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Overcoming fear of failure || Acharya Prashant (2016)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
6 min
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Questioner (Q): Whenever I want to do something new, I am always afraid that I might fail. So, I keep a backup plan for myself, that in case I fail, I will do this another thing. And I don’t know if this is the right way of thinking or approaching a new thing.

Acharya Prashant (AP): No it’s good. Plan A fails, you want to have plan B. plan B fails, then plan C is there. It’s alright.

But you must also know that plan A, B, C, X, Y, Z, they may all fail. The cause-effect link in the Universe is beyond all pre-emptive calculations. So, to the extent you can, plan out, try to make yourself safe, secure. That is the tendency of the mind. Alright? We must not blame it for that. But what if everything fails, would you collapse? Would you? And there would be so many times when everything fails.

You must know that you are thinking, organizing, planning, managing; yet the outcome must never become too significant for you. Your planning succeeds, wonderful. You tried something, it works. Nice, good. Your planning would often not work, that should be equally good.

Now, there is a little bit of a contradiction here. You would say that "If the failure of planning is as good as the success of planning, then why to plan at all?" If you can realize this, then don’t plan. But the basic tendency of the mind is to seek security. So, you will find that it does think, organize, manage, execute. Let it do, all of that.

But don’t let the tricks, games, tendencies of the mind, become too meaningful for you. When your plan succeeds, pat yourself on the back. When your plan doesn’t succeed, shrug off the failure. It’s okay.

Q: Sir, but at the very thought of doing something new, I am thinking negatively about it. Like, what if I fail, this is my first thought.

AP: Have you not already failed if you are afraid of failure? Look at the whole thing. Look at, how one builds herself up.

You have not been trying new stuff. That’s what you say. You have been trying to remain safe in your old and conventional ways. And that’s how the entire self, the entire system has been built up over time, right? Now had this process of playing safe, been any good, then this self, the person that you are today, must have been a courageous and a fearless individual today? Given that you are so prone to fear, is that not itself a proof of the failure of the process you have followed all along? Having followed the process that you have done, you have become afraid of newness and change. Right? What does that prove? That only proves that the process you have been following has not been good for you. And if it has not been good for you, do you still want to carry on with it? Is it not the time, to give this up? Yes?

If I am afraid of change, it only proves that the configuration of my mind is not healthy for me. Right? So, do I act according to this configuration, or do I simply give this configuration up?

I am asking you. My mind has a certain structure, right? I have tendencies, I have patterns. Those patterns are making me afraid of the new. Do I act according to those patterns? Those patterns are giving me fear. Do I act according to them? If I act according to them, I continue them.

Q: Change the pattern.

AP: Changing the pattern would again be something that is dictated by the pattern itself. It is contained in the pattern that the pattern keeps changing itself, within its limits. Within its limits, the pattern keeps changing itself, but that change never breaches the limits. And the limits are where your pain lies.

So, self-managed change will never take care of the fundamental problem. It simply means, being a little less confident about one’s ways. It simply means, having the courage to live in uncertainty, at least for a while. Even if we try to act humble, most of us are extremely confident, at least of the fundamentals. That confidence needs to be examined.

You may say that you are not very sure about some technical matter. You may say that you are not very sure, of policies of the central bank of this country. You may say, you are not very sure, of what would happen in the soccer match tomorrow. But there is nobody who would admit, that he is not sure of what life is. There is nobody who would say, “I am unsure of what love is.” That is something, we would not accept to be challenged. This much you will be readily prepared to accept that you are unsure of the relationship with your boss. But hardly anyone would come and innocently, humbly say, that in spite of having a 30-year relationship with the wife, you are unsure of your relationship with her. Our confidence is deep. That does not change. And around that unchanging core, we make space for artificial change, superficial change.

The real things in life, they stay as they are. And if they stay as they are then what is the point of pretending change? What is the point?

Your job sucks. What is the point of changing your uniform? What is the point of getting a new haircut to your work? What is the point of reaching your workplace in a changed vehicle? Don’t we do that?

Your fat tummy, how will it help to buy new waist belts? But there are enough tricks available in the market to hide the real problem. Right?

Let’s talk about the real. Let’s have the courage, to look at the fundamentals.

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