Can you help me with my fear of failure?

I would recommend any or all of the following:

  1. remaining present.
  2. inquiry into this “me” that has fear and look for the source of the “me”.
  3. inquiry into the fear and look for the source of the fear.
  4. surrendering to God, the Self, Reality, and/or destiny/fate.

Fear of failure is a thought about the future.  If you are simply 100% devoted to the moment, then there is no thought about past or future.  In that total silence of mind, where is fear or future?  You have to move your attention from the experience of now and into the mind to generate thoughts about the future and fear of failure.

If you are unable to be 100% devoted to the moment, then fully experience and embrace the fear that is felt now.  If you don’t feel fear now, you need not go further…but if you feel fear now, where do you feel it within the body?  What are the sensations?  Feel it deeply and totally.  Also, be aware of the “me” that fears.  You said “my fear”, so you already identify with it.  Be aware of that identification with the feeling.  Feel the “me” associated with the fear of failure.

Then inquire.  Primarily, I would recommend inquiry into the “me” that has fear and look for the source of the “me”.  Secondarily, I would recommend inquiry into the fear and look for the source of the fear.

The key is to simply look…deeply (i.e. inquire).  Not trying to get something out of the looking…like trying to get rid of the fear or change the reaction.  Not trying to get away from fear…but going into it.  Just sit with it…be with it…and look.  In order to look deeply, it must be embraced.  Sit with it…be with it…allowing and accepting it (or more accurately – not resisting and not denying it).

You must seek the source until it is found…then you might question the source of that source.  In this way, you are bringing unconscious/subconscious conditioning into consciousness.  It is like peeling an onion…layers upon layers…until you reach the center.

If it is fear and the source of fear that you are inquiring into, then it is less like an onion and more like a fruit of some kind with a pit.  You will find the ultimate cause and then you continue to look at it and gain understanding in the looking.  Questioning it…is it true?  You may find that the ultimate reason why you fear something is totally unrealistic and doesn’t make sense.  See this clearly enough (i.e. ignorance about the fear is dispelled)…and understanding may dispel the cause and fear vanishes.

If it is the “me” and source of the “me” that you are inquiring into, then it is very much like an onion. An onion is not like a peach or cherry, there is no pit…no center within an onion.  It is all skins.  When you reach the center, you find nothing there.  You may realize the “me” is just a thought…a story we tell ourselves.  When you go to the source of the “I-thought”, there is silence.

The last recommended option is surrender.  Bhaktas or devotees worship God.  Many of the best of them surrender themselves to God and the will of God.  “Lord, I commit myself into thy hands.”  If you surrender to God and God’s will…and all is God’s will…what is there to be afraid of?

The same idea can be achieved by surrendering to fate/destiny.  I think this is one redeeming quality of the common nonduality teaching that everything is predestined and scripted.  There can be a surrendering to whatever happens, because it could not have been any different.  There is no point in fearing the inevitable.  It is a rather dry and mechanical way of looking at things, but there is no fear and no “me”.  It is like being the bell in a clock (as a person)…it will be struck when the hour comes…there is nothing you can do about it…so surrender to whatever is as it is in the moment.

This brings me to surrendering to reality or whatever is.  This has elements of being present, but with doing what you can (in the moment) while surrendering to whatever is (in the moment).  Surrendering to the realities of lack of control, uncertainty, and unknowing…and understanding that you can only do what you can do (and it may or may not be enough, but you won’t know until you do it and see the results).  Don’t fear or fight reality…surrender to reality.  And so why fear failure?  You do what you can – no more is possible.  If failure is the result, you surrender to the reality of that failure in the moment.  You don’t worry about it before hand.

Lastly, you surrender to the Self.  Nonduality is all there ever was and there is no other or separation.  So you could also say you (as the Self) chose everything.  In a way, you are surrendering and committing yourself into the hands of the Self (which is you).  Whatever happens…the Self (you) chose it…and so there can be surrender there.  And there is doing what you can and not fighting reality (the Self).  Life is the Self playing…like children playing with dolls.

In this way, you can choose to work towards something and fail…and it is all OK.  You chose to work at it (as the Self) and you chose to fail at it (as the Self)…as part of the play.  The fun of the play was not in a successful outcome, but in playing the game (win or lose).  If you play a game of checkers (or whatever), do you fear losing the game?  If you do, you are taking the game too seriously.  It is just a game.  The fun is in playing the game.

And if we don’t lose sometimes, we lose interest in the game.  Think about a game that you have mastered and never lose…do you still keep playing?  Or do you prefer to play other games that are more of a challenge…a game in which you are more likely to lose?  If the game was too easy, it would not be fun.  Failure is OK and part of the experience of playing a fun game.

I will end with recommending that you may want to read “Do Enlightened people make mistakes?  Do they feel regret for the mistakes?”  Ultimately, there is no such thing as a mistake…and therefore no such thing as failure.

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Modern-day house-holder yogi and lover of what-is; living in peace, contentment, and joy.

2 thoughts on “Can you help me with my fear of failure?”

  1. Buddha said something like – do not expect to be happy and you do not fear grief. Likewise, it could be said – do not expect to succeed and you do not fear failure.

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