Fear of Making Mistakes

Today, many people want to be successful in their work. Failure in any action has a negative emotional impact on the person. When some people fail in their work, they feel very emotionally depressed. This state of depression is so strong that it can sometimes cause a person to become depressed. From this point on, people may avoid many actions in order not to make mistakes, or they may experience intense anxiety when performing an action. In this article, the anxiety and reasons for failure will be discussed.

Before performing an action, feeling negative emotions such as fear about the consequences of that action and giving up or being forced to perform the action due to these negative emotions is called the fear of failure or the fear of making a mistake. Fear of making mistakes affects the person negatively in many ways.

  1. Fear of making mistakes prevents a person from being successful and blunts their ability to use their talents. The individual holds back from many actions in order not to make mistakes. As the thought of “I didn’t make a mistake because I didn’t take any action” gets consolidated, the person becomes more passive over time. The common characteristics of successful people are that they are individuals who are not too worried about making mistakes and are able to progress despite their mistakes. For this reason, not taking a step forward in order not to make mistakes makes the person unsuccessful over time.

  2. As the individual pays attention not to fail, he begins to cease to be himself. For example, when a person wants to take up a hobby (swimming, playing an instrument, sports, etc.), if he can’t stand the thought of “what if I can’t”, he may give up on taking up a hobby. This state of anxiety causes the person to give up the action they want to do. Or the person wants to learn English, but gives up on this situation because he feels intense thoughts such as “either if I make a mistake or if I can’t learn it”. Therefore, the fear of making mistakes deprives a person of many things he wants to do. The person ceases to be himself anymore and turns into a living being just to avoid making mistakes.

  3. Fear of making mistakes causes individuals to stand still and causes them to experience some mental problems. A person who has an intense fear of making mistakes is worried about stepping forward from his safe space in life. Its safe space may be restricted inertia or inaction. For example, choosing not to be promoted at work, not being able to change jobs, not being able to move, avoiding new experiences, etc. All these situations push the person to feel psychologically distressed for a long time. Psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, anger, and panic attacks that make the person difficult also greatly reduce the satisfaction one receives from life.

  4. Fear of making mistakes blunts one’s ability to make decisions. It becomes very difficult for an individual to make a decision on any issue. The individual begins to worry so much about making a mistake that he is in dilemma for the fear of making mistakes in the decisions he will make, and the state of being in this duality causes the person to feel distressed in his inner world. In particular, these people need help from their environment because they have difficulty in even simple decisions. Therefore, he takes his individual decisions by asking the people around him.

Reasons for Fear of Making Mistakes:

  • People with critical parents often have a fear of failure and making mistakes. When the person is exposed to some negative behaviors of the parents at the points where he made mistakes in his childhood, he learns to make a lot of effort not to make mistakes or learns to be inaction in order not to make mistakes. Both conditions cause the person to feel psychologically distressed.

  • Growing up in an intolerant society. If the person is brought up in an environment that frequently judges and does not accept mistakes in the circle of friends, school, and other social relations, he may be worried about making mistakes. For example, if the individual had a teacher who scolded him every time he made a mistake in his childhood, he probably has a fear of failure.

  • Fear of making mistakes is frequently seen in individuals with a perfectionist personality structure. There is no room for error in these people’s lives. They often get angry with those around them who make mistakes, such as their employees. They work too hard in order not to make mistakes, and as a result of long studies, they feel mentally and physically depressed over time. Since a perfectionist individual wants everything to be perfect, mistakes are very worrying for them.

Overcoming the Fear of Making Mistakes

The fear of making mistakes, also known as the anxiety of failing, is actually a problem of psychological pressure learned during behavioral training. In particular, the fear of failure is increasing in our society. The reason for this situation is the increase of parents trying to raise perfect children, the judgments of the society, the intolerant approach and the shaping of the social environment according to these values.

It should not be forgotten that every individual can make mistakes because there is no rule that says “there is no room for error” in the essence of being human. On the contrary, to be human is to make mistakes. People often make mistakes because they are creatures that mature and develop in the process. Mistakes give people experience, and these experiences turn into a gain and make the person more successful in the future. The important point here is that the person gains experience from the mistakes he has made and shapes his next life according to these experiences. For example, a person who made a mistake in his study strategy learned not to apply the same strategy in his later studies. This will cause the person to look for a more efficient study strategy. One way to grow and mature naturally is to make mistakes. Therefore, not taking any action or taking limited action in order not to make mistakes can disrupt the natural development and maturation course of individuals.

How Does Psychotherapy Work with Individuals with a Fear of Making Mistakes?

In psychotherapy, many working techniques have been developed to understand and resolve people’s mental distress. The task of the psychotherapist is to use the appropriate school and working techniques suitable for that school. For example, with the client who has a lot of trauma in their past experiences related to the fear of making a mistake, the traumas there are tried to be healed by referring mostly to their childhood memories. Clients who can talk about and heal their traumas related to the fear of making mistakes can also reduce their fear of making mistakes over time. The therapist can use more appropriate techniques in individuals who have a perfectionist personality structure or have a more distorted thinking system. For example, they can work according to the cognitive behavioral therapy school and explore the client’s thoughts about being perfect, noticing the secondary gains that come from it. In this way, the fear of failure of the client who gains insight may decrease over time.

Fear of making mistakes is a psychological problem. This problem, which makes the person’s life difficult and more unpleasant, can be solved with psychotherapy. As with every mental distress, when the problem is not resolved, it can lead to growth over time and lead the person to a dead end in his life. For this reason, individuals who are worried about failure are advised to solve the problem without wasting time.

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