Wellbeing: Overcome fear (of failure and success) to follow your dreams

Fear of success (as opposed to fear of failure) can actually prevent us from following our dreams. But how do we overcome this block? Kinesiology practitioner Antonia Beamish has some ideas

All of us have things that we want to do; ideas that we’d like to try out, plans we’d like to build and potential that we feel building inside of us that we want to unleash.

Antonia Beamish
Antonia Beamish

Yet, for many of us, we go through this lifetime not allowing our full potential the room to breathe. It’s not the fear of failure that’s the driving force behind our hesitation in starting something new, it’s the fear of success.

If anyone has seen the film Coach Carter (and if you haven’t, I highly recommend it) then you might remember this quote about fear: ‘our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us’.

It can be a lot to get your head around this as we usually associate the difficulty in starting something new with a fear of failure, but in fact, it’s really the fear that we’ll confront our true magnificence and the fear of how we will handle this version of ourselves that stops us from starting.

So, when thinking about starting something new, it’s worth considering what might happen if you start, and make a list of all the potential positive outcomes, not the negative ones.

We need to get used to seeing what we’re capable of, written down on paper, so we can really start to feel the energy and embrace it, rather than be scared of it.

Is fear preventing you from taking that leap of faith?
Is fear preventing you from taking that leap of faith?

Of course, the fear of failure is also a big obstacle that we can’t ignore. It can be really hard to take a risk, even if it’s a small one, if our fear of a negative outcome overwhelms us.

We might also have a previous traumatic experience related to starting something new that makes us freeze at the idea of starting it again, and that’s completely normal. The trick is to recognise it, work through it and love yourself for the experiences you went through, rather than stay in a cycle of fear, shame and blame.

Here’s a little story for you that might help. In my mid-twenties I used to love the gym and I eventually started working for a fitness company where I stayed for almost four years. But during this time, I became burnt out from constantly pushing myself.

So, for the last seven years I hadn’t been in a gym, but in my heart, I was craving it. Yet, the fear of burning out again by pushing my body too hard was too great. I realised that the trauma of burning out was blocking me from my potential.

So, one day, I had a friend take me to the gym and all of my fear vanished as soon as I was there, doing it. And this is how it works: when you walk up to the fear it disappears because it was never real in the first place. It’s only real in our minds.

Yet, the one thing that we all need to watch out for is fear in disguise, and the best disguise fear rides with is self-sabotage.

We all have self-sabotaging behaviours, and most of them we’re not even conscious of. One of the biggest ones, and one we’re all familiar with, is procrastination. We procrastinate in a myriad of creative ways yet the reason behind it is always the same.

Essentially, we procrastinate because we’re scared. It’s an avoidance tactic so we don’t have to confront the fear but our power lies in our awareness of our fears.

The trick to starting something new is to find out what feeling you’re trying to avoid by putting that thing off. Be honest with yourself. What is it really that’s stopping you from starting? Is it fear of failure, is it fear of confronting your awesomeness, is it a fear of emotional pain, embarrassment, self-judgement or perhaps a fear of not doing it well enough?

Once you have awareness of the driving forces behind your difficulty in starting something new you have the ability to do something about it which is the most empowering thing you can do for yourself.

So, take a deep breath, find your courage and take a look in the mirror to see what’s really going on. Then, when you’re ready, you can walk up to those things that you’re most afraid of and start seeing what’s on the other side. And I promise you, it’s a really wonderful view.

Antonia is a systematic kinesiology practitioner based in Cambridge. Find out more at antoniabeamish.com

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