You can either learn fear of failure, or it becomes engendered in you through neglectful parenting. I believe that fear of failure comes from a core feeling of not being good enough, which is turn stems from a child’s feeling of being unloved, and perhaps being overtly or covertly criticised. When you are emotionally abandoned you automatically blame yourself. This blame is an instinct in small children, who have neither the experience nor the cognitive ability to understand that the blame does not lie with them. John Bradshaw puts it well when he writes that small children regard their parents as godlike and never wrong. From this idealisation the child’s logic points to themselves as the guilty party. Ultimately they feel guilty and ashamed. This internal self-criticism can make your life miserable and cause you many stresses.
This is perfectly understandable to me because I can identify with some of it. Despite my successes and achievements, I can look back now and understand how shackled I was by fear of failure. I will give you two important examples, both in the 1980s, when fear of failure prevented me from moving on in my professional life. At the time I did not realise that I had this fear and I am amazed that it is only in writing this book thirty five years later that this has become clear to me. I have also learned that we must own the fear, but that is difficult when we do not know that we have it, so it is important to bring it to awareness. Obviously we need someone to articulate it to us and then we can explore it.
Extract from my recent book – Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE