(This blog was originally posted on February 22, 2016)
|Photo by Rick Hustead|
At some point during our lifetime, we will fail at something. Whether it’s a geometry test in high school, not waking up when the alarm goes off in the morning, a relationship doesn’t blossom the way we hoped, etc., failure of some kind is likely to touch us all. Despite the negative connotations and associations with this term, however, failing at something can actually be one of life’s greatest gifts because it usually presents an opportunity to try something else that suits us better. Dr. John Kappas, the founder of the Hypnosis Motivation Institute, used to advise his hypnotherapy students and clients to think or say “I like it!” even when the situation was unfavorable. Allowing ourselves to see the opportunity in perceived misfortune or inconvenience is a chance to look for and find that alternative path.
However, fear of failure is also a very real phenomenon that affects many, many people to the point of their becoming unwilling or even unable to pursue a goal or complete a task in case something goes wrong. Of course, consciously we know that not taking an action to realize that goal is another and more reliable way to guarantee failing at it. However, the subconscious mind is secretly relieved because this state of immobility is comfortable, familiar and “known.” Hypnotherapy can help you manage and overcome this fear to get back on track to pursue desired goals.
When I work with someone who has a fear of failure, one of the first things I want to do is help the client identify where and how this fear evolved. If the individual does not know or can’t remember its origin, I might suggest that the person will have a venting dream about the incident to analyze in a future hypnotherapy session. I would also desensitize the person to this fear and any stimuli that trigger this anxiety and replace the fear of failure with smiling or laughing, whenever he or she thinks about it.
Another effective strategy is to employ plenty of imagery/visualization exercises to prepare the client to get rid of this fear, and tie a stronger relaxation response to override the fear/anxiety. “You need to double-bind the client by substituting a positive suggestion for negative feelings or fear,” Dr. Kappas advised. For example, tie the client’s fear of success with the image of actually achieving that desired goal. If the person does not have any recent experiences or memories of achievement, I would work with him or her to choose and set small, achievable task to start this process. As the person continues to succeed at these projects, I would reinforce the association between relaxation and increasing confidence with achieving these new and increasingly challenging goals. Ultimately, eventually, the “fear of failure” will be replaced with a new subconscious known: enjoyment of success.
Sara R. Fogan, C.Ht. is a certified clinical hypnotherapist based in Southern California. She graduated with honors from the Hypnosis Motivation Institute in 2005. For more information about Calminsense Hypnotherapy® and to set up an appointment, please visit http://www.calminsensehypnotherapy.com/.