It’s a big year for me since I’ll be moving to southern Spain with my husband and two children in July. What does this have to do with fear of failure and relationships? (You’ll read on to find out how my transition relates to fear of failure when attracting and meeting a perfect match). I am conversationally fluent in Spanish but have nowhere near enough to deal with form-filling and officialdom and my husband and children are grappling with basic Spanish. I will continue to run my business from Spain and regularly fly back to the UK but my husband has no guaranteed work. On top of that we won’t be able to apply for schools until we have found a flat and have a rental contract. You probably think I’m completely crazy or have no common sense!
The truth is that ever since we made the decision to move to Spain during our holiday there in August, I have been fighting with my fear of failure. I have had sleepless nights worrying about whether my children will make friends, if we’ll have enough money, if I’ll cope without close family and friends living nearby and even if I’m making a big mistake. All this reminded me of the fear of failure I had when I was looking for a partner. I was afraid of starting relationships because I was scared that they wouldn’t work out. I was scared of online dating because I didn’t want to admit to my friends that I was using the internet to meet my future partner. I was scared of being rejected by men online and face-to-face. I feared that I wasn’t good enough for anyone. I was scared of getting hurt yet again, and so my list of fears went on. All my clients share one or more of these fears, but the clients who feel the fear and do it anyway are the ones who are now in happy, long-term relationships.
Why do we fear failure?
We are hard-wired as human-beings to focus on the negative aspect of any situation. This goes back to when we were cave people and had dangerous threats such as wild animals. This negative focus that things could go wrong was critical to our survival. The part of our brain that governs fear is know as the “reptilian brain”, it’s the oldest part of our brain and triggers a flight or fight response in dangerous situations. Neuroscientist, Gregory Berns says that, “The most concrete thing that neuroscience tells us is that when the fear system of the brain is active, exploratory activity and risk-taking are turned off.” We are not confronted with sabre-toothed tigers on a daily basis but our pre-historic fear instincts still influence our decision-making.
So when I contemplated moving to a different country my natural instinct was to focus on what could go wrong. I forgot about all the opportunities such as: leading a healthier lifestyle, meeting new friends, having new adventures and raising bi-lingual children. Did I also mention the sunshine? When I was single I knew I wanted a long-term relationship but found it difficult to focus on the positives of one such as, unconditional love, constant emotional support, companionship, physical affection, realising dreams together, improved financial security and having someone to share the load with. Here are my top strategies to overcome the fear of failure when attracting and being in a relationship.
Uncover the reason behind your fear
Fearing something that you really want may seem irrational. However, there is always a reason behind the fear and a benefit to maintaining it. The reason you may be scared of starting a new relationship is because you have been so hurt in the past. The benefit to being fearful of a new relationship is that you will never get hurt again. But, as long as that fear is kept alive, you will never benefit from all the positives of a healthy long-term relationship.
Accept your fear and work with it
In Susan Jeffers’ book, “Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway”, she lists five truths about fear:
1. The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow
2. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out … and do it
3. The only way to feel better about myself is to go out … and do it
4. Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else
5. Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness
There are two ways in which you can begin to work with your fear of failure in relationships:
Understand how your emotional programming has affected your choice of relationships
Psychologists estimate that 50% of emotional programming occurs between the ages of 0 and 5 years of age and 30% between the ages of 5 and 8. Only 15% of emotional programming happens between the age of 8 and 18 and that leaves only 5% of emotional programming in adult years. This means that the way our parents/guardians interact, show or don’t show us love are the biggest influences on our choice of romantic relationships. You can read more about this and work through an exercise to understand your emotional programming in Chapter 1 of How to Meet Your Perfect Match.
Identify the warning signals of your destructive relationship patterns
It is impossible to guarantee that you won’t ever get hurt again in a relationship, but you can limit the hurt by not repeating the same relationship patterns. Once you understand the warning signals of your destructive relationship patterns, you can walk away before you get emotionally attached. You can read more about this and work through an exercise to identify the warning signals in Chapter 1 of How to Meet Your Perfect Match.
Never give up
It took the inventor James Dyson five years and 5,127 attempts before he created his working prototype. It took a further five years of rejection before he launched what was to become the best-selling vacuum cleaner in the world. It may seem the hardest thing to go back online or go on yet another date but it will all be worth it when you are settled with your perfect match.
Lastly, remember that the brave person is not the one who is fearless, but the one who is able to overcome his fear.
You may also find my post How to Deal With Love Rejection helpful.