One of the most common things I encounter as a teacher is the fear of failure or fear of change.
We know that change can be good for us. Examples might be weight loss, quitting bad habits, developing good habits that give us better health.
The amazing thing is we fail at change over and over. We prove to ourselves over and over that change is something to fear because we had a bad experience.
Why? We fear change. This fear leads to procrastination and lack of commitment to a goal, regardless of whether or not it will lead to positive outcomes.
Once you acknowledge your fear of change, you can take positive steps to overcome them.
Common themes in fear of change:
Fear of Failure
Why bother. Its is a waste of time and effort. Most of the time the root of this fear is your pride. We don't want to look bad in front of others so we don't try. This leads to failure to commit time and energy to the creative process of life.
Fear of Pain, Discomfort, Effort
This one is probably the one I see the most often in the arts. People avoid effort and then grouse about why they are not progressing with their skill level. Wonderful, talented people avoid effort because they fear the pain and discomfort of failure.
Fear of Success
This one has a grain of truth to it when you consider the what-ifs of success. What if I succeed and then I have to put out? Most of the time people fear having attention drawn to them if they are successful the pressure of having to produce and add to your success. This one makes a lot of us feel like a deer in headlights.
Fear of Criticism
Fear of what others will think of you or your work. This one is so common among artists or people who have inherent talent but have heard from kindergarten that art is a waste of time and besides you should stick to what you know best. So many good, talented people bench themselves because of this debilitating fear.
Fear of New
This put people in a box. How many times have you admired someone who tries new things? Yet, you say, I really admire that person but I would never do that OR I would not be good at that OR I am going to stay in my safe place so I don't have to feel the fear and absolute joy of experiencing something new.
Fear feels real but most of it is mental and can be overcome. Look inside yourself and ask why am I afraid to do that? Try one small thing at a time and celebrate the victories, no matter how small.
Full Confession about 1 Item in my own life. I was afraid of going from film to digital. I can still hear my voice of doubt and fear as the technology world marched relentlessly forward, wiping out the film world I knew. I remember so vividly thinking I could never grasp the digital camera and it myriad of functions. Film was all I knew for the previous 30 plus years. My partner and I had perfected our craft and knew it intimately.
I can still smell the fear when people asked about digital and what we thought about it. I remember the paralyzing self doubt and the fear of how new it was. It definitely put me in a box. I was afraid of failure, criticism and the new. How about that for being stuck!
I worked my way out of it by observing how others dealt with it, studying the articles written about digital cameras, trying it out in small ways before making a full leap. I think the first foray into digital was scanning our transparencies and getting a digital file from what we had just photographed for a client. Our clients had fear also. They really didn't understand this new digital world. It fell to us as vendors to be able to explain to our clients what they needed to know and reassure them that everything would be ok. We gave them film and a digital file scanned from the transparency or film for their needs. Ironic in a way. Teaching what we needed to know.
The next step was actually using a digital camera. We acquired a Canon 10D anchored a digital assistant to learn. This is the same as taking online courses, or a course at your local Adult School. We were able to learn as we worked. This gave us more skills and confidence to overcome the fear of failure. Since our livelihood depended upon this, you can believe we were motivated. Gradually, we knew more and more and our skills began to parallel our skill in the film world. It took time, effort and overcoming the fear of failure.