To stop being afraid, come out and play!

This article advocates for a less serious approach to trying new things. It talks about fear of failure, and how to overcome it by putting new directions you want to try in the context of a game.


This article advocates for a less serious approach to trying new things. It talks about fear of failure, and how to overcome it by putting new directions you want to try in the context of a game.

We’ve already discussed fear of failure in posts “It’s okay to suck” and “Never fail at anything again.” Yet this issue is so widespread and deeply rooted that simply talking about it once or twice won’t do.

Fighting fear of failure comes down to our individual efforts to minimise its effect on our life. It helps to notice where you discourage yourself from acting because you’re afraid of a bad outcome. But what do you do when you catch yourself in Fear mode to get yourself out and start moving again?

Try switching into Play mode! I’m serious, to stop being afraid it often helps to… not take yourself so seriously. Fear of failure happens because we exaggerate the importance of something, as if our life depended on it succeeding. It also feeds on unrealistically scary images of drastic failure that might happen if we give something a shot. These misconceptions we carry around create enormous weight that brings us down and takes away any desire to try.

When you notice that you’ve been postponing something for way too long because you’re scared you won’t do a good job at it, give Richard Branson’s approach a shot – “Screw it, let’s do it!” This is the attitude with which he started Virgin, according to his autobiography. Did he know he would end up a billionaire and an inspiration for his contemporaries? Probably not. Did that stop him from trying? Hell, no!

Give yourself a chance to see how far you can go by taking the pressure to succeed off your chest. Remember, when you were a child, you didn’t bog yourself down thinking whether your drawing classes or evenings spent at the piano could lead you to becoming a world-class artist. You were simply having fun and doing what felt right instinctually. Why then do we second-guess ourselves now?

It could be because in the adult world there’s an added pressure of “making it” in the eyes of society. Well, here’s the good news – it’s a product of our imagination. We come up with an illusion that someone will bother judging us if we won’t “make it” to give ourselves permission not to act. How about we give ourselves permission to act and have fun with it instead?

I’ve heard someone comparing this choice – to act or not to act because of fear – to a game of Hot & Cold. You know, the one where the first player hides an object and the second tries to find it, going by the other’s hints – “hot” when they come close to the thing or “cold” when they go away from it. You’ll never find the item in this game unless you go looking for it, and adjust your course as you get feedback.

The same can be said of looking for your place in life. You just can’t find it by standing in one place, terrified of hearing “cold.” To arrive there, you’ll need to get moving – that way, you’ll either find what you’re looking for, or you’ll get new directions how to get there. The farther you go, using your instincts and the feedback you receive along the way, the better your chances of hitting the mark!

Are you ready to learn through trying? Then, let’s roll!

Enjoy your journey!

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful ❤ As an FYI, the Hot & Cold metaphor came from a video by Ray William Johnson (the game piece starts at 5:00, though in the rest of the vid there’s good advice, too). As usual, these recommendations are personal, with no commercial intent. Let me know if you’re ok with this kind of sharing or you prefer articles without outside refs – your feedback is highly appreciated!

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