I could not have said it better myself.
In the words of a courageous bloggEE:
“…Fear of failure – yes, I’ve had that too, and still have. I was a perfectionist all the way to my fingertips and toes (and still am). I almost drowned in the impostor syndrome, falling into the bottomless pit of depression, not wanting to live anymore. You see, I feel I have failed so many times (I failed being perfect, I failed finding lots of new friends in a foreign country, I failed finding a stable job and even getting a boring day-job, I failed twice being self-employed, I failed my mother-in-law as I and my husband chose to be childfree, I failed having my books published, and so on – the list is long!), so it isn’t all that scary anymore. I know I will ‘fail’, but now I’d rather fail than not try…I don’t take myself so seriously anymore, so it’s much easier to DO new things and enjoy them, things that I have chosen myself, creative things that nourish me… And today, I accept (and love) my difference …And hey, if I express my quirkyness, other RFM people will probably find me! Today, I understand that learning new things all the time is essential to me in my life – if I don’t keep learning, I will once more fall into the pit of despair, and that is a place I don’t want to go back to. So yes, I prefer doing and trying instead of being afraid of failure. And finally, what is failure? I’m not letting anybody decide that for me anymore. If I learn, I succeed. And that’s it!…”
So. What if we all made lists of our so-called failures until we were no longer scared of them? We look them straight in the eyes and see how small and insignificant most of them are or, if, in fact, they are actually even failures. And for the big ones, perhaps, after we get some distance, we can see what we learned. You know the saying, right? You learn more from your failures than your successes. Well, it is true! Then, you might also examine what you are calling failures to see if they are losses but not failures.
And so, let’s hold a competition to see whose list is longest and we will give that person the prize for persistence, fortitude, ingenuity, creativity, and courage. OK?
By the way, you may or may not realize that your fear of failure is so intense because of the early pressure in your family to be super smart, which felt to you like the reason why you were loved. Must be smart. Must not make mistakes. Must win at all costs. Or you will lose the love, the attention, the recognition. Your identity.
But now you are older, you realize that learning is essential. So, you must risk failure to keep learning. You must make many mistakes along the way. You must fail miserably some of the time. Failures are necessary. Failures are your friends. Failures may be minor mistakes made extra large by your inner executioner who may, at one time, have been the voice of your mother/father. Failures take you on exciting adventures you may have otherwise missed. Failures are great material for TED talks and memoirs.
Of course, I am not saying you should go out of your way to fail. Although, that might be fascinating. You can have successes now and then, too.
But, hey, what is success, anyway?
To my darling bloggEEs: Let’s start on those lists. Let us know all about your failures! And thank you to the bloggEE who bravely went first.
For those of you who wanted more, do not despair. I wrote this article on perfectionism for psychotherapy.net published just last week. I describe healthy and unhealthy perfectionism and list many strategies for both. It might be a good one to share with your therapist.
And, my newly designed website/blog is in the works. Coming soon. It will have the same blog content. It will just be prettier.