Fear of Failure (Part 1)

We as human tend to hate failure.  Many of my clients, male and female, share that this is one of there biggest fears.  Whether I work with a 18 year old  male student, 25 year old professional female, or 42 year old married male they each have similar fears.  The fear of failure is often stated as the “What If’s”.  What if this happens or what if that happens etc.  In fact, many Americans fear failure, millions, at one time or another.

So, why do we fear failure?  After talking to hundreds of clients, friends, and family members, I believe that it is a combination of things. It may have started out with something a friend or family member said about losing and how bad this is. In some cases this was traumatic for you, such as when you lost “the big game”.   It also is hard to not compare with others that appear to be doing well, when you are not where you want to be. To narrow it down, I would say that our society doesn’t always look favorably on failing, and in many case it discourages us from doing this.  However; many great people have failed.

  • Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times
  • I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. Michael Jordan.
  • In a keynote address at the Enterprising Britain Conference back in 2004, Bill Gates is quoted as saying, “…failure is a great teacher.” Everyone fails, but successful people react differently to failure than unsuccessful people. Successful people don’t like to fail, but they are not devastated or paralyzed by failure. They use failure as a tool to learn what they did wrong.

Perhaps we need to embrace failure, not purposely trying to fail, but seeing it part of the journey as we learn to enjoy the good and difficult times of life.  If failure is getting you down, and affecting many parts of your life. Please know that it takes courage to speak to a professional about how you can overcome this.


David Sanchez, LPC, LCAS, CSAT-Candidate, EMDR Therapist