away from success, so you‘d better fail again and fast.
4. Reframe fear
What if fear is not negative? What if it’s actually excitement? What if it’s a little monkey jumping up and down because you’re about to do something amazing and it’s cheering for you? Give it a name if you want and accept that it might always be there, but that’s ok. Of course you’re a bit nervous, you’re about to do something very brave. Feel the fear but do it anyway, right?
This is all I have for you today. I’ll leave you some links in the show notes, but I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any particular fears that you’d like to work on? Have a great rest of your week, bye!
This was it for this episode, but if you want to continue the conversation, I’d love to hear from you! Comment here or find me on Facebook and Instagram. But the best thing you can do is sign up for the Life Lesson Letter, the weekly email I send out every Thursday with new content and insider-only freebies and details. Sign up now and you’ll get instant access to all available goodies, including the latest PDF “From overwhelm to taking action: 6 steps to find more time in your day, declutter your to-do list and get things done“. Just go to coachmeamazing.com/lifelessonletter
Thanks so much for being here and I’ll catch you on the next one! Have an amazing day