How to Overcome Fear of Failure and Rejection – 7 Proven Steps


Nobody likes to fail or be rejected by family or friends. But when that fear overwhelms us, it can stop us from achieving great things and enjoying our life. So I wondered how to overcome fear of failure and rejection.

Here’s what I figured out:

Overcoming fear of failure and rejection requires acknowledging it, acting within 3 seconds so we don’t give ourselves time to chicken out, understanding that we won’t always succeed, a growth mindset for learning from our mistakes, and actively working to improve our self-esteem so other’s opinions of us matter less.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at fear and how it negatively impacts our ability to do what we need to be doing.

Most importantly we’ll look at 5 incredibly simple things you can do to overcome that fear of failure and/or fear of rejection.

What is the fear of failure and rejection?

Atychiphobia is the technical name for the phobia that causes a fear of failure.

I’m not talking about run of the mill fear, but more like when it becomes debilitating or disruptive to your daily life. Kakorraphiophobia, while similar, is the fear of rejection.

Are you scared or fearful? Do you hesitate or procrastinate when you know you should be taking action? Maybe you get stuck, unable to move forward or backward out of paralyzing fear?

It prevents us from doing what we need to do to better our lives and to be the person, spouse, and parent we need to be.

All of us, even the most confident among us, have a fear or phobia that at one time held us back.

To be alive is to be afraid of something. Perhaps you are afraid your spouse doesn’t love you or will leave you? Maybe you’re afraid of bad things happening to your kids? Or perhaps you have a fear of never reaching your full potential and just working and toiling in mediocrity until you die.

Of course, some people have simpler fears like being afraid of snakes or bugs.

But whatever your fear(s) they ARE holding you back. They ARE preventing you from being and doing more.

In the case of your marriage, insecurity can actually push your spouse away.

And over-the-top fear of your children getting hurt can actually cause them harm since that can prevent us from preparing them for the real world.

One of the key differences between Successful People and Unsuccessful People (click to read all my examples on my site) is the ability of the successful person to acknowledge and work past their fears.

Want to know more tips and strategies to be more successful? I highly recommend you take a moment and check out my post on just that.

What causes a fear of failure?

As with many phobias, these are often linked to trauma in our past.

Ironically, it’s not uncommon for someone with atychiphobia to have been raised by a parent with it as well. As parents we know we have to protect our kids. But there IS a difference between protecting them and helicoptering over them so much that they never learn to pick themselves up after they fall down.

Kids need to get their hands dirty. They need to know you believe in them and trust them. But they also need to learn how to take care of themselves because let’s face it. You won’t always be there.

There’s a huge difference in never letting them out of your sight and allowing them to run wild with no supervision.

If you teach your child to fear the world; that the world is a deadly place, they could easily grow up with atychiphobia.

Trust me, it’s easier to start your kids off right then having them have to learn how to overcome that as an adult.

Do you struggle with a traumatic past and you know it’s holding you back? My most shared post on Twitter is about how to Let Go of Past Hurts & Move Forward (click to read that on my site).

How do I stop being scared of failure?

As with any issue, problem or addiction, the first step is acknowledging it.

An alcoholic is 50% on their way to recovery the day they acknowledge they are an alcoholic. They may not have stopped drinking yet, but just by being honest with themselves and others, they are well on their way.

Why?

Because admitting you have an issue is scary. So by admitting it anyway; by facing your fears, you are taking those first steps towards overcoming it.

Show me someone successful and I’ll show you someone who has learned how to control their fears. They may not have conquered their fears, but they are no longer controlled by them.

They acknowledge the fear, they don’t run away from it. But most importantly, they don’t let the fear hold them back.

Once you acknowledge the fear, the next step in learning how to overcome it is to baby step your way to getting past it.

Simply begin to do little things to confront the fear.

Fear of heights? Go up 1 step up from the highest you’ve ever gone. If you can go up 1 step, the next day you go up 2.

You see standing on top of the Empire State Building is daunting for almost all of us.

But how hard is it to climb a ladder or look over a 1 story balcony? Not hard at all. If you break down the goal and the fear a little bit, day by day, eventually you’ll get exactly where you want to be.

Want some more simple and actionable tips on how you can Face Your Fears and Live Your Dreams?

In a recent article, I cover all the benefits you’ll get from facing your fears. As I mentioned above, you may never get to a place where those thoughts don’t enter your brain.

But you can get to a place where you control those thoughts rather than the other way around. Just click that link to read that on my site.

Why are we afraid of rejection?

A fear of rejection is a little less tangible than a fear of something like snakes or even heights.

Fear of rejection is typically tied to low self-esteem. When we don’t feel good about ourselves and our efforts, it can cause paralyzing fear. It becomes easier to not put ourselves out there than it does to try and risk not succeeding.

When we are confident we don’t worry as much about what other people think of us, or if someone doesn’t like us. That doesn’t mean we like it, but it does mean not worrying about it or letting it get to us.

Of course, low self-esteem damages us in many ways beyond the fear of rejection.

If you struggle with low self-esteem, I highly encourage you to check out a recent article about 9 Amazing Ways of Boosting Self-Esteem.

In that post, I walk you through some simple techniques that can help you overcome your low self-esteem. Just click that link to read it on my site.

What is the fear of not being good enough?

Atelophobia is the clinical name given to a specific type of anxiety disorder that describes a fear of not being good enough.

In a nutshell, we’re talking about a fear of imperfections. So, right out of the gate, we have to acknowledge that this person will NEVER achieve their goal. You see we human beings are inherently flawed.

We aren’t perfect and we WILL make mistakes.

So if you suffer from atelophobia and dream of never making a mistake you will always wallow in the fear of not feeling good enough.

You will feel self-conscious. And you may feel inferior performing even the most mundane tasks as you may feel you aren’t performing them correctly.

This disorder can affect work, relationships and the person’s overall feeling of well-being. So, it’s crucial that if you feel like you fall into this category that you seek professional help.

There are several things you can do that can affect brain chemistry and your overall outlook.

So in addition to seeking professional help, I strongly suggest you check out a recent article of mine called 11 Ultimate Ways to Improve Your Life Before You Die.

Those are just some simple tips that I truly believe can help reframe our overall outlook and attitude. Just click that link to read that on my site.

What percentage of people fear failure?

A recent survey by the social productivity platform Linkagoal noted that fear of failure almost 1/3 of the 1,083 adults who took the survey.

That 31% was a greater percentage than almost any of the other fears that topped the survey, including:

  • Spiders (30%)
  • Flying (20%)
  • Being home alone (9%) 
  • Ghosts (15%)

In fact, the only thing scarier to these survey takers were horror movies, coming in at 32%.

They went on to note that 49% of those surveyed said that “fear of failure was a major setback”, along with fear of embarrassment (44%). And 43% of them said their fear of failure prevented them from achieving their goals.

“Fear of failure is the No. 1 reason people don’t set goals or try new things,” said Mohsin Shafique, CEO of Linkagoal.

So what are my . . . 

7 Proven Steps on How to Overcome Fear of Failure & Rejection?

1. Acknowledge your fear

Like an alcoholic taking that first step and saying “I am an alcoholic” you have to admit you have a problem.

You know you’re afraid of (insert phobia here). Chances are your friends and family know too. So pretending it’s not there or ignoring it isn’t helping anything. 

Acknowledge your fears. Own them.

You may never get to a place where you don’t feel it. But you definitely want to get to a place where you control them rather than the other way around.

2. Use the 3-second rule

When we are afraid, we hesitate.

A single guy might see a beautiful person across the room. But he’s afraid he’ll get rejected if he strikes up a conversation. So he hesitates; he procrastinates.

He does that long enough to where he either psyches himself out of doing anything or until someone else swoops in.

But in that first few seconds, when you feel the sweat and the heart-pounding, act within 3 seconds.

Don’t give yourself a chance to chicken out. When we act within 3 seconds of an idea we don’t really give our brain time to think of all the negative consequences that hold us in mediocrity.

Leap; then look.

3. Accept that you won’t always succeed

Do you know what happened to the guy who never tried to do anything he wasn’t sure he could do?

He did almost nothing.

You see there’s only 2 things certain in this world; death and taxes. Everything else is a risk. We can manage that risk with training, information, and support. But to do is to risk.

Want to achieve great things? Want financial independence for your family? You’ll have to take risks.

So know to go into anything that you might not succeed (the first time). Know you will fail. Accept it. Learn from it. But don’t let that keep you paralyzed in mediocrity.

Michael Jordan is perhaps one of the most famous basketball players in history. When he was in high school, guess what? He got kicked off the basketball team.

Good thing he didn’t give up!

4. See the value in learning from mistakes

Believe it or not, but there was a time when Apple co-founder Steve Jobs got fired from Apple. Let me say that again. The guy who practically invented tablets and smartphones once got fired from his own company.

But he went off, started some new companies, figured out what he needed to do differently and then came back.

When he returned to Apple, years later, he ended up taking them to heights of success they had never imagined.

Heck, you might even be reading this on a device he helped create.

If he had given up when he got fired or didn’t see the value in learning from his mistakes, the iPhone, iPad, and iPod might never have existed. Jobs knew the value of learning how to pick himself up after failing and try again.

Do you?

5. Build your self-esteem so you care less what others think

I’m not saying walk around like an a-hole.

But there’s a huge difference between not placing value on other’s opinions and placing all of your feelings of self-worth in the hands of someone else.

Accept who you are.

Strive to improve a little every day. Own your mistakes. Learn from your mistakes. If someone you know and trust gives you some good feedback, take it to heart.

But don’t allow others to make you feel bad about yourself. No one can do that on their own; it requires your permission.

If you feel bad about yourself, acknowledge what you did that you feel was wrong.

Then own it and fix it. If you need to apologize to people you’ve hurt, that’s a big part of owning it. But they don’t get to tell you how to feel about yourself. Let them explain how your actions made them feel, but don’t let them dictate your own feelings of self-worth.

Working on how to overcome the fear of anything is really just about making yourself as good as you can be. And what constitutes “good” is a question only you can answer.

6. Fake it till you make it

I love this tip and it applies to lots of stuff. Now I know some people will scoff at it. But they are really misunderstanding my meaning.

What I mean is that trying anything new and taking risks will not feel natural at first.

Remember when you learned to ride a bike or drive a car? Chances are, it was scary the first time you took the wheel. It didn’t feel comfortable or natural. It felt fake.  

But the more you did it, not only the better you got, but the more comfortable you got doing it. In other words, you faked it (and practiced it), until you felt natural doing it.

So every day, do a little bit more to overcome your fears and every day it will get a little bit easier. Then one day, it will just naturally feel like part of who you are.

7. Visualize yourself doing what you’re afraid of

Call it the power of positive thinking, the law of attraction, or whatever you want.

When we positively focus our minds and think and picture ourselves doing something, we’re literally programming our brain to try and make that happen.

Now, I’m not naive. I’m not saying you can picture yourself winning the lottery and money will fall from the sky. But let me give you an example in reverse to better illustrate the power our brains have over what happens to us.

Chances are you know someone who is a Debbie-downer. 

They are that family member or friend constantly complaining. They’ll say things like “this always happens to me!” or “I’ll never be any good!”.

And sure enough, those things prove to be true. They are always in turmoil or crisis and they do often fail at jobs, relationships, or with money.

But it’s not because they are dumb or just unlucky.

It’s because they have programmed their brain to believe those things and make those things happen. Call it spirituality, karma, or physics; we get back the energy we give out to the universe.

So align your mind with your goals. Visualize yourself doing the things you want to be doing. Shut down those negative thoughts when they enter your mind. Your brain will follow suit and put you on the right path.

Have you wondered how to overcome fear of failure and rejection?

In this post, we took an in-depth look at the world of fear, failure, rejection and how those things can paralyze us and cause us to not take action when we should.

We looked at why we have these fears and phobias, how they prevent us from living the life we were meant to live, and what we can do about it.

Specifically, we looked at some simple, but crucial steps on how to overcome fear of failure and rejection. We may never lose our fear, but we don’t have to be controlled by it.

What is your biggest fear?


Of course I also have to acknowledge that I am not a mental health professional and that my views are simply my opinions based on my own experience and research and should not be construed as medical, mental health or professional advice. If you need medical, mental health or professional advice, you should seek out a qualified person in your area.

Jeff Campbell

Jeff Campbell is a husband, father, martial artist, budget-master, Disney-addict, musician, and recovering foodie having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Whole Foods Market. Click to learn more about me

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