How to Overcome the Fear of Failure

by Blair Evan Ball on September 6, 2013

Fear of FailureHave you had the feeling of “I can’t” when you attempt to do something new?

Did this feeling of “I can’t” hold you back from accomplishing your goals and dreams? Is it limiting you today?

If so, you are not alone. All things are habits and habits can be replaced, that’s the good news.

In today’s fast paced changing world, is it important for you to be prepared to take on new things that can positively impact you and your business? In dealing with Social Media and it’s implications for individuals and businesses, I see fear that grips many people. This fear holds them back in a time where not taking action, puts them at risk of falling further behind each day. My concern…the longer they wait will they be able to catch up?


This fear has caused more dreams to go down in flames than any other fear.

This feeling of “I can’t” begins the development of the fear of failure. If you are discouraged or punished too often as a child, very early in life you will become fearful of trying new things. This fear will then carry over into later childhood, adolescence and adult life. Thereafter, whenever you think of doing something new or different, something that entails risk or uncertainty, your first reaction will be “I can’t!” As soon as you say the words “I can’t” to yourself, you will begin immediately to think of all the reasons why such a thing is not possible for you.

Before you even try something new, you will talk yourself out of it.

Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich, once asked an audience, “What is the average number of times that a person tries to achieve a new goal before they give up?” After several guesses from the audience, he gave the answer. “Less than one.”

The point he made was that most people give up before they try the first time. They give up without even trying once. Even though they want to improve their lives, increase their incomes, and accomplish more than they are today, as soon as the new goal pops into their mind, they automatically respond with the words “I can’t!” And begin thinking of all the reasons why it is not possible for them.

  • The most important habit you can develop for great happiness and success is the habit of repeating to yourself and believing, “I can do anything I put my mind to!”

The most powerful words that you can repeat, over and over, to neutralize and overcome the fear of failure, are the words, “I can do it! I can do it!”

The kindest words that a parent can tell his or her child, in addition to the words “I love you,” are the words “You can do anything that you set your mind to.” It is amazing how many people’s lives have been dramatically affected by the influence of a single person, a parent, relative or friend, who simply told them, over and over again, “You can do it.”

What Others Might Say

The second fear that we learn early in life, which then affects us for the rest of our lives, is the fear of rejection, or criticism. We are all sensitive to the opinions of others, especially to the opinions and reactions of our parents when we are growing up.  At an early age, you begin to conform your behaviors to earn the approval, and avoid the disapproval, of your parents.

The Approval of Others

As you grow older, you become increasingly sensitive to the approval or disapproval of others, starting with members of your family, and then your friends and associates.

Teenagers especially become extremely sensitive to whether or not they are liked or disliked by their peers. Instead of being fearless and spontaneous, completely open, honest and expressive, they begin to shape their behaviors and conform to whatever they feel their peers will approve of at the moment.

This feeling generates what is called the “compulsive negative habit pattern,” which is characterized by the words “I have to!” As an adult, the child who was subjected to disapproval and destructive criticism becomes hypersensitive to the attitudes and opinions of others. They are continually saying, “I have to do this or “I have to do that.” When the fear of rejection becomes extreme, the individual becomes so hypersensitive to the opinions of others that he or she cannot make a decision until he or she is absolutely convinced that everyone in the world around them will approve and support the decision.

The Antidote to All Your Fears

One of the greatest discoveries in the development of the peak performance personality is that your fears and your level of self-esteem have an inverse or opposite relationship. In other words, the more you like yourself, the less you fear failure and rejection. The higher your levels of self-esteem, the lower are the fears and doubts that hold most people back. The more you like and value yourself, the more willing you are to take risks and to endure the inevitable setbacks, obstacles and temporary failures that will occur. The more you like yourself, the less concerned you are with the approval or disapproval of other people. You go your own way.

  • The very fastest way to build your self-esteem and self-confidence, and to neutralize the fears that may be holding you back, is to repeat continually the words “I like myself!”

Whenever you feel doubtful or uneasy, begin repeating these words to yourself, “I like myself! I like myself! I like myself!”

I Like Myself

The more you feed your mind with positive words, pictures, and thoughts, the more positive, confident, optimistic and unafraid you become.

  • The more you like yourself, the better you do at anything you attempt.
  • The more you like yourself, the less you fear failure and rejection.
  • The more you like yourself, the less you worry about short-term setbacks and obstacles.
  • The more you like yourself, the greater courage and resilience you will have to face the inevitable ups and downs of life.

And the more you like yourself, the more it is that you will persist until you succeed. Self-esteem is everything. Not Ego.

Fulfill Your Complete Potential

There are four more mental laws that you need to know and work with in order to fulfill your complete potential.

1. The first of these is the Law of Habit. This law says that, “Whatever you do repeatedly eventually becomes a new habit.” In its simplest terms, this means that you can develop any habit of thought or action that you desire, if you will just repeat it often enough and long enough.

2. The second law that you must know and use is the Law of Emotion. This law says that, “Every action that you take is stimulated by an emotion of some kind, either positive or negative.”

You can think of emotions the way you would think of a campfire. In order for the campfire to continue burning, you must continue to put wood on the fire. If you stop putting fuel on the fire for any period of time, the fire will eventually go out.

Focus on What You Want

3. This brings us to the Law of Concentration. This law says that, “Whatever you dwell upon, grows and expands in your life.”

In other words, whatever you think about most of the time, increases. More and more of your emotions and mental energies become focused and concentrated on what you are dwelling upon. The more you think about your goals and how to accomplish them, the faster you will move toward them.

4. The final law in this series is the Law of Subconscious activity. This law says that, “Your subconscious mind accepts any thought, plan or goal created by the conscious mind, and then organizes your thoughts and behaviors to bring that goal into reality.”

Whatever thoughts or goals you repeat over and over again in your conscious mind are eventually accepted by your subconscious mind. Your subconscious mind then goes to work, 24 hours a day, to coordinate your thoughts, words and actions to bring those goals into your life.

One Thought At A Time

Your conscious mind can only hold one thought at a time, either positive or negative. You may be capable of thinking hundreds of thoughts in a row, but you can only think of one thought at a time. And you are always free to choose that thought.

An essential success habit is the habit of keeping your mind focused clearly on the person you want to be, the goals you want to achieve, and the steps that you will have to take to achieve those goals.

Action Exercises:

1. Identify the primary causes for the effects in your life. Why are you where you are and what could you do differently going forward to get different results?

2. On a scale of 1-10, how much do you feel that you are in control of your life? What could you do to increase your feelings of control?

3. What do you think about most of the time? What should you focus and concentrate on to improve your life?

4. What are the values, qualities and attributes of other people that you most admire? What actions could you take to incorporate those values into your personality?

5. How much do you like yourself? What are the experiences that give you your greatest feelings of self-esteem, and how could you create more of them?

6. What are your greatest fears? How would you behave differently if you had no fears at all?

7. What can you do, starting today, to feed your mind with more of the thoughts, words, people and pictures that are more consistent with the very best person you could be, and the most important goals you want to achieve?

“Man becomes a slave to his constantly repeated acts. What he at first chooses, at last compels.”

– Orison Swett Marden



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  Blair Evan Ball

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