Students should be taught to understand that mistakes are supposed to happen and that’s the most important part of learning. Attitude towards failing needs to be changed.
We live in a society that places a lot of importance on achievement and performance, so parents have set high expectations from their children to perform well to lionize their names. At times, the teacher’s performance is also measured by the grades that students obtain in their examinations. This puts a lot of stress on the students making our education system look so scary, that it is often characterized by fear.
Unlike other fears (fear of confined spaces, fear of height, etc.), the anxiety and fear around predicted failure are often ambiguous and personal. Mental experts call this fear of failure to be Atychiphobia. This phobia leads to a disturbing way of life as the sufferer loses his confidence, determination, and curiosity to attempt and practice new things in life.
A lot of people have provided us with various steps to overcome this fear of failure. This fear of failure holds back students in both their on-field and off-field activities. Students need to take motivation from Robert F Kennedy’s statement about failure, “Only those who dare to fail can ever achieve greatly.”
Don’t give up even before you start
When students are afraid to fail, they tend to give up even before they start, so that they can avoid the possibility of failure. They get dismayed and dejected on themselves when they don’t get something on the first attempt, which results in anxiety and poor performance. Students need to be taught to place value on mistakes, as there really is one. They need to put emphasis on the process rather than on the output. An effort is always more important than ability.
Remember Thomas Alva Edison’s words about his failures, “I haven’t failed — I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. Students should be taught to understand that mistakes are supposed to happen and that is the most important part of learning. Attitude towards failing needs to be changed.
Be a part of the nurturing environment
A lot of people report that the most prevalent fear of failure is the fear of disgrace and humiliation in front of their peers. So, be a part of a nurturing environment where trying and failing is not followed by ridicule, laughter or embarrassment. There is a need for no shame policy.
Mark Twain did once express that, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” His quote actually portrays the state of mind of students who are perturbed about the worst-case scenario. It is always better to make them understand to put in their best efforts, such that the worst-case scenario would not happen.
Speaking with either parents, friends, or a teacher is sometimes all the support that is required to overcome the fear of failure by building resilience. Don’t bottle it up.
Psychologists have pondered over a lot and have categorized people into three classes on how they cope up with situations -Avoidant, Emotional focused and Problem-focused. Avoidant and emotion-focused coping may offer a temporary reprieve, but problem-focused coping addresses the issue head-on, allowing you to make long term gains. Address the problem.
Always have a plan B, if you are terrified of failing at something. This gives you the confidence to move forward.
Focus on learning not the results
Students always think that achieving a good grade in education or sport means all is well. On the contrary, getting a below-par score appears dull and gloom. This kind of thinking leads to stress and anxiety. Just focus on the learning and that will lead to success that one desires. Embrace the grey.
To conclude, losing itself isn’t intimidating. It gives one feedback on where one is standing from the expectation. It is the adverse aftermath that students think will follow that they fear. Many of us are sometimes afraid of failing, but that fear must not stop us from achieving our goals. It’s essential that students understand that they always have an option: either they can choose to be scared, or they can choose not to be. Follow the steps (process) mentioned above to overcome the fear of failure.
Author: Kabila is an engineering graduate, pursuing her MBA from Thiagarajar School of Management. Albeit with a work experience of 2 years in her profession, she has always been passionate about being a Tamil orator and has presented various fiery speeches in Media, Institutions and Election campaigns.