Why we are afraid of mistakes and how you can overcome them
Everyone probably knows it but just to make you think for a bit. What do you think is the biggest mistake you can make?
It’s the fear of making mistakes or failure and therefore not even trying.
Elbert Hubbard once said: “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually fear you will make one.”
Therefore, you should try to overcome your fears and have the courage to follow your wishes and dreams.
If you are afraid of mistakes, it will have an extremely negative impact on your life and, in the worst case, lead to a complete inability to act.
If you’re constantly afraid of doing something wrong, you won’t dare to tackle essential things. It is also unlikely that you dare to follow your dreams.
We want to make everything perfect, but that is not possible. In this article, you will learn why and how you can overcome the fear of making mistakes.
In this article, you will learn:
- How the fear of mistakes arises
- How to overcome the fear of mistakes
- What successful people do differently
- How best to deal with it if you make a mistake
- Which is really a mistake
- How to make as few mistakes as possible
How the fear of mistakes affects your life
Outbreaks of sweat, loss of appetite, sleepless nights, blackouts in important situations and even shortness of breath – fear of mistakes can affect your entire life. If your fear of failure is particularly great, you may be so limited that it completely controls your life. Some people try to cope with this issue with alcohol or drugs, but this can only do the opposite. Sometimes the permanent fear even leads to burnout and depression.
Fears of failure can occur in very different and everyday situations. Here are a few examples:
- New tasks in the job
- Presentations in front of a small or large audience
- Addressing an attractive woman/man
- Job interviews
- Travel around the world
- Register in a sports club
The fear of failure does not only affect your career path. For example, many people have a dream of travelling around the world. The fear of being homesick or not being able to cope with the bureaucratic hassle of travelling around the world often means that the trip around the world remains a dream forever.
Others would like to do something about their fitness or learn a new sport. The fear of embarrassing them prevents them from registering in a sports club.
There are probably more people who don’t try than people who fail. The most successful people in the world failed several times:
Where does the fear of mistakes come from?
Making mistakes is actually nothing bad, on the contrary: it gives you the opportunity to learn something to do better next time. It brings life experience and in a way make you a bit smarter.
You probably know the situation of being portrayed as a failure after you failed on a project. But often your fellow human beings only want to distract from their own mistakes. The issue is handled differently in North America where mistakes are seen as a learning process.
A mistake is to be considered as a step towards success.
There are different reasons why some suffer more and others less from fear of failure.
Formative events in childhood, such as a lack of praise on the part of the parents or feelings of inferiority triggered by a lack of love and affection are not very beneficial for one’s self-confidence.
But of course, the fear can only arise or increase in later phases of life. The reasons then mostly lie in the fear of embarrassing the social environment or being viewed as a failure.
Of course, people also have demands on themselves, but for many, it is easier to fail to do so than to mock others. As a result, fear of failure is often based on not meeting other people’s expectations or not being recognized in society.
I remember one day on a sunny afternoon, I sat on the balcony and watched the following scene:
An approximately two-year-old boy rode his bike on their driveway. Suddenly he lost his balance and fell to the ground.
“Oh, the poor man is about to cry,” I said to myself.
To my surprise, however, he was immediately on his feet, straightening his bike and continuing to use it as if nothing had happened.
You cannot imagine how I celebrated the little one …
A young child is not afraid to make mistakes. If it were, we would still be crawling today. If a mistake happens to a small child – like falling off the bike in the above case – he learned from it and continued immediately.
Young children are unable to assess the consequences of their actions. They try things out with the best of intentions. This will inevitably lead to results that the legal guardians will not like.
If guardians are overly responsive to these things, children will learn that it can end badly if they try new things and don’t like the end result of their environment.
Besides, our school system is about avoiding mistakes. The legal guardians will likely give children more praise for an A than if they come home with a C or D.
As a result, the child may become convinced that he is less lovable if he makes mistakes. In the future, such a conviction will, of
course, lead to mistakes being avoided.
This gradually strengthens the idea that mistakes are bad. For this reason, many people want to do everything correctly. Having made a mistake is often equated to failure. This creates a fear of mistakes.
But thoughts are not reality! However, if we believe our thoughts, then they create our reality.
(You can find out why this is the case in this article: Power of Thoughts )
Fears arise from thoughts. These thoughts are often stored deep in the subconscious as to beliefs. As soon as you become aware of this thought, they lose their power over you.
How to overcome the fear of making mistakes
Fear of mistakes can destroy dreams and block many opportunities. People often think that they are the only ones suffering from this fear. At the same time, they admire people who have the courage to make their dreams come true.
But what they do not consider: these people are also nervous in certain situations, but they have learned to deal with their fear. Whenever they try something new, they know that mistakes cannot be avoided.
This is not a bad thing, as mistakes are a natural part of the learning process.
The success they have achieved has shown them that this is the right way.
Life is learning, and afterward, we are always smarter.
To overcome the fear of mistakes, change your attitude towards mistakes:
“To escape fear, you have to go through it, not around it.” Richie Norton
Everything you do is done with good intentions. You would never intentionally go wrong. If you had known better, you would have done better. It’s not wrong to make a mistake as long as you learn from it.
I recommend that you keep a notebook by entering your mistakes. Include what you learned from these mistakes and what you would do next time in a similar situation.
You can also ask your friends for feedback as they can assess your situation more objectively.
What successful people do differently
Success is not a matter of coincidence. If you compare the lives of successful people, you will always notice similarities.
One thing in common is that successful people are not afraid of making mistakes as they have learned to deal with their fear.
Whether they’re Arnold Schwarzenegger or Steve Jobs, you can be sure they made a lot of mistakes.
I even go one step further and say:
The most successful people have most likely made the most mistakes.
The difference to unsuccessful people is that the successful have not been intimidated by their mistakes, have learned from them and have continued.
If you are currently afraid of mistakes, keep in mind: You fell countless times before you could run. It worked out pretty well, didn’t it?
“If you want to be successful, double your error rate.” – Thomas Watson (founder of IBM)
What happens after you notice a mistake?
As soon as they become aware of a mistake they have made, many people start to put themselves down:
“Only you can be so stupid!”
“You will never make it!”
“You are such a failure!”
Believe me, these negative internal dialogues are well known to me, but they don’t take you one step further and only harm you.
Instead, be kind to yourself. Remember: you always do your best, and you didn’t do it on purpose.
Learn from the mistake made so that you can avoid it in the future.
Accept the situation as it is. Take responsibility and try to make the best of the situation.
If possible, try to correct your mistake. If not, don’t let the setback discourage you and try again.
It often takes a lot of self-discipline if you want to try again, even though you don’t feel like it and are totally frustrated.
What is really a mistake?
Suppose you make a mistake because you didn’t know better. This is not a real mistake.
It is really a mistake to be aware of a mistake, but to commit it again in the future, hoping to achieve different results anyway.
If something doesn’t work the way, you want it to, stop running your head against the wall and question your methods. If in doubt, talk to a few good friends about it and ask them for advice.
“The definition of madness is to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results.” – Albert Einstein
You can’t do it without making mistakes, but how do you make as few as possible?
If you learn from your mistakes, it is not a bad thing to make mistakes. Nevertheless, they can be annoying and cost us valuable resources (time, money, etc.).
Accordingly, it is advantageous to avoid mistakes as far as possible.
Find people who have already achieved what you want to achieve and exchange ideas with them. You can learn from their mistakes.
“The smart man doesn’t make all the mistakes himself. He also gives others the chance to do so.” – Winston Churchill (British statesman)
If these people are not personally available, read their books or work with other coaching products. A book/coaching product often contains the experience of the person’s entire previous life.
Don’t be too good to take (a lot) of money into your hands. The investment will be worthwhile for you: As a rule, the knowledge of the person will get you to your desired destination much faster.
However, nothing will happen unless you implement this knowledge – nobody can take it away from you. Accordingly, follow the advice of successful people. However, it is always essential to make your own experiences.
Conclusion – overcome the fear of mistakes.
Making mistakes is not a bad thing, as they are natural parts of the learning process. Mistakes happen because we don’t know better. If we had known better, we would have done it differently.
It is essential to learn from these mistakes for the future. Do not be intimidated by the mistakes you have made and try again.
Remember that as a toddler, you weren’t afraid of making mistakes. After you fell, you got up straight away.
Learn from other people’s mistakes, as well. This can save you from making many mistakes yourself.
Don’t be afraid of mistakes. Be brave and dare to follow your dreams.
Richie Norton is right, you have to go through the fears to escape and overcome them.
Go Out Today and Confront Your Fears Head On! Do What You Fear and It Will Fear You!