The Fear of Failure

Q: I am a BE dropout, worked for few BPOs, now unemployed and I don’t know what to do and i am very frustrated with life, always brooding about the lost opportunities and a lack lustre future. How do I get rid of the fear of failure?

A: If you believe that you have a “lack lustre future”, chances are that you will be right. In order to change the course of your life, in order to live a better future, you have to first understand that your thoughts about your future are incorrect. They are unreal. They are figments of your imagination. Your pessimism is a result of your mind working against you.

Now, your mind is devious. It is going to try to convince you that you are in a difficult situation. You probably tell yourself, “I will not do well because I do not have an engineering degree. I am a failure and I am scared that I will always be a failure.” In this manner, your mind makes your despair worse. You begin to feel more and more fear, and this fear inhibits you from moving forward.

What should you do then to understand that your future is as bright as you want it to be?

First, see that this fear is irrational and unfounded. Failing an exam or an academic program does not mean the end of the world. Far from it. The biographies of successful people are replete with instances of failure that preceded success: Abraham Lincoln, Einstein, Napolean Hill, and closer home, Gandhi, Dhirubhai Ambani and so on.

Failure is always a stepping stone – either to further failure, or to success. The choice is yours.

Next, in order to transmute your present dejection and despondency into a drive for success, start by rejoining studies or employment. It does not matter what you do, as long as you do it with enthusiasm and passion. When you immerse yourself in your work – however trivial the work might seem – you will begin the process of change. Persevere, and believe, and soon you will know that your future, far from being lack luster, is actually full of reward, enjoyment and almost infinite possibility.

Your present situation is not a setback, but an opportunity for growth. Use this time to do the following –

a) Examine your assumptions about life and about success: What does success mean to you? What are your talents and strengths? How can you build on them?

b) Accept yourself unconditionally: People often grow up with the notion that love and acceptance are contingent on something else – either finances, looks, possessions, and so on.

When we are deprived of all these external trappings, we are forced to confront our selves, our core. This is the time then, to see that even without anything, without a job or without much possessions you are still a valuable and worthy member of society, that every one of us has an intrinsic worth. In the eyes of existence, we are all equal.

In summary, opportunities are neither lost nor found. They always exist, even in times of despair, perhaps especially in times of despair. Have faith, and confidence. Work and learn without fear. And a successful future will reveal itself to you.

Best Wishes!

Shyam Bhat MD

July 11, 2009 | 10:20 am | By Dr Shyam Bhat