Vulnerability: Confronting The Fear of Failure

Have you heard the saying “Tell me what you fear and I will tell you who you are?”

Believe or not, your fears could be the gate which conducts you to your real passion, to your real nature.

Have you asked yourself, what fear really is? If we look at the standard definition, you find things like “Fear is an emotion that is characterized by an intense sensation of discomfort caused by a potential danger- real or imaginary. It can be manifested in the present or it can even be triggered by something that happened in the past or for what will happen in the future” (Oxford Dictionary)

In scientific terms, researches that study the effects of fear focus on the biological and physical effects that we experiment once the fear sensation dominates the human mind: First the object of fear is decoded by the brain; the information goes through the limbic system, which then starts to trigger survival reactions like the fighting mode and scape mechanisms. At all moments, the limbic system is registering perceptions and keeps adjusting the reactions to maintain the alert state even during our sleep.

Once our limbic system detects and registers the potential danger, the amigdala triggers a series of answers which travel through our body and alerts it to react against the potential danger. Some reactions our body experiment are as follows:

  • Increase of blood pressure,
  • Increase of muscular tension,
  • Increase of adrenaline,
  • Increase of glucose levels on the blood,
  • Cohibition of non-essential body functions

The reaction to fear can be so intense, that it could even turn us into panic mode, which is a very intense fear sensation, where you could lose partially or completely the control over your mind and body.

The imminent fear experienced when you are directly confronted by a dangerous situation is a natural and healthy reaction which is inherent as a mechanism for our survival.

However, we as humans experiment fear not only on the physical plane but also on the psychological one: We can experience fear about thoughts that happened already in the past or invented situations that do not exist yet.

This sensation of incapability or paralysis towards a potential fear is what make us feel vulnerable. Vulnerability is nothing more than the feeling of being uncapable of dealing with difficult or risky situations, uncertainty and physical and/or emotional exposure.

Psychologist Jordan Petersen, argues that there is inherently nothing wrong with experiencing fear; the problem is when the sensation of fear overcomes the desire to strive and act in direction to your goals.

The feeling of vulnerability is the responsible that thousands of people are not capable of developing their own talents or to live the life they desire, because they are paralyzed by the fear of failure… to what other people say, or not to be accepted by a social group.

In reality, fear can be the consequence of the lack of identification with your true Self.When the perception of who you are is just linked with what you see outside, with your past and present experiences… you start to lose contact with the inside.

Like Brené Brown says: “Shame keep us small, resentful and afraid. In shame-prone cultures, where parents, leaders, and administrators consciously or unconsciously encourage people to connect their self-worth to what they produce externally, I see disengagement, blame, gossip, stagnation, favoritism and a total dearth of creativity and innovation”.

So, we can go as far as to say that is not failure but fear, the real killer of creativity.

Knowing that, I wonder, what is the motivation to keep ourselves surrendering to our emotions of fear? Why not to give us an opportunity to overcome the feeling of fear and strive?

We all have the capability to overcome our fears by making the conscious decision to stand for ourselves and our values. Those are the primal foundations that are indestructible. If you know who you are and what you are after, the fear of failure cannot stop you from moving forward.

I would like to leave you with a poem from Vincent Peale, which summarizes the message beautifully:

It is the tenacity that will make you triumph someday, do not tire, old leopard! Keep firm;
It is so easy to give up.
It is to continue with the chin up which is difficult.
It’s easy to shout that you’re beaten … and die.
It is easy to walk like a crab and crawl.
But fight and fight when hope does not show itself…
That’s the best fight of all!
And to think that you will resist every strenuous attack,
All broken, all defeated, bleeding.
Try one more time;
It is deathly easy to die.
It is to continue living what is difficult.

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