Are You Willing to Fail?

FEARI’ve been thinking a lot recently about failure.

And failing.

I’ve been failing in my business for the last three years.

Failing my way to success.

It’s felt like two steps forward and three steps back.

I’ve often felt like giving up.

I still have those days.

Wondering if I should just go and get a “proper job”.

Those are the days when my Inner Saboteur is in charge.

You know, that voice in your head.

The one who says in the most condescending, you-are-a-piece-of-shit, dismissive shrill:

“It’s never going to work, you’ll never be able to make a proper living just doing what you love – get real!”

“Who did you thinking you were kidding anyway!”

“Face it. You just don’t have what it takes. You’re not good enough and never will be. Get over it!”

When the Saboteur is in charge, those thoughts feel like the truth.

Until I remember.

My Story

That those thoughts are just a story.

A story I made up. To keep me safe.

Because if my story is true. Then it’s okay to give up when the going gets tough. Sensible even.

Then I can stop putting my self-worth on the line.

I can fail small.

Not too many people will know. I can get over it and go back to my safe place.
My comfort zone.

But if I carry on.

If I “act as if” none of those thoughts are true.

If I choose to believe those thoughts are not who I am.

If I choose to believe I have everything I need inside of me to create exactly what I want in my life.

If I go for it in a big way.

There’s a risk.

I still might fail.

Then I will fail big.

And then everyone will know.

That all of those thoughts are the truth.

And they will all point. And laugh. And say: “I told you so.”

And I might not recover.

From the shame.

My identity will become: “Failed Coach and Business Woman.”

Failure. With a capital F.

That is how the world will see me.

How my kids, my family, my friends, my clients, everyone I love, will see me.

That is how I will see me.

I’m Not the Only One

I see this fear in my clients.

It may not be a fear of failing in business.

It may be fear of failing in their marriages. Or failing to go for and achieve their dreams.

Failing to live their best lives.

I see how it holds them back from becoming the person they know they are meant to be.

I see how it paralyses them.

And I feel so much compassion.

Because I can see how amazing they are.

I can see what’s possible for them beyond the fear and the self-doubt.

I get how desperately they want to break free and break through.

And yet they are afraid.

To risk walking through the fear.

To get to the happy, fulfilling, purposeful lives and marriages they so desperately yearn for. And deserve.

The Shift We All Must Make

We are worthy already.

Me. You. All of us.

We don’t have to succeed, or fail, at anything, in order to prove or disprove our worth.

Our successes and our failures are not who we are.

We are enough. Right now.

When we learn to love ourselves enough to truly believe this, we can redefine “failure”.

We can understand that just because we really, really want something – that doesn’t mean it’s going to come easy.

In fact, we’re probably going to be challenged over and over again and tested to see just how much we really want it.

We may have to “fail”.  A lot. Before we get there.

And we won’t make it mean “we” are a failure.

We will make it mean that we need to adjust course, try something else, take more action, get feedback. Maybe even start over.

We will walk through the fear.

We will see it for what it is. An opportunity to learn something more about ourselves and our lives.

An opportunity to tap into our resilience.

An opportunity to reconfirm our commitment to ourselves and to living our best lives.

We will be willing to be vulnerable.

To put ourselves out there.

To know that we may be ridiculed, or criticised, or shot down in flames.
And we will carry on regardless.

Because we will know we have nothing to prove.

We’ll be willing to fail our way to success.

In our marriages. In our relationships. In our businesses. In our lives.

Because doing what it takes to live our best life is worth the risk.

Because that’s who we are.

But What About When the Saboteur Voice Takes Over?

The Saboteur is never going away completely. Sorry to break it to you. 🙂

So you might as well get used to him/her residing in your head.

In fact, the more you stretch and grow out of your comfort zone, the more threatened your Saboteur will feel.

And the more he/she will turn up the volume and urge you to retreat to the safety of your comfort zone.

Here are Three Steps to Dealing with the Inner Saboteur:

(1) Acknowledge the thoughts. Stay with them. Have compassion for the part of your mind that just wants to keep you safe. Write them down in your journal and let your worst fears spew out onto the page. Feel the feelings your negative thoughts bring up. Don’t rush this part, stay with it until you are ready to move on.

(2) Question the thoughts. Look at what you’ve written. Are those thoughts really the truth? How much of it is factual? Would these “facts” stand up in court? How much is your “story”?

What is choosing to believe these thoughts costing you? What will it cost you in the future? How are you using these thoughts to sabotage yourself and take you off of your path? What is the pay-off (benefit) of you holding on to these thoughts?

(3) Change the thoughts. When you’re ready, ask yourself what else you can believe about this situation that also feels true, but positive. What do you need to think and believe in order to get the result or outcome you want? What new thought is going to give you the feeling you want (excited/energised/calm/confident) that will have you wanting to get into action and moving forward?

Rinse and repeat as necessary.

What About You?

Now I’d love to hear from you! What is your biggest fear and how does it hold you back? What strategies do you use to get past your Inner Saboteur that work for you? Please share in the comments below.

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30 Comments

  1. Hi Julie

    Once again you hit the “nail on the head”with a great topic. Challenging our insecurities is always a “biggy” and one we constantly have to re-visit. Your comments are always so direct, simple and to the point. Thanks!!!

    Wendy

    • Hi Wendy! Thank you so much for commenting and for your lovely feedback. You’re right, facing and challenging our insecurities is something we all have to constantly work on!

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Hope all is good with you and your business.

  2. I really enjoyed reading your article, it reminded me of where I used to be with my thoughts and how I have been slipping back there lately.
    Its good to get a reminder of how the saboteur can influence what I think when I am down so thank you for the blog, its time to pick myself up and get on with achieving what I want in life.

    • Thanks Anna. Yes, it’s very easy to slip back to our old thinking and believe the Saboteur voice is ‘the truth’.

      Glad you enjoyed the article and are now ready to get on with all the amazing plans you have!

  3. Julie–I really enjoy your writing and your posts. You have a way of saying things that makes it all so clear. I am on an upswing right now and diving deep into my business. Fear is at bay for the moment. But when he (and I do think of him as a he) rears his ugly head again I am going to revisit this post. Thank you!

    • Thank you for your lovely comment and feedback Lorna, I’m so pleased you are enjoying my posts! Happy to hear you are on an upswing in your business, having that momentum really does help to keep the fearful voices at bay doesn’t it!

      Wishing you continued success with all of your business endeavours.

  4. Oh I *LOVED this post!!

    And perfect timing: I am at a bit of a crunch point in my business, and my inner saboteur is running *wild* at the moment!!

    Thanks so much for this beautiful post, and for the important reminders. I am going to sit down and do these exercises when the I.S. next strikes!!

  5. Love the simplicity and power of your writing. I’m always amazed (when I return to sanity) at how differently everything appears when viewed through the lens of fear. So I’ve gotten into the habit that whenever I’m in fear, I dismiss and pay no attention to my perspective because I know it’s totally wrong. Even if it has me in its grip at the moment, I know I can’t trust what I’m thinking and feeling. I do however let fear show me what needs healing and I ask for help with that “…show me how I can see this differently…”

    • Thank you Silvia. And thanks for sharing the personal strategies you use when fear strikes.

      What a great idea to just recognise that you are seeing the situation through the lens of fear and pay no attention to it – I love that! Also asking for help in seeing it differently. I am definitely going to add both of those to my toolkit!

  6. Hi Julie, this post touched my heart. You do have such a beautiful way of expressing yourself. Fear is an awful ‘thing’ that we all have to contend with from time to time. I love your 3 steps to dealing with your inner saboteur and will put them into action immediately!

    • Thank you Sonja, I appreciate your feedback. Glad you found the 3 steps to dealing with your inner saboteur helpful and that you are going to put them into action!

  7. Wow… that really hit me about the ‘if we fail then at least it is small’ idea. It is scary to fail in front of a lot of people and the more you put yourself out there the greater the risk. You are absolutely correct. Thanks for sharing this, great insights about how to move through these feelings in a healthy way and with good perspective.

    • Thanks for commenting, glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, I think the ‘failing small’ idea subconsciously holds us back from putting ourselves out there in a bigger way. And having that awareness is the first step in busting through it!

  8. Great post, Julie. It’s funny how the idea of FAILURE could take up so much space in our heads…it definitely is fear-based thinking, and totally normal, at that. And at the same time the biggest failures that do happen are often the ones you learn the biggest life lessons from. It somehow, unleashes all of your inner wisdom. I’ve learned to take higher risks in life, embracing the fact that, yes, there might be some failure involved. And there is nothing wrong with that – it’s what makes us human…

    • Thank you for your comment Desiree. Yes, the idea of failure does take up a lot of space in our heads doesn’t it? And you’re right, our biggest lessons in life often do come from our biggest mistakes.

      You’ve got a great perspective on ‘failure’ being a necessary part of life/personal growth and it sounds like have your Inner Saboteur well under control! Thanks for sharing.

  9. This is gold!
    You touched the very basic thing every one of us is dealing with.
    You’re right! We are not our thought!
    I keep reminding myself that every day.
    By the way – I love the writing and journaling part. I’m actually doing that and it helps a lot.
    Thanks for sharing this post!
    Adi

  10. RIGHT ON! I believe with my whole heart in everything you’ve so beautifully written, Julie.

    I love the idea of “failing my way to success.” There is no other way, is there?

    And staying with the feelings until you’re ready to move on. I believe those feelings are there to direct us to EXACTLY where we need to go to get to our next level, so getting cozy with them is so essential.

    Really love your thoughts on this!

    • Thanks so much for your comment Andrea. Happy to hear that the post resonated so strongly with you.

      Thanks also for sharing your thoughts about the purpose of our feelings when we choose to acknowledge and listen to them – completely agree!

  11. Julie, just discovered you. It’s the first time I hear about “wife coaching” and goodness me, do I need it. Poor hubs is a bit neglected with my busy work life!

    I need to have a good conversation with my saboteur!

    xox
    Alejandra

  12. Beautifully written. I love the comparison of the small fail to the big fail. It makes so much sense. I will most definitely keep that in mind the next time my saboteur starts yabbering away.

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