In my early school days, all my friends used to break their bones once in a while. Every week at least one guy will enter the class with hands tied to his neck. And I used to be very proud that I never broke any bones. It is only much later that I realized I was not doing enough crazy things to break my bones. If I see any chance that my bones will break, I used to steer away from trying it. I was afraid.
There is a saying among motorcycle racers that If a racer has never fallen while racing, it doesn’t mean he is good but he is not leaning enough or not trying enough.
I’m a programmer. If you ask me to rate another programmer, I would rate him based on the number of different bugs he put in the system. More the bugs, more the rating. (I’m not talking about the careless guy who makes the same mistakes over and over)
I looked around and saw people afraid to make mistakes and admit mistakes. Then I looked inside myself and realized that I’m no different. I tried to get rid of the fears and realized that it is not so easy. This fear of making mistakes is rooted in our subconscious minds. It won’t go away that easy. So how did it get inside anyway?
You were not afraid of mistakes
If you can walk with your two legs, that is the proof that you were not afraid of failures. You fell numerous times before you learned to walk. You knew to learn from your mistakes. It was like an instinct nobody taught you.
So when did we start being afraid of our mistakes?
Take a look at what happens in our schools. Students are constantly being judged. Making mistakes means losing marks. Making mistakes means red cane marks on your soft tiny hands. Making mistakes means scolding from your beloved parents. Making mistakes means shame. Not only schools but the same also applies to most families too.
The end result? We end up being afraid of making mistakes. In other words, we stop trying out new things, afraid of being wrong. And we push this idea to our subconscious mind that the way we are taught is the only way to do things! We lose our willingness to engage in difficult problems, the same willingness which taught us to walk!
When schooling is over, we carry over our fear of being constantly judged. We do things the society way. We try to be normal people, and our society loves it! Years later we wonder why we are not satisfied with our life. The answer? Because it was not our life. We lived someone else’s life!
We teach our children the same. To live like they are taught. Just like our parents taught us. We are the society. The society teaches us and our kids to not make mistakes, and that failures are bad!
As we grow older our risk tolerance decreases. It will be difficult to repair a bone that broke when you are over 60. When you are 70 and the stock market crashes, you won’t have enough time to wait for the markets to come up again. The risk tolerance decreases day by day. By the time we become wise enough to embrace mistakes, mistakes get too risky, we lived an unsatisfied life and we die unsatisfied.
I’m no expert at this. I myself am afraid of failures and have no damn idea how to get rid of those.
But I can say from my experience that embracing the fact that life is full of trials and errors is the first step. Remember, “There is no failure, only feedback”
It is easy for motivational speakers and motivational quotes to say “Lose the fear”. In reality, it is not that easy. It takes time and effort to get it out of your subconscious mind. You can try exposing yourself to smaller risks first (Exposure therapy), which will eventually make you strong enough to face bigger risks.
“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure.”
— Thomas J. Watson, founder of IBM