There are a number of reasons why it may seem as though one might be approaching work somewhat shyly or simply begin to fall behind on expected demands at work, though one of the more typically overlooked reasons for this can often be an apprehension towards failure or making a mistake in the workplace.
Someone with this condition may procrastinate or avoid any situations where they don’t feel they’ll be completely successful. They may set unrealistic objectives or goals for themselves, which only increases the possibility of failure
This unease often leads to a misplaced idea among employers that workers are either inadaquate, unable to complete given work or are simply unwilling to do so, and such a fear ends up hurting employers through a hesitation to complete work to adequate timescales, and the reprimand that may come from that.
However, it is also detrimental to the employee through an inability to work to their full potential, the professional consequences that might come with this, as well as the psychological stress that it can cause as a result of both of these.
So what exactly is a fear of failure, what are its symptoms, and how are some of the ways that you might go about combating them?
What is Fear of Failure?
Fear of failure, also known by its clinical term as ‘Atychiphobia’, is a psychological state wherein an individual harbours feelings of stress or anxiety towards something so intensely that they are put almost into a state of paralysis, procrastination or avoidance towards doing or engaging with a task or given activity.
Usually, but not always work-related, an individual can have such intense feelings primarily in situations where there is a risk of negative evaluation (judgement) from others or a perceived inability to measure up to their expectations, although these feelings can often stem from an internal worry that one might not be able to meet their own expectations.
Whilst everyone experiences it differently, some of the symptoms commonly associated with a fear of failure are:
- Excessive amounts of anxiety when approaching work or being given more work to complete
- Procrastination or putting work off that need to be done for long periods of time
- Fear of negative evaluation (judgement/criticism) by others
- Not wanting to let other people or yourself down in order to avoid feelings of inadequacy or deficiency
- Physiological symptoms such as shaking, sweating, nausea, chills, and dizziness among others
Despite the varying nature and severity of the condition among individuals, it can certainly be very distressing and debilitating for those who experience it, and fear of failure itself is often self-fulfilling negative self-talk, one of the main drivers of failure that wouldn’t have otherwise occurred.
Repeated often enough, such failure can unfortunately lead to a detrimental impact in one’s own personal and professional life and as such should be recognised and treated as soon as possible and with the appropriate care that such a condition deserves.
How Can a Fear of Failure be Combatted?
There are multiple ways of treating Atychiphobia, although the most common is for a person to undergo Cognitive Behavioural Therapy.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (or CBT) is a form of talking therapy that works by getting a person to recognise some of their thoughts and feelings regarding a certain fear or thought that is holding them back, in this case an intense fear of failure and negative evaluation, and allowing them to see how these negative thought patterns are contributing to many of the difficulties they are experiencing related to their problem.
Someone with this condition may procrastinate or avoid any situations where they don’t feel they will be completely successful. They may set unrealistic goals for themselves, which only increases the possibility of failure.
Fear of failure is a distressing feeling that some individuals may experience when approaching work or other situations that could allow them to fail or be criticised in some way.
It is often coupled with feelings of anxiety surrounding their ability to complete work to an adequate standard or fall short of someone else’s expectations as to the level at which a task should be completed.
Depending on its severity, it can often be highly detrimental in several areas of a person’s life, and as such is important to be treated. Healthy Mind Coaching & Training can offer a free 20 minute consultation to discuss issues and concerns of this nature and offer services to work with clients who are displaying such symptoms.