Fear and the F-word: Failure

Fear of failure is a biggie. Big enough to put us off trying at all in the first place. Big enough to have us feeling flat and depressed-like if we believe we in fact have already failed. Big enough to put us off doing anything which challenges us. Big enough to paralyse us in our tracks.

It sounds like:

“But what if something goes wrong?”
“I’ll mess it up, I usually do”
“I’m not good enough at this”
“I’m not ready”
“I can’t do this”
“I’ll never live this down”
“I never get it right”
and things like “What’s the point?! I’ll just embarrass myself”

I’ve noticed I’ve felt it even when I was in the process of succeeding. And realised I was inadvertently searching for ways to prove that I was actually failing instead of enjoying the moment. Ironic hey?! Why do we do this to ourselves? If things stuffed up, would it be that big of a deal? Is it realistic to do everything flawlessly ALL THE TIME? Mistakes and failings are part of the process of learning, and how we recognise what not to do, or what we want to do differently next time. And there would be very few situations that we truly cannot try again. It’s clear that it’s a waste of time and energy to worry over getting something wrong without it having actually happened.

What if we had a tool that could help us with this? A tool that was virtually free, easy to use, and the process was quick and painless. A tool that could help us understand ourselves in the process. Oh that’s right, we do! The tool is Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).

It goes like this:

  1. Think of how badly you’re failing at something, or likely to fail at something in the future, or will fail if you try it (“so why bother”), or failed a gazillion years ago and are still kicking yourself for it.
  2. How does it make you feel? Get it in your mind and make it really clear, exaggerate the feeling if you need to so it’s crystal clear. Enact the failure in your mind if you like, including associated parties or disaster fallout evidence.
  3. If you had to rate the intensity of this feeling from -10 (intensely strong negative feeling) to +10 (intensely strong positive feeling), where 0 is neutral – what would it be? Get a number in mind or write it down.
  4. Take three deep breaths with your hands in the centre of your chest. (ps. it won’t work if you just sit back and read..) We’re now going to improve the flow of energy in relation to this failing.
  5. Tap the top of your head gently with your pointer finger. In the meantime take a deep breath and say “This failure”, “I’m a failure”, or anything else that captures how you feel (“I suck” is fine).
  6. Tap the middle of your forehead gently with your pointer finger, while taking a deep breath and repeating your phrase about failing.
  7. Tap the inner edge of one eyebrow gently with your pointer finger, while taking a deep breath and repeating your phrase about failing.
  8. Tap the outer side of one eye gently with your pointer finger, while taking a deep breath and repeating your phrase about failing.
  9. Tap underneath one eye gently with your pointer finger, while taking a deep breath and repeating your phrase about failing.
  10. Tap underneath your nose gently with your pointer finger, while taking a deep breath and repeating your phrase about failing.
  11. Tap underneath your mouth gently with your pointer finger, while taking a deep breath and repeating your phrase about failing.
  12. Tap your collarbone (the angle where the collarbone meets the breastbone) gently with your pointer finger, take a deep breath and repeat your phrase about failing.
  13. Tap the side of your thumbnail (where the nailbed ends) gently with your pointer finger, take a deep breath and repeat your phrase about failing.
  14. Tap the side of your pointer finger gently with your OTHER pointer finger, take a deep breath and repeat your phrase about failing.
  15. Tap the middle finger gently with your pointer finger, take a deep breath and repeat your phrase about failing.
  16. Tap the ring finger gently with your pointer finger, take a deep breath and repeat your phrase about failing.
  17. Tap the pinky finger gently with your pointer finger, take a deep breath and repeat your phrase about failing.
  18. Tap the karate chop point (the fleshy side of the hand which would strike something in a karate chop action) gently with your pointer finger, take a deep breath and repeat your phrase about failing.
  19. Return your hands back to the centre of your chest and take three deep breaths, and a sip of water.That’s it, that is our tool and all of the actions that we need to know. Easy, right? We’re not completely done though. We have taken step one to attempt to evolve our feeling.

Now think about the failure. What’s it feel like now? Did you notice anything change through the process of the tapping about your issue? If you consider the strength of the feeling, where would it be now, from -10 to +10? Has it evolved?

Also consider if anything came to mind, such as a specific event or memory. Here might be clues relating to what has lead to the fear, or even examples of why the fear is less significant than it seems.

If you rate the issue between -10 and 0:

  • Repeat the above sequence of 19 steps, tapping for that failure, using your own descriptive phrase. If the feeling has changed, by all means change the phrasing to suit, or continue tapping for “this failure” with it in mind.
  • Reassess once finished. Has the feeling evolved, does it feel different, has the rating changed? If you are feeling neutral about the issue, follow the instructions below. If still negative, repeat again.

If you rate the issue between 0 and +10:

  • Repeat the above sequence of 19 steps
  • Tapping for that failure, using a positive phrase. How do you want to feel about that thing you originally felt you were failing with? Choose a phrase or word that makes you feel good. “Successful!”, “I’m awesome!”, “Effortlessly brilliant!”, “I can do this!” are some examples.
  • Reassess – How do you feel? How far up the scale can you go? You can do as many rounds as you like.

I hope that you followed through your feeling to the positive end of the scale, and are left feeling fantastically brilliant compared to how you began. Any evolution of your original feeling is a very GOOD thing, and the aim of EFT. If you are stuck at all, please contact me or any certified EFT practitioner in your area.

What might it feel like to not be afraid of failure? To embrace an experience for what it is, in the moment, not the outcome. To be open to seeing your successes without a cloud of fear in the way. Sounds pretty good to me.

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