I'm My Own Worst Enemy - Self-Critisism & Fear Of Failure
My fear of failure is holding me back here on SteemIt. I need to step up my game... soon!
While I’m scrolling through the posts in the ‘contest’ tag stream, I have mixed feelings. Every time I come across another writing contest, my heart starts to beat a little faster. I want to join, I want to write!
But in the end, I join none. Not because I don’t want to, but because there’s this huge, undefinable fear to fail.
The Love For Writing
A while ago - when I was still using my old account - I wrote the post 'The Negative Effect Of SteemIt On My Self-Esteem', in which I told about how intimidated I was by all the top quality writers I came across every day here on SteemIt, and that I didn’t know whether I would be able to stick around much longer.
Fortunately, by the time I finished the article, I realized that I had simply enjoyed writing - for the first time in years.
It’s because of that love for writing that I’m still here.
I’m completely aware of my limits, both as a writer and in my knowledge of the English language, but during these last couple of months, I also learned that although my writing skills are far from top-notch, they’re definitely not the worst.
Still, I tend to play it safe when it comes to choosing topics to write about and the audience I’m aiming at with my posts. I know I can level up, but I simply don’t have the guts to do it.
Avoid Failure, Do Nothing
I want to enter those writing contests so badly, yet there’s always that little voice in my head that tells me I’m not good enough. It tells me I will fail and make a fool of myself...
The rational part of me - or maybe I could call it ‘the other voice in my head’, but I don’t want you all to think I’m crazy - wonders what the worst thing that can happen would be. I don’t win the contest, so what? At least I would have tried.
The only way you can not fail is by doing nothing.
So far so good. No failure in sight at the moment...
Where does that little voice in my head get the guts to tell me that not winning equals failure?
And even more important: why do I hold on to that, even though I know better?
Would I be losing my reputation as a writer if I wouldn’t win?
Of course not, because I don’t have any.
Would people think less of me if I wouldn’t win?
No, most of them would probably applaud the fact that at least I gave it a shot.
But the biggest question has yet to come...
Would I think less of myself, if I wouldn’t win?
I know it’s sad, but my answer to that question would be ‘yes’. I’d feel deeply disappointed and would probably conclude that I’m not good enough, and that I would have failed... again.
So I keep doing what I do: I keep writing articles on ‘safe’ topics, aiming at an audience of which I think I won’t be judged by...
I Need To Step Up My Game
I do realize that if I want my SteemIt journey to become only a little successful, I need to step up my game and go for it. But that little voice is always there, and I don’t have a clue how to shut it up and make it disappear.
Until I find a way to ignore it, I’ll probably won’t join any writing contests - no matter how much I want to.
This all feel so stupid, because giving up or not trying also feels like I’m failing. And so we’re back to square one...
I’m writing this post because I want - no, I need - to break out of this pattern of destructive thoughts. This is a step towards changing my mindset. I realize changing your mindset doesn’t happen overnight; it takes time.
And I do need to allow myself to take this time, without feeling I’ve failed because I haven’t mastered this skill yet.
How I would like to be able to look at the world and myself in the same way Thomas A. Edison could when he said
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
Thomas A. Edison
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That's a good quote by Edison at the end there! I've used that to inspire myself many times in the past. But it can still be hard, I can relate with your sentiments..
I go through this on a regular basis with a game I play on my phone called Clash Royale, it's pretty much the only game I play these days and.. There's a lot of good players! Why should I get so disappointed and let down when I lose? I dunno, but I still do. I think it's really difficult to get over that sometimes and when I lose a bunch of times in a row sometimes I feel like quitting.. Like.. I should be spending my time working or doing something else more productive, though I almost always come crawling back cause I enjoy the mental stimulation, I enjoy being able to have something that's a distraction and a bit fun from time to time. And that's a good thing I think.. Sorta like when I played Chess growing up as a kid, it's not always about winning or losing.. But growing and learning and having fun. :) If you can find a way to appreciate the process and not focus so much on the end result I think that might help! Sometimes we gotta lose a bunch before we win and sometimes we may never win, though if we learn from it all and appreciate being a part of it.. Then I think that's even more important than "winning".
It's great when you can win and it feels good, and it can be sucky when you lose sometimes too.. Though I think it's awesome when you can sort of detach yourself from the whole winner/loser mindset and just have fun and learn new things and appreciate the time you spent regardless of how it ends up in terms of results in regards to winning or losing. If you can find a way to really tap into that mindset, then I think in a sense.. You're always a winner and you never lose cause you're always growing and learning and having fun. Plus.. I think being less attached to the outcome often helps you actually win in the game more often as well! From my personal experience I tend to mess up when I get too "into" it, or too focused on the outcome.. When I let go of the outcome and just play to have fun I find I do a lot better! And maybe my experience won't translate to you or to everyone, but it has helped me look at these things in a better light and I hope something I typed up there does help you in some way. Cheers friend. :)
I completely agree, and that's what I've been telling others for years... I just can't seem to put it into practice myself. That's the most frustrating part: I knów, but I fail in doing something with the knowledge.
This mindset doesn't only go for things that are contest-related. it's the story of my life. My parents thought it was important that I'd raise the bar. It has become a (very bad) habit to set such high standards for myself that it is impossible to live up to them. As a result, I always feel like I'm failing and like I'm not good enough. It's a vicious circle I am aware of and I've been working hard trying to break it for the last 20 years.
Sometimes I succeed, and I can escape from that negative spiral that has a huge effect on my self-esteem. And even though it happens more often than it used to, those moments are still a rarity. These negative thoughts are still surprisingly strong, even after all those years. The fact that I know all this in theory doesn't help, because it only adds to the feeling of failing again. And so I keep going around in circles...
But I've not given up hope that I'll learn eventually :0)
Sometimes things are definitely easier said than done! I can relate.
Hmmm.. I see... That's a bummer. I think I've dealt with similar in regards to my parents and friends and family. Trying to live up to others expectations can be rough, and oftentimes they don't even really expect that from us, we just think they do.. Though either way whether real external expectations or that which we have created from within that we believe are external, when it doesn't line up with what we'd like it causes stress.. I wish I could give better advice, but I suffer from similar things and I'm not sure what to say there.
That's interesting and makes me think.. I think I can once again relate with that.. The knowing but not necessarily being able to do what you know or feel like you should do.. That's a tough one, you'd think if we really knew we should be able to do but like I said at the beginning it can be easier said than done, so I think that's a significant crux of the issue.. And how do we get passed that aspect of doing what we feel like we know we should do? I dunno.. I wish I did.. I could probably help a lot of people including myself, but I'm still struggling with that as well.
That's good to hear! :) I'm not giving up either and hopefully I learn eventually as well! But if not, sometimes I think it's just good to accept who we are, failures and all.. Even if it doesn't line up with how we thought we should be. At least we tried! That's one of the most important things in my opinion.. Is just to try. Even if we don't succeed. We can hopefully feel better knowing we gave it a go and that our heart was in the right place even if it didn't work out. <3
Mike, I wouldn't worry about it so much. Great writers just write and get better with each sentence. If you keep writing you will find that you haven't even reached your potential yet. Most people are too busy looking at themselves to notice your own self scored sense of failure. It's when you pull something amazing, inspired and original out of the bag that they sit up and notice. That kind of is one of the secrets of life. If you can't resist writing then you are a writer. There are levels of course but generally speaking we all find our own level at something eventually and the audience sector is already there on each and every level, waiting to be informed, entertained and sometimes educated too. ! fear of failure has it's roots in humiliation. If you can reach into where it started, it's much easier to extract, analyse and put in the right place. it may be pushy parents, school bullies, teachers.. Someone made you feel hesitant to share your ideas in the past. It's probably time to let it go. Your writing is good. As long as you can keep the reader interested you are a good write at any level ! who knows how far you can go. Write about the topics which you really fear. You don't have to share the results with anyone but you'll be surprised what passion and interest can do to your output.. and it's infectious. be inspired by @jaichai
Thanks for the motivating words.
It's true what you say: it's time to let go.
Unfortunately, that sounds way more easy than it actually is - lol - but I'm working on it :0)
Sure. you made the point. Like you said here, sometimes, what makes us to give up before even attempting is seeing how good others are when compared to ourself. That is especially evident here on Steemit. When you look at earrings of those post, it kind of intimidates you. That "little voice" will say: "You see, I told you. You can never write so well to gather that number of upvotes, earnings or comments." And the moment you scroll to see the other trending post with high earnings, the voice gets even more stronger. But the obvious reality is this: if you make an attempt, and fail, you have learnt a great deal. Indeed, most people fail to realize that failure is part of success. I have never seen a successful person who never failed at one point or another on the road to success. The difference between them and you is your outlook on what just happened. They take it as a stepping stone to do better, majority others take it as the end of the road. So as much as i have understood it, Always give it a try. Do not give up if you failed initially or did not live up to your personal expectation. Look at what happened, learn from it and move on. No matter how strong that "little voice" is, i always hear and listen to the one that shouts out: "NEVER SAY NEVER"
You're absolutely right. Success can not be achieved without failing, since if you never fail, you won't learn anything.
The irony of this post is that I managed to overcome my fear and did submit it for a writing contest, and won. :0)
You can imagine that. So the post is a living witness to what we are saying. Happy to hear that.
I know the feeling, and most of people do too! First of all, you are already brave talking about it, so be proud of that. There's nothing wrong in failing, everyone does and besides that, we should do what we want regardless of people will think. I'm not a religious person, but in my country we say "if jesus didn't please them all, why should I?".
This week I had to ask some papers in the gym, I couldn't barely sleep thinking "what they are going to think of me for asking this, how stupid". But so what? I need that thing and this isn't anyone business.
Just commit to do something everyday your mind wouldn't expect you to do, this way you'll be reprogramming your brain to believe the message behind the action is different from what it had built. You will break your own paradigms. Do with small things, and then bigger ones, and the then the biggest that terrifies you must. The power is within yourself, go for it!
Some wise advice, thanks. Your words reminded me of something I didn’t think about in a long time. Someone once told me that if I wanted to stop making the same mistakes over and over again, I should reprogram my brain by for example taking a different road to work every day, instead of always taking the same one.
I guess this applies to this matter too - and any other issue I’m struggling with.
I’m going to try to put this into action: do something every day my mind doesn’t expect me to do. (Although it doesn’t sound very easy, since I normally overthink everything I do before I do it)
Thanks! I’m eager to find out where this will take me :0)
You actually have better English than most native speakers are capable of commanding. And your writing is very up to snuff. Don't worry about failure, just do it. If you see a writing contest, just join it anyway. What's the worst that can happen? You write an article everyone else gets to read that doesn't end up getting picked? So really it's no different than not joining the context, except the fact that if you don't join, you don't have the chance of winning. There is no lose in this situation, it's a win-win.
Stop the self sabotage and just freaking do it already. I'll still follow you, I'll still end up reading it, I'll still end up commenting and I'll still end up likely giving you yet another upvote.
Sometimes all one needs is a kick in the ass. :0)
It’s about time I stop wining and take action, because this is indeed a ‘luxury’ problem: I’ve got nothing to lose, only to win.
(It’s still scary, though)
And yet you have absolutely nothing to lose but everything to gain. Don't worry about it :)
failure is when you don't even attempt...
That's true for sure...
I know how you feel. I'm experiencing that up until now, but I'm trying to mend my mindset too.
I am someone who has lots of thoughts and choices in mind, that sometimes it makes me do less, worst nothing. I became bad at decision making. I've been trying out things with no assurance of what could come up. I wanted to do what I love not what I should. I became someone who is far different from what they've known me. My edges are gone. I must admit, depression has affected me emotionally.
Someone like me who pretends to be strong in front of people I know needs a reminder like this. Having to read this post really strengthens someone who experiences such situation. I was, and many would.
I hope everyone will continue in believing in the beauty of their dreams. I have been, and will always.
Sound very familiar.
I have the tendency to overthink everything, which often takes me into a negative spiral of thoughts and conclusions.
I'm slowly, but surely battling my way out of a depression.
These last couple of months have taught me that there's no use in pretending to be strong if you're not - it only makes things more difficult.
Sometimes it is in the people around us. My dad is a perfectionist and that made me try my hardest. I'm always keen of what I'm doing. I was lost and trying to make the path I chose a right one. They say, a decision becomes wrong when it is not correctly justified.
"There's no use in pretending to be strong if you're not - it only makes things more difficult." - Thanks! I'll keep that in mind. Little by little, I should start redeeming myself too.
I’m only taking babysteps myself :0)
I had a mom who always told me that trying simply wasn’t good enough. I had to succeed in everything I did.
Which, of course, is impossible. She died more than 10 years ago, but I’m still trying to get rid of that mindset...
I'm sorry to hear that about your mom.
You see, perfection is a disease of a nation (from Beyonce's Pretty Hurts song), but we should strive to be best the way we are. By doing so, you're making your own mark. What is success if it's only you who know about it. (please don't get me wrong)
Steemit's vision is giving, not only writers but everyone, the courage to create their own mark by means of blogging. The beginning is always hard (that applies to everything), but still we should know how to eat an elephant. - by taking the first bite.
True, perfection doesn’t exist, and all we can be is the best version of ourselves at the time present.
Success is hard to define, because everyone has a different idea of what being successful is.
I like the expression about having to be able to eat an elephant - never heard it before, but it perfectly describes my SteemIt experience, lol
Yeah, it sounded funny when I heard it the first time. One of my professor who is a Christian Born Again asked us this. I was puzzled and thought of why eat an elephant. She meant the other way around and it was interesting.
If what's ahead is too big to handle, how would you start to deal with it? You should take the fist step no matter how little. Taking the initiative is a progress. Let that progress continue and before you know it, you've already made an accomplishment.
It’s a good way to deal with things :0)
I need to remember that...
I feel you. I am not a writer, I don't pretend to be. I've been told I'm a pretty good storyteller though, but most importantly that I come across as sincere and real. My passion is more artistic, painting and coloring (LOL) Yet I have all the same fears. How do I know what to post? What's interesting? How do I get more followers, how do I succeed. So far I have figured out, post. If you don't have a topic or a couple planned out. Speak from your heart and be yourself. If you don't take that chance, if you don't try then that is the failure. Keep at it. You only get better if you keep working at it.
I think what you wrote here was great. It's clearly written, I can feel your frustration with that twinge sitting in the back 'I can do this.' I keep telling myself..."How can you fly if you don't jump?" Keep at it @simplymike You've got this :)
Thanks. It's nice to know you're not the odd man out. I really try to speak from the heart, and sometimes I actually manage to finish a post without overthinking it - but still, too often I let my mind take the lead. But I'm learning... :0)
Same here. I have to remind myself to not overthink things. Adding that one brush stroke or line can ruin what you're trying to do. I try to keep it simplistic. Very hard to do :D
In the immortal words of Yoda: "There is no try, only do." You got this @simplymike.
If you have an idea what to write about, you are already ahead of 80% of us.
lol - Most of the time I don't have a clue. And then suddenly, while I'm in bed at night, and idea comes up and I start writing using the little screen of my phone. I don't get a lot of sleep since i'm on SteemIt :0)
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What a sincere post! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
We all have destructive thoughts and self-doubt. But what would happen if you fail? What's the worst thing?
For me it's even worse not to have participated at all..
That’s the issue: I know I don’t have anything to lose. There’s no ‘worst thing’ that can happen.
And indeed, not trying is the only way to fail.
I know all these things, but somehow I manage to sabotage myself when trying to put this knowledge into action
Well, with this article you've shown already that it's not your writing skills or knowledge of the English language that's holding you back. Sometimes it can be very frightening to share your thoughts with a community and opening yourself up to criticism and feedback... But in the end you have to realize you're doing this for yourself. Maybe try to focus on things you want to realize by blogging. For me personally I have the goal to connect with people, to learn from the articles I read and to improve my written English. Because these goals are purely based on what I do, the fear of getting rejected by others gets minimalised. Maybe this way of thinking can help you aswell :)
As with everything in life, I mainly aim at personal growth, whether this is about getting more knowledge or insight in myself or the world I’m living in. When it comes to that last one - actual personal growth - I think it’s not easy to be open about it, because I feel very vulnerable.
On the other hand, when I do write a post that is as open and honest as this one, there are only positive, inspiring comments.
I should know by now that the fear of being rejected only exists in my head...
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Kind of funny, you don't want to enter writing contest because you might not win, and I did not want to enter some because I was afraid, of "what if I won?" In the end I entered a few, had fun, and then faded away, (got busy doing other things, now real busy).
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Never give up! I am not a real writing type buth thanks to a post that i found a while ago, i am making progress little by little every day. I don't remember who wrote the post buth it just came down to the fact that you have to force yourself to write a little post every day for at least 30 days in a row. You don't have to actually post them if you don't want to buth after 30 days you feel more free in your writing style and you will feel more comfortable writing things. You dont have to worry abouth your language either because i think that almost 50% of steemians does not have english as there first language. Everybody is just trying there best and we all know how hard it is to write in a language you are not raised with.
The actual posting part is the easiest of them all. Sometimes if you are having doubts, it's better to just close your eyes, hit that post button and see how it goes ;)
I'm sure you will be just fine.
I’m not really sure about the ‘force yourself to write’-part. In my experience, when I try to write, it doesn’t work out. It has to come out spontaniously.
But I guess everyone has his own way. :0)
By the way,I always close my eyes ánd hold my breath when I hit the ‘post’ button - lol
The 'force yourself to write'-part sounded really scary for me to, and the first days i was getting almost nothing on paper buth in my second week, things started to feel more natural and that was a big step for me. Now, i am not making posts every day because when i try to do that, i really start writing crappy posts buth it helped me to start giving more usefull comments to people too in stead of the save and boring, spammy 'i like your post' comment.
I don't join some contests because I don't know if I want to commit the time. If it's not something that grabs my attention and that I think I'll enjoy, I don't join in.
I think there's another saying that if you don't try, you've already failed. Maybe that can encourage you to give things a shot. If you try and fail, you haven't actually lost anything.
I hope things go well for you. Looking forward to hearing about your successes!
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Wow @simplymike you sound like me! Carbon copy! My last couple of attempts have been quite self-absorbed as I'm in the doldrums ... maybe we should take a chance. I seem to have amazing conversations with myself which would make a fantastic post, but by the time I get to sit in front of the laptop it's all gone! Yesterday while I was driving I came up with something I'd like to write about, so I grabbed the cellphone and sent myself a voice note. Hopefully my next post will prove I'm trying to up my game! Good luck, keep writing, you seem to have an excellent grasp of the English language.
I defintely know all about such conversations, and I have truckloads of those car-voice notes - lol.
Loads of post-its with ideas too, but if I can’t write them at the moment I come up with them, I might just as well not write them down...
Someone here on SteemIt once gave me the wise advice not to TRY to write. If it’s not spontanious, it won’t work out.
So I try to not overthink things. Sometimes I manage, sometimes I don’t...
Good luck with your next post!
Sounds like great advice @simplymike. Spontaneity is key. I wish you good luck too with your next post :)
You shouldn't be afraid of failure. Successful people know that failure is feedback.
If you fail at something, figure out what you did wrong. Fix that, and you'll do better next time.
There is no failure, only lessons...
It not been easy, just one thing keeps me going, a man who has nothing to lose has everything to prove, and am determined to do just that, thanks for your masterpiece .
I was wondering why you didn’t write ‘a man who has nothing to lose has everything to GAIN’ instead of ‘prove’?
Having to prove something puts a whole lot of weight on your shoulders, I’d think..
It means that I need to work hard to prove Myself.
To whom do you have to prove yourself? To yourself?
I think you should cut yourself some slack. There’s nothing to prove.
I’ve set my goal to growing, instead of proving. That doesn’t put the stakes as high, and makes it easier to reach the goal
The law of nature is to give something for something .
Just let it flow @simplymike! This post proves you are good enough! A good writer knows they inter workings of their mind. Remember Action is Power! Make it happen! We support you!
Thanks for the kind words. I’ll try to remember ;0)
Hey @simplymike, this is an awesome post, and I'm guessing you're not the only one who feels this way. I taught high school English and History for years and used to tell my students, especially the ones who focused solely on grades, that there is no such thing as failure, there's only learning ; Failure only happens when you do nothing at all.
Even if you don't win "that" contest, you can go and read the post which did win, and see what you can improve upon for next time. I always think that if you can break down the specifics of your 'worry', then perhaps you can focus on that one thing to do differently next time.
Oh and by the way, a BIG congratulations for winning @terminalyill's contest :)
Thanks. It’s pretty ironic, is it, to actually win the contest with this post?
I agree that failure only happens when you do nothing at all. Still, that little voice is often stronger than everything else, even that knowledge
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