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How to Overcome Your Fear of Failure

When you think of phobias, the first thing that might come to mind are spiders, clowns or the dark. I’d say the most common phobia is the fear of failure, although many of us don’t realize it’s looming shadow within our daily lives. Just now, I realized that while brainstorming article ideas it’s a fear that I have running through my mind. Will my audience enjoy this? Is this too controversial? Ah, this sounds too boring, no- too unprofessional.  

All of these thoughts are backed up by one thing which is that fear. So the next step would be to figure out how exactly to combat an ever present phobia, and be confident within our work. Especially as artists, a fear of not being “good enough” or of our work being criticized an be very limiting. I feel oftentimes that if I didn’t overthink whether my work would be criticized or acclaimed, I’d actually produce more unique and compelling content.

That’s why I dove into my Google search: how to combat the fear of failure.

First off, I think it’s important to understand where these fears come from, as in my case they’re often imaginary pressures I put on myself that stem from anxiety. Being afraid to disappoint your family is a big one, or not succeeding in your career.

According to Forbes, what we often do is get very stressed out over one small task but the reason behind this overwhelming feeling we have is a hidden fear, and often a generalization. I.e, at my restaurant job I get stressed out if I seat someone at the wrong table. But, my internal dialogue is actually saying “if you seat someone wrong, you are going to get fired” and subsequently “if you get fired, how are you going to succeed at any career?” This might seem very exaggerated (which I know, I’m very extra in my fears) or it might resonate with you. Either ways, it’s important to know that neither of these statements are true.

Making one mistake isn’t a reflection on your character, or your skill sets. It happens, and generally, it’s not a big deal. So don’t be so hard on yourself!

Another three things Forbes offers is to ask yourself three questions when faced with failure:


“1)   What did I learn from this situation?

2)   How can I grow as a person from this experience?

3)   What are three positive things about this situation?”


Finding the positive in a negative situation can make you feel better about it, and comfort yourself. Also, realizing that you can learn and move forward from failure will give you motivation to keep going!

Something that helped me a lot in this was realizing that a lot of the internal dialogue I have that relates to self-doubt, and stunts me from creating is this fear of failure. I didn’t realize thoughts like not wanting to “give up when things get hard” stem from this fear. Sometimes, a task is too much to handle and that’s okay. This isn’t failure, it’s an opportunity to get to know yourself and understand how to better balance your time or emotions in a healthy way.


Writer, student of Visual and Critical Studies, artist in various mediums. Representing (and missing) Ecuador from Chicago. Believes in feminism, social activism and taking care of our planet.
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